Michael Schlein is the President and CEO of Accion, a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world. A world pioneer in microfinance, Accion has helped build 65 microfinance institutions in 32 countries which currently reach millions of clients providing them with the financial tools that can help improve their lives. Today, Accion has operations and investments throughout much of Latin America, Africa, India, China and the Philippines.
In addition, Accion provides early and seed stage venture capital to new companies that promote disruptive innovation in financial services at the base of the pyramid. Also, Accion created and supports the Center for Financial Inclusion, an outward-focused think tank dedicated to tackling industry-wide challenges. For example, the Smart Campaign is the first global consumer protection campaign focused on those living in poverty.
Mr. Schlein brings nearly 30 years of extensive international banking, management and public service experience to his role as President and CEO of Accion. As President of Citigroup’s International Franchise Management, Mr. Schlein managed the bank’s network of 100 Chief Country Officers. Before that, he ran communications, philanthropy, government relations, branding and human resources for Citigroup. He served as Chief of Staff at the US Securities and Exchange Commission in the Clinton Administration and in New York’s City Hall in the Dinkins and Koch Administrations. He began his career in investment banking.
In 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Mr. Schlein to serve as the Chairman of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, which encourages economic growth throughout New York’s five boroughs and facilitates investments that build capacity, generate prosperity, and catalyze the economic vibrancy of city life as a whole.
Mr. Schlein has graduate and undergraduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
Esteban Altschul manages global operations to ensure the achievement of Accion’s social and financial objectives. Mr. Altschul manages strategy and execution in all countries where Accion operates, currently including Latin America, Africa and Asia. Through his role, Accion ensures all internal resources are integrated and working collectively to meet organizational objectives. As part of his responsibilities, Mr. Altschul oversees the implementation of the technology and human resources that deliver Accion’s products and services. Prior to joining Accion in 2008, Mr. Altschul directed human resources at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, where he led the implementation of many innovative initiatives, including the first long-term incentives plan in a multilateral organization. Mr. Altschul also brings over a decade of investment experience, including expertise in equity funds and in small and medium-size enterprises. At IFC, Mr. Altschul served as a principal investment officer, leading and structuring investment projects in Latin America and Eastern Europe, totaling over $1.3 billion in loans and equity investments. Over time, he also managed a portfolio of over 30 companies, totaling around $1.0 billion in investments. Mr. Altschul has extensive experience in governance, and currently serves on multiple boards of directors including Banco Solidario (BancoSol), Bolivia, where he is chairman. His geographic work experience includes more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. A native of Argentina, Mr. Altschul holds a B.S. in international business diplomacy and an M.S. in international economics, both from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa as the Elsworth Bunker Fellow in Diplomacy.
Lynne Curran leads Accion’s global human resources functions, including all activities necessary for the successful recruitment, engagement, development, and retention of staff. One of Ms. Curran’s major achievements as head of HR has been the development and implementation of staff leadership and career development programs, which are critical to Accion’s strategic goal of managing with excellence.
Prior to becoming the head of Human Resources in 2010, Ms. Curran led Accion’s knowledge management efforts and was responsible for capacity building throughout the organization. Ms. Curran joined Accion in 1997 and since then has held a variety of roles, including Technical Leader of the Accion CAMEL, where she led assessments of microfinance institutions worldwide and was responsible for the financial analysis and performance monitoring of Accion partner institutions. Ms. Curran was also involved with Accion’s early efforts to link microfinance to the world’s capital markets and participated in the establishment of the Gateway Fund. Ms. Curran has conducted training seminars internationally on a variety of topics related to microfinance, leadership, and financial analysis, for lending institutions, supervisory agencies, and others, as well as for Accion staff.
Ms. Curran, who has authored numerous articles and publications, holds a B.A. from Tufts University and an M.A. from Lesley University. She is fluent in English and Spanish.
