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Accion Venture Lab launches new fund for fintech startups

Anna Lyudvig
Sept. 12, 2019, 11:06 p.m.
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Accion Venture Lab has added $33m to its initial capital pool, with the launch of a new $23m fund and an additional, separate $10m investment from nonpofit Accion.

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Accion Venture Lab has added $33m to its initial capital pool, with the launch of a new $23m fund and an additional, separate $10m investment from nonpofit Accion.

The new fund brings together a group of third-party impact and commercial investors that share Venture Lab’s commitment to innovative fintech startups that leverage technology to increase the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for the underserved at scale.

One of the investors - Proparco has invested $2m in Accion Venture Lab’s new fund.

Investors in Accion Venture Lab now include FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank; the Ford Foundation; the ImpactAssets Giving Fund of Blue Haven Initiative; Heifer Foundation; MetLife Foundation; Open Society Foundations; Pace Able Foundation; Proparco, the French Development Agency (AFD)’s private sector financing arm; Prudential Financial; Stichting Hivos-Triodos Fund, managed by Triodos Investment Management; and Visa Inc.

Launched in 2012 with $10m in capital, Accion Venture Lab has emerged as a leader in fintech impact investing at the seed stage.

This increased capital will allow Accion Venture Lab to further develop its activities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Accion Venture Lab will now invest an additional $33m –$10m from Accion and $23m from a co-investment vehicle with third party funds, bringing Venture Lab’s total capital under management to $43m, more than four times the initial amount.

“Despite progress, three billion people still have no safe or simple way to save money, get a loan to build a business, pay a bill, or protect their health and property with insurance,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion.

“Fintech startups are finding new ways to provide products and services that help these underserved people. Yet often startups lack the capital and strategic support they need to grow and scale their impact. Accion Venture Lab addresses this need.”

The rise of fintech holds great potential in developing countries where a significant part of the population remains under-banked and lacks access to financial services.

Women and population living in rural areas in particular would benefit greatly from such financial services allowing them to finance their businesses and facilitating savings, payments or access to credit.

The Accion Venture Lab fund intends to support startups in the early stage of their development, helping them grow and increase their impact until they can access capital provided by later-stage investors. Accessing early stage funding remains a major difficulty for young startups in developing countries.

“There is strong potential for inclusive fintech startups to reach historically underserved communities while generating returns, and the oversubscription of the Accion Venture Lab fund is great validation of our early work investing in more than 40 innovative businesses operating in 30 markets,” said Venture Lab Managing Director Vikas Raj.

“This new pool of capital enables us to scale our efforts and remain at the forefront of seed stage investing in inclusive fintech.”

The Venture Lab portfolio focuses on an evolving set of key trends within the fintech space that offer the greatest potential to reach underserved communities. Today, those include insurtech, agricultural finance, digital lending, holistic MSME finance solutions, and personal financial management.

Venture Lab also partners with philanthropic organizations whose support enables it to provide specialized and extensive strategic and operational support to its portfolio companies and to invest at the higher-risk pre-seed stage in pursuit of its mission to reach the underserved.

As Accion’s seed-stage investment initiative, Venture Lab is one component of the organization’s approach to developing the inclusive fintech ecosystem to better meet the needs of the world’s three billion financially underserved.

Other elements of this strategy include Accion’s partnership with Quona Capital and Accion’s work with industry initiatives like the Inclusive Fintech 50, which elevates early-stage fintechs addressing financial inclusion.

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