In October 1998, Ecuador’s CREDIFE enlisted Accion to help create a microcredit program. Under the auspices of this technical assistance agreement, Accion consultants designed and implemented a pilot program based on individual credit methodology. CREDIFE launched operations in June 1999.
With more than 100 branches throughout Ecuador, Banco Pichincha's infrastructure allowed CREDIFE to rapidly expand microlending operations. Eventually, CREDIFE opened its own customer service locations throughout Ecuador. Formerly a shareholder in the institution, Accion continues to play a strategic role and serve on CREDIFE's Board of Directors. Accion also provides technical assistance to support the development of new products and services, with special emphasis on the introduction of rural lending and savings accounts.
CREDIFE and Accion worked together to implement a rural finance program aimed to cast the net of financial services out into the rural areas of Latin America. Supported in part by the Inter-American Development Bank, the project spanned five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and reached 200,000 new clients with a range of microfinance services. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CREDIFE is also one of three microfinance institutions in Latin America that has piloted new ways to offer savings accounts to low-income microentrepreneurs.