HBS-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance

Shaping the next generation of inclusive finance leaders


The Harvard Business School (HBS)-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance provides high-level management and leadership training to those who are reshaping the financial system for underserved populations by expanding access to critical financial tools.

The intensive six-day program offers leaders from around the world—spanning the private, public, and social sectors—an exceptional opportunity to connect with peers and engage with some of the HBS faculty’s foremost thinkers in business strategy and management. The HBS Executive Education learning model immerses the world’s most promising leaders in a transformational experience that marries the best of strategic thinking with the most important advances in financial inclusion and impact investing.


Given the increased interest of mainstream financial institutions and others in reaching customers at the base of the pyramid, the course begins with an intensive survey of the microfinance industry and the operations of its leading institutions, provided by HBS faculty and experienced Accion practitioners. The program also addresses key strategic issues arising out of the dual goals of economic and social value creation that have defined the industry, including:

  • How new business models in this space—especially technology-enhanced models—succeed or flounder
  • How to successfully compete in highly competitive markets
  • How to balance one’s social mission with financial considerations
  • How to stay abreast of rapidly evolving products and delivery channels
  • How inclusive financial service providers are helping vulnerable populations rebuild from the pandemic and adapt for the digital economy

Participants will learn primarily through the case study approach as pioneered by HBS. Through these guided case discussions, participants work collaboratively to identify practical business strategies from the experiences of leading institutions and apply these lessons learned to their own institutions following the end of the Program. Decision makers from the case studies often join participants in the classroom—either on site or via video link—to engage in live dialogue and dive deeper into key concepts.

Participants of the Center for Financial Inclusion's board governance education program attending the HBS-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance.
Participants of the Center for Financial Inclusion's board governance education program attending the HBS-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance.

Eligibility and Benefits

Who should apply and why

The program provides a dedicated platform to learn from distinguished faculty and connect with like-minded peers from around the world at Harvard University’s Cambridge campus. Program benefits include:

  • A platform for financial inclusion leaders within financial services companies, government agencies, support organizations, and knowledge institutions to discuss, share ideas, and gain new expertise
  • An intensive six days of learning using the world-renowned HBS case study methodology, learning from and analyzing the decisions of financial inclusion leaders at critical moments
  • Access to distinguished HBS faculty and subject-matter experts in business strategy and management
  • The opportunity to expand your network and to connect with like-minded peers from around the world facing similar issues and to learn from their experiences

Who Should Apply

  • Microfinance and financial institution executives and managers
  • Impact investors
  • Fintech entrepreneurs
  • Policymakers and regulators
  • MNO and telecommunications providers
  • International development/financial inclusion practitioners

Why You Should Apply

  • Bolster your strategic thinking about serving clients at the base of the pyramid by analyzing real-life cases
  • Re-evaluate your role and the role of your organization in the financial inclusion space
  • Deepen and expand your knowledge of business strategy and management alongside like-minded peers and the foremost thinkers in the field
  • Raise the caliber of your leadership skills
“My experience at HBS is unforgettable. This training provides an opportunity to detach from everyday work and reflect on some of the ‘macro’ issues related to ‘micro’ finance. Having the opportunity to discuss and analyze challenging aspects of the industry amongst a sophisticated group of practitioners and qualified lecturers has allowed me to bring back fresh thoughts on how best to address challenges my organization is facing in its complex environment.”

Dates and Fees


The 2020 HBS-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance, originally scheduled to take place March 29 to April 3, has been rescheduled to occur on April 3-9, 2022. Depending on availability, more applicants may be accepted for this iteration of the program. Please contact hbsaccion@accion.org for more information.


We are holding slots for participants who were confirmed for the 2020 class. For new participants, the application period is now closed, but may be reopening soon. Please contact hbsaccion@accion.org for more details.


The program cost is $8,850 USD including tuition, fees, housing, and meals. Attendees will need to pay in full to be considered accepted into the program. Airfare is the responsibility of the attendee.


The Citi Foundation provides a limited number of partial scholarships to participants who otherwise cannot attend because of the cost. Please note that we are unable to offer scholarships to all applicants who apply. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please indicate so in the application.


For general questions, contact the Admissions Committee at hbsaccion@accion.org. For questions about the 2020 cohort and the rescheduled program occurring in 2022, please contact hbsaccion@accion.org

“The blend of industry players provided a platform for cross fertilization of ideas and enriching experience. The diversity of participants across continents was a great asset and opportunity. Indeed the environment at HBS was conducive for learning and for sure through the executive training and experience sharing, we will change the world.”

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