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Annual Report 2012
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The year 2012 was one of remarkable achievements. With a focused strategy, major investments and professional expertise, we made major progress in our mission: giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives.
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First, we are helping to build the next generation of top-tier microfinance institutions. Click to read more
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Second, we are pushing the frontiers of financial inclusion beyond microfinance institutions through impact investing. Click to read more
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Last, we are helping to build a strong industry with high standards. Click to read more

Letter from the President and Board Chair

It was a very good year, and we have terrific momentum – and with your continued support, we will keep it going.

This is an image of Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion

Michael Schlein

President and CEO

This is an image of Diana Taylor, Chair of Accion’s Board of Directors

Diana L. Taylor

Board Chair

Dear friends,

At the end of last year, we committed to investing $100 million over three years to help build financial inclusion for the world’s poor. In 2012 alone, we invested no less than $67 million in pursuit of our strategic goals: to build the next generation of top-tier microfinance institutions (MFIs), to push the frontiers of financial inclusion beyond MFIs, and to help build a stronger industry. With your support, we have made significant progress in all three areas.

Among our most notable milestones in 2012 was the successful closing of Accion Investments in Microfinance, a for-profit equity fund launched in 2003 to provide commercial capital to MFIs working in markets where such funding was typically unavailable. The fund proved that a double-bottom-line approach – delivering both financial and social returns – really is possible. Over its life, it generated more than 15 percent returns to shareholders. More importantly, it helped fund access to financial services for more than a million clients in Latin America and Africa.

We also committed our capital and professional expertise to strengthen MFIs in Bolivia, China, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines – countries where financial inclusion remains elusive for millions of people living in poverty.

The second pillar of our strategy is to invest in innovative new companies with compelling new products and services created specifically for those living in poverty. We are doing that through two vehicles: Accion’s Frontier Investments Group and our $10-million Venture Lab. The following pages detail the exciting work these two groups are doing, including support for affordable housing and private-school financing for the poor in India, ‘nano-loans’ delivered by cell phone in Chile, and mining ‘big data’ to assess character for unsecured lending.

Third, we continue to invest in building a strong industry with high standards. Leading this charge is the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, whose Smart Campaign for consumer protection already boasts more than 3,600 endorsers in 135 countries, representing more than 1,200 MFIs that collectively serve no fewer than 60 million clients.

The Center is also leading the campaign for Financial Inclusion 2020. With sponsors and partners such as Citi, Visa, MasterCard, Western Union, Moody’s, Deutsche Bank, CGAP, IFC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the audacious FI2020 project dares to envision a financially inclusive world – and to chart the course for turning that vision into reality.

It was a very good year, and we have terrific momentum – and with your continued support, we will keep it going.

Thank you.

Our Clients

The investments we’re most proud of are the millions of lives we impact every day by helping to provide critical financial services.

Moving Toward Full Financial Inclusion

building top-tier
microfinance institutions

At Accion, we refer to 2012 as “the year of investments.” Not only did we make significant investments of equity and human capital in new and ongoing projects worldwide, but we also successfully closed Accion Investments in Microfinance, certainly among the most effective socially responsible impact funds in history.

The Power of the Double Bottom Line. 15.62% return Realized in the sale of Accion Investments in Microfinance fund, while helping to serve more than one million clients over its 10-year history.

Over its 10 years of groundbreaking work, Accion Investments helped provide financial access for a million clients in Africa and Latin America, all while returning 15.62 percent, or more than $2 for every dollar invested, to shareholders. And it proved that MFI funding could attract private capital, which we believe is critical if financial inclusion is to scale to meet true demand.

We also invested, or partnered to draw in investment, in MFIs all over the world. In Bolivia and Colombia, we recapitalized our longtime partners BancoSol and Finamérica, respectively, so that they can better serve people in need. In China, we are raising more than $60 million to replicate Accion Microfinance China’s unique model throughout China. We are doing this in partnership with Sagamore Investments, which has committed up to $22 million, and with a number of other investors. In Mexico, we invested nearly $2 million in CrediConfía, a young MFI serving microentrepreneurs and low-income families in the rural and semi-urban areas of the eastern and central regions of the country. And in the Philippines, we helped launch Bridge, a holding operating company that will invest $24 million and help build capacity in provincial banks in underserved areas.

To help improve the labor-intensive process of microlending, we also launched a dynamic pilot program in Colombia called Avanza, which holds the promise of making microloans a much more cost-effective service for clients and institutions alike. Working with Finamérica, Avanza uses mobile teams of loan officers and a risk-adjusted approach to reach, enroll and process loan applications from new and existing clients. The program has already reduced loan disbursement time from an average of five days to as little as 18 hours. We hope that by year’s end, a client could meet with a loan officer in the morning and receive a loan by late that afternoon. To date (Q2, 2013), more than 3,000 clients have benefitted from Avanza.

Our work in China was recognized for its innovation and pioneering, while our work in Nigeria was also recognized for its excellence. Philanthropedia named Accion among the most effective nonprofits in the field of microfinance. (Philanthropedia is a division of GuideStar, a leader in nonprofit analysis that tracks almost two million organizations.)

