Microfinance Leader Launches New Hub in Africa

Accion Now Positioned to Expand
Financial Services and Access for Africa’s Working Poor

ACCRA, Ghana, October 30, 2008
– ACCION® International, a pioneer and leader in microfinance, today launched its new hub office and training center in Accra, Ghana, underscoring the U.S.-based nonprofit organization’s commitment to expanding financial services for Africa’s working poor.

The center’s staff will provide support to ACCION’s team of African microfinance experts, who currently work with microfinance institutions in both East and West Africa. The center will also address the clear need for capacity-building among microfinance practitioners in the region, offering education and training to ensure that future generations of microfinance managers possess the capacity and technical expertise to effectively meet the growing demands of Africa. In the next three years, ACCION intends, through its emerging training center network, to train 3,000 microfinance practitioners in such disciplines as business planning, risk management, lending and governance.

“Today marks a bold, new phase for ACCION’s work in building inclusive financial systems,” said María Otero, president and CEO of ACCION. “The opening of an African hub office and training center will allow us to significantly broaden our outreach on the continent, strengthening the skills of microfinance practitioners, managers and regulators, and helping to bring microfinance to more of the working poor in a more immediate, comprehensive way.” ACCION’s goal within the next three years is to double the number of poor entrepreneurs it helps to reach worldwide with microfinance, Ms. Otero added, from 3 million to 6 million.

The launch event, held at ACCION’s offices in Accra, drew microfinance, business and civic leaders from around the world, including the Honorable Minister Anthony Akoto Osei, Minister of Finance for Ghana, who gave the keynote address.

ACCION in Africa
Since first beginning work in Africa in 2000, ACCION has advised microfinance institutions across the continent, providing technical assistance and sometimes investment to help them expand. ACCION has helped to build and transform Uganda Microfinance Limited; built microlending operations in Benin with PADME; and helped to create the microfinance operations of established banks in Zimbabwe (MicroKing) and Tanzania (Akiba Commercial Bank). ACCION has more recently established ‘greenfield’ microfinance operations in Nigeria, launching ACCION Microfinance Bank (AMfB) in 2007. This year, ACCION and its West African partner Ecobank launched EB-ACCION Savings & Loans to serve microentrepreneurs in Ghana and beyond.

Accion is a private, nonprofit organization with the mission of giving people the financial tools they need – microenterprise loans, business training and other financial services – to work their way out of poverty.  A world pioneer in microfinance, ACCION was founded in 1961 and issued its first microloan in 1973 in Brazil.  Accion’s partner microfinance institutions today are providing loans as low as $100 to poor men and women entrepreneurs in 25 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the United States.  In the last decade alone, ACCION partners have disbursed more than 22.4 million loans totaling $17.4 billion; 97 percent of the loans have been repaid.  Selected for the fifth consecutive year for its pioneering approaches to poverty alleviation, ACCION was among 45 organizations awarded the 2008 Social Capitalist Award byFast CompanyMagazine/Monitor Group. ACCION has also been awarded Charity Navigator’s highest rating – four stars – for efficiency and sound fiscal management, for the second consecutive year.  For more information, visitwww.accion.org.

ACCION® is a registered trademark of Accion.

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Bruce MacDonald
VP, Communications
Tel: +1-617-625-7080, x1245

Petronella Chigara
Head, Africa Hub
Accion – Accra
Tel. +233 21769890