Microfinance Milestone: ACCION Reaches 2.5m Poor Entrepreneurs

Boston-based Nonprofit Demonstrating Scale and Sustainability
of Microfinance In Helping to Alleviate Poverty

Boston, Mass., September 12, 2007— Accion, a pioneer and leader in microfinance, today announced that the number of active clients it reaches through its partner network with small loans and other financial services has surpassed 2.5 million, and that the organization is on track to increase that number to over 3 million individuals by year-end.

Since it first began making small loans – often as low as $100 – to the poor in Brazil in 1973, ACCION has been building an alliance of global partners to reach microentrepreneurs around the world.  Although it took 30 years to build a network that provided a million clients with access to financial services, ACCION and its partners reached the second million a mere three years later, in 2006.   Reaching another 500,000 active clients has taken less than a year.

“For international development and poverty alleviation to be effective, the tools must be both sustainable and scaleable,” said María Otero, ACCION president and CEO.  “Microfinance, as the numbers show, is proving to be both.

“We’re pleased with our progress because we’ve seen over and over again that microfinance changes lives,” she continued.  “But we’re also mindful of the task ahead – reaching the estimated 750 million to 1 billion people in the world who would benefit from such financial access.”

In 2006, ACCION helped deliver a total of $3.72 billion in small loans to microentrepreneurs through its international network of 35 partners, working with an operating budget of only $18.6 million.

Additional highlights for ACCION within the last year have included a major new partnership with AIG to help expand microfinance beyond credit; the establishment of new microfinance operations in Nigeria, Ghana and China; expansion in India; and the creation of a new equity fund to finance innovative microfinance technology and infrastructure. The Boston-based nonprofit operates in 25 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and also in the United States through its sister organization, ACCION USA.

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 17.9 million loans totaling more than $12.3 billion; 97 percent of the loans have been repaid.  Selected for the fourth consecutive year for its pioneering approaches to poverty alleviation, ACCION was among 43 organizations awarded the 2007 Social Capitalist Award by Fast Company magazine. ACCION has also been awarded Charity Navigator’s highest rating―four stars―for efficiency and sound fiscal management.  For more information, visitwww.accion.org.

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

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