Accion Launches $10m Venture Lab, a Seed-Stage Investment Initiative for Financial Inclusion Start-ups
Boston, MA/Washington, D.C., April 4, 2012 -- Accion, a pioneer and leader in global microfinance, today announced the launch of Venture Lab, an initiative dedicated to providing seed capital and management support to financial inclusion start-ups worldwide.The $10 million program will seek out companies that have completed research and development and are at the pilot/first-revenue stage. Investments will typically be in the range of US $100,000-$300,000, invested either as convertible debt or equity. “There is tremendous excitement and promise across the globe in efforts to deliver vital financial services to those who have traditionally lacked access,” said Michael Schlein, Accion president and CEO. “Our new Accion Venture Lab will seek companies developing innovative technologies and disruptive business models with the potential to transform the quality and scale of services available to the financially excluded.”Seeking approximately 20 investments over the next three years, Venture Lab will focus primarily in the following areas:
Geographically, Venture Lab's mandate is global. Preliminary research has focused largely on companies in East Africa and South Asia. In the coming months, Latin America will also be a focal point.Venture Lab will seek to support start-ups at a vital stage when they are normally considered ‘pre-investable’ – that is, when a product or service is ready to test the market but has not yet proved its ability to generate revenue. The Lab will provide not only patient capital, but also a dedicated team ready to assist with early-stage tasks such as analytics, financial modeling, business development and reaching scale.Venture Lab's assistance will leverage Accion's technical capacity, its global network of microfinance institutions, and relationships in the global microfinance and mainstream financial industries to help build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in which portfolio companies can thrive.
The Lab will be directed by Paul Breloff out of Accion’s Washington, D.C. offices, with staff to be based in East Africa and India.
Venture Lab complements Accion's Frontier Investments Group, which focuses on similarly disruptive but more established companies with demonstrated revenue traction. Both investment vehicles are part of ongoing efforts by Accion to explore innovative business models that will radically improve the efficiency and enhance the quality of financial-service delivery to the under-banked.About AccionAccion is a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world, with access to economic opportunity for all, by giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives. A world pioneer in microfinance, over the last 50 years we have helped build 62 microfinance institutions in 31 countries on four continents. Those institutions are currently reaching millions of clients. The Accion U.S. Network is the largest microfinance network in the country and, since inception, has served hundreds of thousands of clients with loans and support. For further information, visit www.accion.org.* * *®Accion is a registered trademark of Accion International.Media contact:Bruce J. MacDonaldSVP, CommunicationsTel. +1 617-616-1546 firstname.lastname@example.orgVenture Lab contact:Paul BreloffManaging Director, Venture LabTel. +1 202-393-5113 email@example.com