Since 2008, the Mastercard Foundation has supported several Accion initiatives, underscoring our shared commitment to building prosperity through financial inclusion and education. The Mastercard Foundation-Accion relationship has evolved over a decade, and each has enabled the other to explore new areas and reach underserved populations, especially in Africa.
The Smart Campaign
The Mastercard Foundation was an early sponsor of the Smart Campaign, a global campaign committed to embedding client protection practices into the institutional culture and operations of the financial inclusion industry. Spearheaded by the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI), the initiative is focused on creating an environment in which financial services are delivered safely and responsibly to low-income clients. The Foundation’s initial and continuing support for educating financial service providers and consumers alike has been central to the Campaign’s progress. The Mastercard Foundation enabled the Smart Campaign’s expansion into five focus countries in Africa, where it is addressing client protection and empowerment issues emerging from new technologies and seeking to affect change at a national level.
Leadership Development in Financial Inclusion
In addition, the Foundation has helped fund two innovative Accion programs for leadership development in financial inclusion. Over the course of a decade, scholarship funding from the Foundation allowed for more than 340 leaders from financial institutions around the world to participate in the annual Harvard Business School-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance. This unique executive education opportunity brings professionals together to learn about the latest challenges and breakthroughs in financial inclusion and develop their problem-solving skills. The Foundation also supports CFI’s Africa Board Fellowship, a peer learning, and exchange program for executives and board members from African financial institutions that focus on building capacity in governance and risk management. More than 230 fellows from approximately 60 African institutions have taken part in the program to date.
Accion Venture Lab in Sub-Saharan Africa
Most recently, the Mastercard Foundation has been a key sponsor of Accion Venture Lab’s work in Africa. In addition to general support for Venture Lab’s efforts to identify, invest in, and support promising fintech start-ups in Africa, the Foundation is also sponsoring pilot projects, such as the new “Company Builder” initiative, which recruits experienced business executives with entrepreneurial aspirations to create fintech startups from scratch in Nigeria.
The Mastercard Foundation-Accion partnership has yielded multiple pioneering initiatives whose legacy is only beginning to take shape, as financial service providers and fintech entrepreneurs build a more inclusive economy in Africa and beyond.