John Fischer oversees Accion’s investment vehicles, including equity investments in microfinance institutions (MFIs) made through its Gateway Fund; its Bridge Fund loan guarantees; and seed- and early- stage investments, respectively, through Accion’s Venture Lab and Frontier Investments and initiatives. Mr. Fischer joined Accion in August 2000 as an investment professional working with the Accion Latin American Bridge Fund, a loan guarantee fund for microfinance institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean and the Accion Gateway Fund, an equity investment fund for microfinance institutions worldwide. In 2002, Mr. Fischer helped develop a $20 million private equity fund for microfinance institutions worldwide, Accion Investments in Microfinance, SPC, and in 2007, Mr. Fischer led the successful $30 million capital raise for Accion Investments, incorporating new private investors to the fund.
In these roles, Mr. Fischer has served on the boards of directors and key committees of leading microfinance institutions worldwide such as Mibanco Banco de la Microempresa (Peru), Banco Solidario (Ecuador), Banco Popular Covelo (Honduras), Sociedad de Ahorro y Credito Integral (El Salvador), Akiba Commercial Bank (Tanzania), Pan-African Savings and Loans (Ghana), and Accion Microfinance Bank (Nigeria). Mr. Fischer led successful purchases and recapitalizations of Banco Popular Covelo (Honduras) and Akiba Commercial Bank (Tanzania). He has also been responsible for investment due diligence, negotiation, and monitoring for Accion Investments, and serves as Accion Investments' own chief financial officer and company secretary. Mr. Fischer has been trained in Accion's CAMEL diagnostic tool, used to evaluate and rate microfinance institutions worldwide. Mr. Fischer holds a bachelor of arts degree from Haverford College and master's of business administration and international relations from Boston University.
Diego Guzmán has worked with Accion since 1985 and currently serves as the Chief Regional Officer of Latin American programs and executive director of Centro Acción, Accion’s regional technical assistance center in Bogota, Colombia. Mr. Guzmán oversees the design and development of technical assistance programs for microfinance institutions throughout the Accion Network. Mr. Guzmán also represents Accion and its various investment vehicles on the boards of directors of the following institutions: Financiera América (Finamérica, Colombia), Cooperativa Emprender (Colombia), Banco de la Gente Emprendedora (Bangente, Venezuela), Banco Pichincha (Credife, Ecuador), and Apoyo Integral (El Salvador).
At Accion, Mr. Guzmán has also directed the development of "Diálogo de Gestiones," an innovative client training program designed to incorporate the business experience and feedback of participating microentrepreneurs within class curriculum. With nearly 20 years of experience in the microenterprise sector, Mr. Guzmán has served as a consultant to several multilateral organizations, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank Economic Development Institute, the Inter-American Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). An expert in the design and implementation of microcredit and client training programs, Mr. Guzmán has advised more than 15 microfinance programs in Latin America and the Middle East.
A native of Colombia, Mr. Guzmán holds a B.A. in economics and business administration from the Universidad de Santo Tomás in Bogota. He has also completed post-graduate studies in business administration at UCLA’s School of Management.
Brian Kuwik manages Accion's operations and relationships with partners in Africa and Haiti. Accion's regional program includes equity investments in microfinance banks and the provision of management and technical services to Accion Microfinance Bank in Nigeria, Akiba Commercial Bank in Tanzania, Pan-African Savings and Loans Ghana, EB-Accion Microfinance Cameroon, SOGESOL in Haiti and other microfinance institutions. Mr. Kuwik sits on the boards of these partner institutions, plays an active role in governance, and provides strategic and financial advice. He also supervises Accion's technical assistance activities in the areas of strategic and business planning, product and operations development, human resources management, information technology, and risk management from its office in Ghana. Previously, he served as resident advisor and senior manager for Accion partners in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Haiti. He has supported the design and start-up of new institutions in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.
Before joining Accion in September 2001, Mr. Kuwik worked for three years as an analyst and as head of development at the Small Enterprise Foundation in rural South Africa. Prior to these positions, he was a Fulbright researcher in Cameroon. Mr. Kuwik holds an M.B.A. in finance and international business from the University of Washington and a B.A. in international development from American University. He is fluent in English and French.
