Washington, DC, November 19, 2020 – Global nonprofit Accion announced today that it will award the sixth annual Edward W. Claugus Award to Gowri Thyagarajan Mukherjee, co-founder and CEO of CreditMantri, and to Luz Urrutia, CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund. The award, which is given to exceptional leaders advancing financial inclusion, will be presented at a virtual event on December 2, 2020.
“This year, we are thrilled to present the Edward W. Claugus Award to two women who have shown extraordinary leadership in financial inclusion throughout their careers, and who are playing a particularly important role supporting the financial resilience of underserved individuals and small businesses during today’s pandemic,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion. “Gowri Thyagarajan Mukherjee’s exceptional leadership as CEO and co-founder of CreditMantri has enabled more than 10 million underserved Indians to access the credit they need to support their families and businesses. In the U.S., Luz Urrutia is a champion for underserved entrepreneurs, leading efforts at Accion Opportunity Fund to spearhead a national microlending strategy and ensure that small business owners have access to the capital, coaching, and networks they need.”
Gowri Thyagarajan Mukherjee is co-founder and CEO of CreditMantri, a fintech that enables and educates Indian consumers to understand the status of their credit wellness and make informed decisions which help them work their way towards loan eligibility. To date, CreditMantri has served more than 10 million individuals and small businesses in India.
Gowri has nearly two decades of experience in financial services, having previously worked as Global Head of Digital Marketing at Standard Chartered Bank and Director & Head of Digital Business at Citibank, with prior experience at HSBC and SIFY, one of India’s first ISPs. Gowri was Chairperson of the Reserve Bank of India’s committee for guidelines on securing card transactions. She holds degrees from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani and the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta.
“At CreditMantri, our focus is to solve for the needs of the credit invisible consumer and small business in India. The last seven months have been particularly challenging for these consumers, with their livelihoods and living getting impacted,” said Gowri Thyagarajan Mukherjee, co-founder and CEO of CreditMantri. “At CreditMantri, our response to this has been to direct our energies towards educating our users about their repayment options, choices they have and guide them to make an informed repayment decision, keeping in mind their unique circumstances. Like most people, we have tried to do our best to make a difference in these circumstances. A big thank you to Accion for taking note of the work we do and for continuing to encourage all of us at CreditMantri. Thank you.”
Luz Urrutia is CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender and advisor that helps small businesses thrive. Accion Opportunity Fund aims to help fill the estimated $87 billion annual market gap in loans of less than $100,000 for small business owners. The organization connects underserved entrepreneurs, especially people of color, women, and immigrants, to affordable capital, educational resources, coaching, and networks. Over its history, 90% of Accion Opportunity Fund’s loans have gone to entrepreneurs who are Black, Latinx, women, or immigrants.
Luz’s career has focused on expanding financial services for underserved populations, from unbanked immigrants to small business owners. She has successfully led numerous organizations through change, including founding a start-up bank for Hispanic immigrants, leading the geographic expansion of an early-stage consumer lender, and endeavoring to transition an established global financial provider away from payday lending. Prior to her role at Accion Opportunity Fund, Luz was CEO in the US for Dollar Financial Group, Vice President of Retail Sales & Service at Oportun, Co-Founder and President and COO at El Banco de Nuestra Comunidad, and Managing Director at Wachovia Bank. Luz has served on the Board of the Financial Health Network, the Consumer Advisory Council of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and currently serves on the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Luz is originally from Caracas, Venezuela. She received a B.S., magna cum laude, in Business Administration and Finance and an M.B.A., both from Georgia State University.
“I am honored to receive the Claugus Award, especially at a time when advancing financial inclusion is imperative to an equitable rebuilding for the nation’s women, minority, and immigrant-owned small businesses struggling to regenerate from the COVID-10 pandemic,” said Luz Urrutia, CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund. “Our financial system is unequal. COVID has laid that bare and illuminated how far we have to go to ensure women, immigrant, and entrepreneurs of color have easy, equitable access to affordable and responsible capital to grow their businesses.”
The Claugus Award is named in honor of Accion benefactor Edward Claugus, a skilled investor who was passionate about social change. Accion presents an annual award in his name to honorees who have shown exceptional work and innovation in financial inclusion. This year, the award will be presented virtually at an event on December 2, 2020. Interested parties can learn more and register here.
Accion is a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. We catalyze financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of — or poorly served by — the financial sector. For nearly 60 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through our work with more than 160 partners in 55 countries. More at http://www.accion.org.