Because financial tools are put to best use by those with the knowledge to wield them, we continue to build our Dialogue on Business skills training and financial literacy programs. In Latin America we have helped train nearly three quarters of a million entrepreneurs; we are now accelerating these programs in India, where Accion has partnered with Muthoot Pappachan Group, Mann Deshi Bank, the Aga Khan Foundation, Citi Foundation and Friends of Women’s World Banking. To date, Accion in India and its partners have brought financial literacy and business skills, in five different languages, to more than 50,000 Indian women.

We continue to explore new opportunities for partnerships in Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Myanmar and elsewhere, where we believe that our experience can help open the door of financial inclusion to millions more people.

Pushing the Frontiers of Financial
Inclusion Beyond Microfinance Institutions

Impact investing uses venture-capital tools to generate both financial and social returns, and it is instrumental in helping to build financial inclusion through the provision of new products and services for the poor.

Recognized For Good. Impact assets 50 recognized Accion as one of the top impact-investing fund managers in 2012

Impact investing uses venture-capital tools to generate both financial and social returns, and it is instrumental in helping to build financial inclusion through the provision of new products and services for the poor. In Asia, Africa and Latin America, we are seeing scores of dynamic new start-up companies whose missions and markets are sharply focused on the bottom of the economic pyramid. In many cases, lack of access to funding, technical support and business mentoring stand in their way.

That is why, throughout 2012, we continued to make early-stage investments through our Frontier Investments Group in promising young companies such as Tiaxa, a mobile services provider that gives prepaid phone users instantaneous access to ‘nanoloans.’ And in Shubham, which offers mortgages for quality, affordable housing to low-income clients in India. Frontier also invested in early 2012 in Zoona (formerly MTZ) a mobile payments business in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique that is transforming the way people and organizations transact business by reducing reliance on cash.

Frontier’s important role in impact investing was recognized this past year by ImpactAssets 50, the first open-source, publicly published database of experienced private-debt and equity-impact investment fund managers, identified for their ability to deliver both social and financial returns.

Equally compelling was the launch, in April 2012, of Accion’s Venture Lab – our seed-stage investment initiative – which has closed its first five investments:

  • Clip, a Mexican payments company that enables a much broader range of merchants to accept credit, debit and other types of cards using a smartphone plug-in.
  • Coda Payments, a transaction-processing platform for Indonesian clients that makes it easier for customers to buy goods and services using prepaid mobile accounts.
  • DemystData, which pulls ‘big data’ – information from online and social-media sources – to help companies offer financial services to new customers who may have no previous credit history.
  • SaludFÁCIL, which offers low-income customers credit to cover basic medical procedures in Mexico.
  • Varthana, which provides loans and support to affordable private schools in India, promoting access to quality education for India’s poor and middle classes.

committed to a
stronger, better industry

The Campaign recently launched its certification program, an independent, third-party evaluation designed to publicly recognize financial institutions that meet appropriate standards of care in how they treat clients. Certification will enable microfinance institutions to demonstrate their commitment to client protection.

Keeping Clients First. 60 Million clients represented by more than 1,200 MFIs and individuals in 135 countries have signed on to the Smart Campaign’s Consumer Protection Principles

Early in 2013, the Center for Financial Inclusion launched Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI2020) – an unprecedented collaboration involving sponsors Citi, Visa, MasterCard, Western Union, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Moody’s and Deutsche Bank, as well as 50 other partners such as CGAP and the IFC who are involved in various working groups. FI2020 is a global movement to engage the world’s key players – governments, corporations and NGOs – who can help make financial inclusion a reality by the end of the decade.

FI2020 is comprised of two distinct projects. ‘Mapping the Invisible Market’ is researching how changing demographics and income in developing countries will shape the need for financial services around the globe. The ‘Roadmap to Financial Inclusion’ is comprised of five distinct working groups concentrating on the key challenges we face in reaching full financial inclusion and what can be done to overcome them.

The work of the various FI2020 task forces and working groups will culminate in the Financial Inclusion 2020 Forum in London in October 2013, convening leaders from around the world and across industries to strategize on how we can work together to make financial inclusion a reality.

To strengthen the industry, we also continued to improve collaboration through the Microfinance CEO Working Group, which comprises the heads of Accion, FINCA, Freedom from Hunger, Grameen Foundation, Opportunity International, Pro Mujer, Vision Fund and Women’s World Banking. The Group has reaffirmed its commitment to the Smart Campaign, to MicroFinance Transparency and to the Social Performance Task Force, and joined with other global microfinance leaders to issue the ‘Global Appeal for Responsible Microfinance,’ a landmark document urging all microfinance stakeholders to take concerted action to ensure a strong and principled industry.

In 2012, the Social Performance Task Force released its Universal Standards for Social Performance Management and reported on how a group of select MFIs tested adherence to those standards. We believe that the standards are a critical step forward for microfinance, and we hope other institutions will take on the challenge of assessing themselves and implementing them.

