Non-profit Accion to fund financial service startups for the underserved

Promoting financial inclusion

Microfinance non-profit Accion International is creating a new fund, Venture Lab, to provide seed capital and management support to startups using new technologies to promote financial inclusion. The fund, worth $10 million, will invest equity or convertible debt worth of around $100,000 to $300,000 in startups that have completed R&D and want to take their products to market. Run from the US, it will base staff in East Africa and India to make its first investments. Subsequent expansion to Latin America won’t exclude funding startups from anywhere in the world that focus on financing underserved communities.

Venture Lab hopes to focus on mobile financial services, financial services based on the internet or social media, and general use of technologies such as internet, mobile web and cloud computing to deliver financial services to excluded consumers. It will also cover embedded financial services such as pay-as-you-go renewable energy or housing projects; specialised credit underwriting and delivery models.

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