Livingston (Livy) Parsons is responsible for the overall financial affairs of Accion, including the oversight and management of the functions of the Finance and Accounting Department that include an organization-wide operating budget of $30 million and a team of 15 financial professionals.
Prior to becoming chief financial officer, Mr. Parsons was Accion's treasury director in charge of over $300 million in fixed-income and equity investments. He also managed Accion's equity investments in its majority-owned microfinance institutions in Brazil and China and oversaw Accion's Global and Latin American Bridge Funds. The Bridge Funds have $9 million in assets and provide socially responsible investors and institutions a mechanism through which to invest and support Accion affiliates in Latin America, India, Africa and Asia.
Before working for Accion International, Mr. Parsons was the senior vice president for lending operations at Accion USA, overseeing its microlending operations in New England, Atlanta, and Miami, and its Internet and Partner programs. Amongst other achievements, he oversaw the development of Accion USA's Internet loan application and character-based credit scoring model. From June 1997 to January 1998, Mr. Parsons served as the interim president and CEO of Accion New York, one of the nation’s largest individual microlending programs. Prior to joining Accion USA, Mr. Parsons was a vice president for the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company and Chemical Bank.
Mr. Parsons received an A.B. degree from Princeton University. He serves on the boards of directors of the Credit Builders Alliance and Union Square Main Streets in Somerville, MA and the Atlantic Salmon Federation (U.S.) and is a past president of the Social Investment Forum of New England.
Jim Rosenberg manages Accion’s communications and marketing, including digital, social media, branding and awareness, media relations, Web and e-marketing, internal communications, events, publications and development communications.
Prior to joining Accion in 2015, Mr. Rosenberg served as UNICEF’s Chief of Digital Strategy, where he had overall responsibility for video, photo, social media, and multi-platform/mobile web across 150 countries.
Mr. Rosenberg has more than a decade of experience in global development and nearly 20 years in media and communications. As the World Bank's Head of Online & Social Media, he played a key role to create a coherent, global approach to digital communications, integrating digital into all facets of the Bank's outreach. He led the team tasked with corporate web and social media.
At the World Bank Group, Mr. Rosenberg was also a regional web editor covering South Asia and for four years managed outreach for CGAP's mobile phone banking/microfinance program, working closely with key players from the fields of retail finance, mobile telecom, and regulatory agencies.
Prior to his work in communications, Mr. Rosenberg was an award-winning business reporter for WAMU-FM, "Marketplace," and a producer for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and XM Satellite Radio. He holds a master's in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City, where he is Vice-Chair of the Alumni Board.
Elisabeth Rhyne is the managing director of the Center for Financial Inclusion. As senior vice president of Accion since 2000, Ms. Rhyne was responsible for Accion’s initial entry into Africa and India. She directed the organization’s research efforts to develop new financial products and managed Accion’s publications and educational activities.
Recognized as a leading thinker and writer in the field of microfinance, Ms. Rhyne has published numerous articles and four books on the topic, including Mainstreaming Microfinance: How Lending to the Poor Began, Grew and Came of Age in Bolivia (Kumarian Press, 2001). She was also co-editor of The New World of Microenterprise Finance (Kumarian, 1994), which provided the introduction to microfinance for many of the field’s current professionals.
Ms. Rhyne was director of the Office of Microenterprise Development at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) from 1994 to 1998, where she developed and led USAID’s Microenterprise Initiative. While there, she contributed to the founding of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the Boulder Institute of Microfinance. Ms. Rhyne’s experience includes eight years of residence in Africa (Kenya and Mozambique) and independent consulting on microfinance policy and operations for governments, international organizations and microfinance institutions.
Ms. Rhyne holds a master’s and Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and humanities from Stanford University.
