We believe in a financially inclusive world—one in which every individual has access to a full range of high-quality, affordable financial services. With access and the right financial tools, people have a greater opportunity to capitalize on their abilities and achieve real economic gains, building brighter futures for themselves and their families.
Our work is guided by the lessons of our 50-year history, and a strategy based on three pillars: building the next generation of top-tier microfinance institutions (MFIs), pushing the frontiers of financial inclusion beyond MFIs, and helping to build a strong industry with high standards. Over the last year, we have made significant progress in all three areas.
First, we are working to extend microfinance to more underserved countries and regions of the world, launching Accion Microfinanças in Manaus, Brazil; strengthening our Indian partners; and working to build new alliances in China, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and beyond. And we’re increasing opportunity in the United States through the Accion U.S. Network, the largest microlending network in the country. Since its inception in 1991, it has extended more than $320 million in working-capital loans.
Second, we have launched Venture Lab, a $10 million new impact-investment initiative that provides seed-stage funding for small start-ups developing new products and business models that increase access to services for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. And through our Frontier Investments Group, we continue to invest in other groundbreaking financial services, such as mobile payments in Zambia; a technology services company in India staffed by the disabled; and life insurance for the most vulnerable, such as those living with HIV and AIDS.
Third, the Smart Campaign—the flagship consumer-protection initiative of Accion’s Center for Financial Inclusion—continues to gather momentum across the globe, boasting more than 2,900 endorsers, of which 900 are MFIs who serve 40 million clients in over 130 countries. And, we have deepened collaboration with other industry leaders, including the Microfinance CEO Working Group, on a common agenda to address key industry challenges, with the goal of redoubling the industry’s commitment to consumer protection, pricing transparency and meaningful measurement of social impact.
We are proud of the work and achievements made over the last year, and of the value that Accion brings in its effort to provide opportunity to millions of hardworking people throughout the world.
We are no less proud of, and honored by, your continued support. Your generosity makes our work possible.