Global nonprofit Accion issued the following statements today on the passing of our friend and colleague Kurt Koenigsfest.
A close personal and professional friend to many of Accion’s team members, Kurt filled many roles in his life as a father and family member, friend, community leader, and financial inclusion pioneer.
At the time of his passing, Kurt served as CEO of BancoSol, Bolivia’s largest microcredit bank and longtime partner of Accion. A champion for financial inclusion, Kurt led BancoSol since 2000. Under his leadership, BancoSol has provided more than 1.5 million low-income consumers and small businesses with the high-quality financial services they need to grow and thrive. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kurt oversaw the rollout of digital financial products that allowed customers to continue to access essential financial services during lockdowns.
Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion, said, “Kurt’s passing is a devastating loss, and our thoughts today are with his family and loved ones. Kurt was not only a leader, friend, and collaborator respected by many—his work pioneered the commercial model of microfinance that today is used across the world to help millions of low-income people access the basic financial tools they need to build better lives. He helped grow and transform BancoSol into a leading institution helping more than a million low-income Bolivians recover from the severe effects of the pandemic. His professional legacy lives on in the families, small businesses, and communities he helped support, and it will continue to inspire our work.”
Esteban Altschul, COO of Accion and chairman of BancoSol’s Board of Directors, said, “Our hearts go out to Kurt’s family, friends, and colleagues as they cope with this profound loss. I have had the privilege to work closely with Kurt over the last decade, and he became one of my closest friends. His courageous efforts and dedication in the field of microfinance have made a measurable impact on the lives of Bolivians and underserved people around the world. The global financial inclusion community has lost one of its most inspiring leaders much too soon.”
Accion first backed BancoSol in the 1980s as a charity, then supported its transition to a commercial bank dedicated solely to microfinance in 1992 as a significant minority shareholder and partner. Since then, Accion has continued to partner with BancoSol in the development and rollout of digital financial services for Bolivia’s underserved populations.