ACCION President and CEO Honored for Leadership

María Otero Recognized by ‘Hispanic Business’, ‘Cookie’ and

Women Students for Work in Microfinance

Washington, DC,  May 16, 2007 - 

ACCION International, a pioneer and leader in global microfinance, announced today that president and CEO María Otero has been recognized recently with three awards for leadership—by Hispanic Business Magazine, Cookie Magazine and the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

Hispanic Business recognized Ms. Otero in its April ‘Spotlight on Elite Women’ feature, naming her one of the most influential Hispanic business women in the United States. 

Cookie, a family lifestyle magazine published by Condé Nast, honored Ms. Otero in its May/June issue with their first annual ‘Smart Cookie’ Award, which recognizes and supports mothers who are making outstanding contributions to women’s and children’s causes around the globe.  Other winners included Mariska Hargitay, Marcia Gay Harden, Sharon Stone, Cynthia Nixon and Liya Kebede. 

Also this past month, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders has recognized Ms. Otero with its Women of Distinction award, which pays tribute to leaders who have made extraordinary accomplishments in their professions or their communities.

As president and CEO of ACCION, Ms. Otero has directed the nonprofit’s global expansion to include operations in 23 countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the United States.  Under her leadership, the organization has grown exponentially— from 18 partners serving 463,293 clients in 2000, to 31 partners serving 2.46 million clients as of December 2006.  During that period, ACCION’s active loan portfolio grew from $274 million to $2 billion.

Born in Bolivia as one of nine children, Ms. Otero moved to the United States with her family when she was 12 years old.  After earning a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University, she began her ACCION career in Honduras in 1985, as a technical advisor to a local microfinance institution.  She was named president and CEO of ACCION in 2000.  Ms. Otero and her husband reside in Washington, D.C. and have three children.

About ACCION International
ACCION International is a private, nonprofit organization with the mission of giving people the financial tools they need—microenterprise loans, business training and other financial services—to work their way out of poverty.  A world pioneer in microfinance, ACCION was founded in 1961 and issued its first microloan in 1973 in Brazil.  ACCION International’s partner microfinance institutions today are providing loans as low as $100 to poor men and women entrepreneurs in 23 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and in the United States.  In the last decade alone, ACCION partners have disbursed more than 17.9 million loans totaling more than $12.3 billion; 97 percent of the loans have been repaid.  Selected for the fourth consecutive year for its pioneering approaches to poverty alleviation, ACCION was among 43 organizations awarded the 2006 Social Capitalist Award by Fast Company magazine. ACCION has also been awarded Charity Navigator’s highest rating—four stars— for efficiency and sound fiscal management.  For more information, visit

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Media contact:
Caroline Mauldin
Communications Associate
ACCION International