A key part of our commitment to strengthening the microfinance industry and expanding financial inclusion is training microfinance professionals around the globe. We help them prepare to become managers and leaders in the field through specialized training programs, workshops and exposure visits. In 2012, more than 3,800 microfinance professionals were trained through our programs.

Today, the microfinance industry reaches about 200 million clients. That’s an impressive number – but when we consider the 2.5 billion people who live in poverty and still lack access to financial services, it’s clear that we have much more work to do. By building the next generation of top-tier microfinance institutions, by investing in innovative new companies, and by strengthening an industry through higher standards, we can move significantly closer to our vision of a financially inclusive world.

U.S. Network

Small businesses flourish, people find job opportunities and communities thrive when entrepreneurs in the United States can access affordable capital. The Accion U.S. Network increases access by scaling innovation, building partnerships and focusing on rigorous impact evaluation and research.

46 thousand loans totaling $360 million made by the Accion U.S. Network since its inception in 1991

Small loans incite sustainable change, and Accion is uniquely positioned to bring this change to meaningful scale in the United States. Five Accion member organizations headquartered in cities throughout the United States form the largest micro- and small business-lending network in the country.

Since 1991, member organizations in the Accion U.S. Network have provided more than 46,000 loans totaling more than $360 million. In 2012 alone, they lent more than $36 million to businesses nationwide. The work of the Network, established in 2011, multiplies the opportunity it creates for small business owners nationwide.

Building National Partnerships
Groundbreaking corporate partnerships are allowing Accion to reach greater numbers of small business owners across the country, deepen work in existing markets and provide increased opportunities for entrepreneurial training.

In 2008, network member Accion East and Online launched the Brewing the American Dream program, a partnership with the Boston Beer Company in Massachusetts. In 2012, the program expanded nationally to provide funds and training opportunities to low-to-moderate-income entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry, disbursing $827,000 in loans to more than 80 entrepreneurs; in addition, more than 700 individuals.


  • Accion Chicago expanded lending by launching the Chicago Microlending Institute – a public-private partnership designed to increase microloan access to small business owners within the city.
  • Accion East and Online helped more than 70 small businesses with over $1 million after Hurricane Sandy through its Sandy Recovery Business Loan Program.
  • Accion New Mexico· Arizona · Colorado disbursed a record $5.6 million in new loans and received the national Access to Capital Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.
  • Accion San Diego saw a record year in lending, disbursing $2.1 million in loans – an 82 percent increase from the year before – and increasing its loan portfolio to over $3 million.
  • Accion Texas continued its successful expansion in the Delta region, investing $1.4 million in new offices in Birmingham and Memphis and expanding small business education programs.


Accion is a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world. We work to create economic opportunity by connecting people to the financial tools they need to improve their lives. Begun as a grassroots community development initiative in 22 shantytowns in Venezuela, today we are one of the premier microfinance organizations in the world, with a network of lending partners that spans Latin America, Africa, India, China and the United States.

Global Impact. 63 microfinance institutions in 32 countries on four continents since 1961 Active Borrowers. 6 million active borrowers in 2012, impacting the lives of 30 million family members and employees Active Loan Portfolio. 7.1 billion active loan portfolio, in dollars in 2012, made through partners Active Savers. 2.3 million active savers in 2012, with $3.4 billion in savings deposits People Served. 15.8 million people served in the past decade through 66.6 million microloans, totaling $56.8 billion lent Loan Repayment. 97 percent loan repayment rate over time, worldwide
Revenues pie chart. This pie chart shows Accion’s revenues in 2012, as follows. Total revenues equal 35,861,058 dollars, of which 34 percent (or 12,173,159 dollars) were contributions and grants; 18 percent (or 6,315,261 dollars) was from dividend and interest income from program investments; 9 percent (or 3,337,685 dollars) was from dividend and interest income from short-term investments; 31 percent (or 11,007,515 dollars) was from management fees; and 8 percent (or 3,027,438 dollars) was from contract revenues and training fees. Functional expenses pie chart. This pie chart shows Accion’s functional expenses during 2012, as follows. Total functional expenses were 44,195,117 dollars, of which 49 percent (or 21,552,891 dollars) were for global programs and microfinance institutions; 19 percent (or 8,433,929 dollars) were for global investments; 9 percent (or 4,031,672 dollars) were for the Center for Financial Inclusion; 4 percent (or 1,856,366 dollars) were for communications; 12 percent (or 5,308,137 dollars) were for general and administrative expenses; and 7 percent (or 3,012,122 dollars) were for fundraising.
Financial Statements. Download PDF Partner Results. Download PDF Visit Annual Report 2011

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A Gift of Stock

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Socially Responsible Investments

Accion’s Bridge Guarantee Lenders allows individual investors to help secure the financial sustainability of microfinance institutions around the world while earning both social and financial returns.

Please visit to learn more about these options. Accion staff may be reached at 617-625-7080 x1109 or by email at

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