Washington, DC, February 1, 2023 – Global nonprofit Accion today announced a $1 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to increase access to financial services and entrepreneurship opportunities for refugee women in Ethiopia and Uganda. Accion will partner with local financial service providers to better understand the needs of refugees and their host communities, while expanding access to income-generating opportunities, working capital, and training to refugee women.

Ethiopia and Uganda host more than two million refugees that are typically located in rural communities underserved by social services and employment opportunities. Refugees face barriers to accessing financial services and employment due to lack of identification, digital literacy, and mobile phones. Women are especially constrained by childcare and household responsibilities, which may limit their ability to work outside of the home.

Through partnerships with financial service providers and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, Accion will expand access to business opportunities, such as e-commerce, for income generation, as well as training and access to affordable capital to provide new opportunities for women to start their own businesses. Accion will also work with local financial service providers to develop new solutions tailored to the needs of refugee women and their families and promote financial resilience and well-being.

“We are excited to partner with the Hilton Foundation to provide women refugees with access to financial services, enabling them to build economic resilience by setting up small businesses that serve their communities,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion. “Together with our partners, Accion is focused on providing responsible financial services that meet the needs of women and underserved people around the world.”

“We are proud to support Accion’s work to improve the lives of refugee and host community women in Ethiopia and Uganda,” said Barri Shorey, Senior Program Officer for the Refugees initiative at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “Ensuring women’s access to employment, entrepreneurship, and financial services is crucial not only for their family’s livelihoods and well-being but also for local and national economies.”

In Uganda, Accion has a long-standing partnership with UGAFODE, a microfinance deposit institution, on a Financial Inclusion for Refugees initiative. Over the next two years, Accion and UGAFODE will continue to expand access to financial services to refugee women in Uganda, including savings and credit products, and financial literacy and capacity building programs.

In Ethiopia, Accion is working with several partners across the ecosystem to develop, pilot, and scale a micro-retailer distributorship program, which will provide credit products to refugee women to start their own businesses, as well as additional logistics support and training.

New partnerships with local financial service providers, corporates, technology companies, and humanitarian organizations operating in these communities will be developed over the course of the program, providing new products and services that meet the needs of refugee women and their communities, ensuring a pathway to sustainable and scalable solutions.


About Accion

Accion is a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a trailblazing legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. We catalyze financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the 1.8 billion people who are left out of — or poorly served by — the financial sector. Since 1961, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through our work with more than 200 partners in 63 countries. More at accion.org.

About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to ensure healthy early childhood development and sustainable livelihoods for youth, support young people transitioning out of foster care, improve access to housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, and lift the work of Catholic sisters. Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with approximately $8.5 billion in assets. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $2.4 billion, $339 million worldwide in 2021. Please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org for more information.