Victoria White has worked with Accion since 2000. She serves as a member of the senior management team and holds responsibility for overseeing Accion’s advisory support to its partners as Senior Vice President and Head, Global Advisory Solutions. She also serves as a board director for a number of these institutions. Previously, Ms. White was Accion’s Regional Head for Asia. In this capacity, she was responsible for Accion’s management and technical services relationships with partner microfinance institutions, as well as for providing oversight of Accion’s investments in Asia. Prior to this, she supported Accion’s partners in Africa in such areas as strategic planning, bank downscaling, institutional transformation planning, and financial management.
Ms. White is co-author of Transforming Microfinance Institutions: Providing Full Financial Services to the Poor and Institutional Metamorphosis: Transformation of Microfinance NGOs into Regulated Financial Institutions, a contributing author to Commercialization of Microfinance: Balancing Business and Development, and author of A Case Study in Transformation: The Creation of Uganda Microfinance Limited.
Before working with Accion, Ms. White was a senior advisor for Calmeadow’s international operations, performing financial evaluations and transformation planning for MFIs throughout Africa. She has also worked as a program analyst for USAID’s Office of Microenterprise Development, both in Washington and in the South Africa mission. Prior to entering the microfinance field, Ms. White was a bank examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Ms. White holds an M.A. in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a B.A. in political science and French from Wellesley College.
Abhishek Agrawal joined Accion in July 2009 and is currently Accion's Chief Regional Officer, India. As an Accion representative, Mr. Agrawal serves on the boards of Vindhya E-Infomedia, Swadhaar FinServe, and Saija Finance. He comes with extensive experience in financial management, strategy & business planning, and microfinance operations.
Mr. Agrawal had worked as CFO for more than 12 years in several countries, including at Swadhaar Microfinance starting in 2010, in his capacity as global staff for Accion.
In earlier roles, Mr. Agrawal worked with FINCA International as CFO in different affiliates. Prior to that, he acted as an advisor to the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI), where he worked on number of projects in Municipal reforms & financial management for local municipal bodies. Mr. Agrawal has a Ph.D. in Municipal financial reforms and Chartered Accountant (FCA) from ICAI. He did his Masters of Business Administration with a specialization in finance at Rai International University.
Hannes Manndorff has worked with Accion since 2000. He serves as member of senior management team and is based in Singapore. As Chief Regional Officer of East Asia and the Pacific, he is responsible for identifying and developing new business and managing the relationship with Accion’s investees and partners in the region. Mr. Manndorff also oversees the delivery of advisory services to Accion’s client organizations in the region. He serves as director on the board of several of Accion’s investee companies in Asia and holds the chair position of the DAWN board in Myanmar. Previously, Mr. Manndorff assumed a range of responsibilities within Accion, including serving as CEO for a microfinance institution in India as well as heading Accion’s global business development efforts.
Before joining Accion, Mr. Manndorff worked with several organizations in Europe, including the European Commission and the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He holds a PhD in Development Economics and an MBA from Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration.
Kevin Saunders joined Accion in 2007 and is currently its General Counsel. He is responsible for all of Accion's legal and corporate governance affairs, including managing and directly providing the legal support for Accion’s extensive impact investing activities.
Mr. Saunders has provided essential guidance on many different aspects of the organization’s work advancing inclusive finance. He has served as the primary counsel for the more than 30 Accion Venture Lab and Frontier transactions and investments in bold, disruptive fintech startups; helped close Accion Investments in Microfinance, SPC; coordinated the capital raise and restructuring that improved and expanded Accion’s microfinance work in China; led Accion’s investment in Myanmar’s DAWN; and served as the Secretary to Accion’s Board of Directors.
Prior to joining Accion, Mr. Saunders served as a law clerk with Boston University’s Office of General Counsel, a private law firm, the international health non-profit Partners in Health, and the Arkansas Department of Human Services. He had also provided legal services to veterans and homeless individuals and conducted research with the International Consortium for Law and Development. Mr. Saunders holds a JD from the Boston University School of Law. He received his bachelor's and master’s degrees from Arkansas State University. Mr. Saunders has been admitted to the bar of the state of Massachusetts.