President and CEO of Accion
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 63 microfinance institutions in 32 countries, which currently reach millions of clients and provide 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, Michael ran communications, philanthropy, government relations, branding, and human resources for Citigroup. He served as chief of staff at the U.S. 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.
Mr. Schlein has been involved with microfinance for many years, serving on the board and Executive Committee of Accion before becoming CEO and president, and playing a leadership role at the Citi Foundation, which has a long history of funding microfinance initiatives. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Schlein has graduate and undergraduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.
Esteban A. Altschul
Chief Operating Officer
Esteban Altschul manages global operations across Accion to ensure operational efficiency and the achievement of the organization’s social and financial objectives. Mr. Altschul is responsible for Accion’s strategy and execution in Latin America, Africa and Asia. As part of this work, Mr. Altschul oversees the development and improvement of the technology and human resources that deliver Accion’s products and services.
Prior to joining Accion in 2008, Mr. Altschul directed human resources for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. Based in Washington, he directed human resource strategy, budget and operations. At the IFC, Mr. Altschul played a leadership role in the implementation of many innovative initiatives, including the first long-term incentives plan in a multilateral organization and numerous programs to decentralize business operations. Mr. Altschul also brings over a decade of investment operations 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 Eastern Europe and Latin America, 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. His geographic work experience includes more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
A native of Argentina, Mr. Altschul holds a B.S. in international business diplomacy and a master of science in international economics, both from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he graduated summa cum laude as the Elsworth Bunker Fellow in Diplomacy.
Mary Chaffin is responsible for all of Accion's legal and corporate governance affairs, including the organization's relationship with outside counsel. Before joining Accion in the summer of 2010, Ms. Chaffin worked as a consultant for CGAP, CARE and ACDI/VOCA. Prior to that she served as the general counsel, corporate secretary and risk manager for Mercy Corps, where she was closely involved with the development of all of the MFIs in Mercy Corps' microfinance portfolio. Ms. Chaffin has an extensive commercial and regulatory banking background, having served as a Managing Director and as senior corporate counsel at US Bank for over 10 years. She began her legal career as a commercial litigator and appellate lawyer at the law firm that is now known as Davis Wright Tremaine.
Ms. Chaffin holds a JD from the University of Georgia School of Law, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif and the Georgia Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. She received her bachelor's degree in Russian studies from Brown University, magna cum laude and with honors, and also studied Russian history at Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Chief Investment Officer
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), EB Accion 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.
Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Latin America
Centro Acción Microempresarial, Bogotá, Colombia
Diego Guzmán has worked with Accion since 1985 and currently serves as the vice president 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 A. Kuwik
Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Africa
Accion Africa Hub and Training Center, Accra, Ghana
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, EB-Accion in Ghana and 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.
Senior Vice President, Communications
Bruce MacDonald is responsible for managing Accion’s communications and marketing programs, including branding and awareness, media relations, Web and e-marketing, internal communications, events, publications and development communications.
Prior to joining Accion in 2005, Mr. MacDonald directed corporate communications for several private and publicly traded U.S. and European technology companies, where his responsibilities included analyst and investor relations, public relations and international marketing. During that time, he spent nearly a dozen years working outside the United States. He has also served as the senior vice president of a leading Boston-based crisis-communications firm, and spent 10 years as a journalist covering U.S. and European business.
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Mr. MacDonald holds a B.A. in English literature from Drew University and a master's degree in international public policy from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He lives in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children.
Chief Financial Officer
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.
Chief Development and Administrative Officer
Donella Rapier joined Accion in January 2012 as chief development and administrative officer. In this capacity, Ms. Rapier oversees Accion’s resource development activities, including individual giving, foundation and corporate giving, and grants from governments and multilateral institutions. She leads Accion’s performance measurement programs, overseeing a robust process of operational and strategic reporting. She is responsible for devising and implementing an organization-wide social performance plan, and oversees several organization-wide initiatives including institutional relationship management and risk management. In addition, Ms. Rapier helps to ensure coordination of Accion’s domestic and international activities.
Prior to joining Accion, Ms. Rapier served as chief financial officer at Partners In Health, a not-for-profit organization that provides health care and socioeconomic services to at-need communities in 12 countries around the world, including Haiti and Rwanda. Prior to PIH, she served as Harvard University’s vice president for alumni affairs and development and before that as Harvard Business School’s chief financial officer. She began her career at Price Waterhouse, ultimately serving as a senior manager for the firm.
Ms. Rapier has been a lecturer at both Harvard Business School and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. She received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a bachelor of science degree, summa cum laude, in business administration from California State University.
Managing Director, Center for Financial Inclusion
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’s 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.
Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Asia
Accion Regional Office, Washington, D.C.
Victoria White has worked with Accion since 2000. Currently serving as regional head for Asia, she manages Accion’s operations and relationships in China and India. In this capacity, she is responsible for Accion’s management and technical services relationships with partner microfinance institutions, as well as for providing oversight of Accion’s investments in the region. She is responsible for partnership selection, development of technical assistance programs, staffing of local technical teams, project funding and overall expansion efforts in the region. Previously, Ms. White managed Accion’s technical assistance relationships with partners in Africa and has served on various boards of partner microfinance institutions. From 2002-2003, she served as the transformation manager for Uganda Microfinance Union’s conversion to a regulated, deposit taking institution.
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. She is also currently an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
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.