We recently welcomed Rahil Rangwala to the Accion Venture Lab team as Co-Managing Partner. In this role, Rahil will co-lead efforts to grow Venture Lab’s portfolio of innovative startups that are revolutionizing financial services for underserved people around the world.
Before joining our team, Rahil was a Director at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, where he was responsible for running the India office and defining the strategic direction of the foundation’s Livelihoods and Financial Inclusion portfolio. Previously, Rahil began his career at Bridgewater Associates, a global macro hedge fund. He brings extensive experience working with diverse fintech and platform startups to our team.
All of us at Accion Venture Lab are very excited to have Rahil on board. I spoke with Rahil about his path to impact investing and what excites him about where inclusive fintech is headed:
Tell us about yourself. What led you to impact investing?
After seven years at Bridgewater, I was fortunate to have the option of taking a year-long sabbatical. During this year, I worked at a rural logistics startup in Delhi and discovered this entire world of social enterprise. It was a humbling experience, but I was hooked. Given my professional background, I knew the best way for me to make a difference in this space was on the investing side. I’ve had the privilege of operating in the sector for 11 years now, and I continue to be humbled by the passion and grit of the entrepreneurs that I get to work with.
What compelled you to join the Accion Venture Lab team?
Over the last decade, I’ve been working in financial inclusion and trying to scale social impact through emerging tech platforms. Venture Lab marries the two with its focus on fintech and leveraging embedded finance models and emerging platforms that are the future of delivering financial services to excluded populations. To top it off, I get to work with an incredibly smart team with an impressive track record that is committed to social impact.
From your experience, what’s the most effective way to connect people in low-income communities to economic opportunity?
I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this. Low-income communities are not homogenous and operate in vastly different contexts across the globe. But cheap cellular data and the penetration of mobile phones are creating an even playing field for low-income communities. These technologies create data footprints for previously unreached people and formalize sectors that have historically been ignored because of their disaggregated and informal nature. So, if I had to pick one, I would bet on the mobile phone to enable access to better economic opportunities.
What excites you most about where inclusive fintech is headed?
I’m excited by three things:
- Penetration of technology that has brought down the cost of delivering services to low-income communities.
- Entrepreneurs who are now recognizing that the next billion are a viable market and have unleashed lots of innovation in this space.
- And finally, owners of capital who are also recognizing that impact investing is a viable path to generating returns and having a positive social impact.
What is your vision for the future of Venture Lab?
I would like to see Venture Lab continue to become the preeminent brand in fintech impact investing where entrepreneurs see us as partners in their journey, and build on the track record we have of bringing more than just capital to the table.
What do you like to do when you’re not investing?
I love to read and am also an avid Crossfitter. I’m also a travel buff, and now that some COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, I’m looking forward to making up for lost time.