The economic crisis has made life even more challenging for underserved consumers and small business owners worldwide. Still, extraordinary leaders ensure that financial service providers rise to meet those challenges, helping vulnerable people access the credit and resources they need to weather crises and build financial resilience. In this virtual event, we honored two pioneering leaders with the 2020 Edward W. Claugus Award:
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.
Gowri Thyagarajan Mukherjee
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.
- Presenter Diana Taylor, Chair of the Accion Board of Directors
- Presenter Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion
- Emcee Jim Rosenberg, Chief Communications Officer, Accion
The Claugus Award is named in honor of Accion benefactor Edward Claugus, a skilled investor who was passionate about social change. In recognition of his generosity and commitment to Accion’s mission, we host this annual event in his name to encourage discourse on building a more financially inclusive world, and to recognize honorees for exceptional work and innovation in financial inclusion.