Accion Venture Lab LP
Theory of Change
Accion Venture Lab invests globally in early-stage financial technology (fintech) companies that are expanding the range of high-quality financial services for underserved populations. Accion Venture Lab looks for scalable, innovative, commercially viable, and impact-oriented start-ups that are using technology to meaningfully drive innovation in affordability, quality, and access to financial services. Through its Portfolio Engagement team, Accion Venture Lab provides hands-on strategic and operational support to investees. Since it started investing in 2012, Accion Venture Lab has invested in more than 60 companies operating in over 35 countries.
Challenge and Context
The COVID-19 pandemic mobilized financial inclusion efforts across the world through several mechanisms, including the emergency relief payments that governments sent to bank accounts and debit cards. Despite growth in account ownership and use, the Global Findex 2021 found that 24 percent of the global adult population remains unbanked, foremost women, the poor, youth, and those outside the formal workforce.
The technology landscape is evolving and combined with increased mobile and broadband penetration presents an opportunity to address cost hurdles and predatory practices that have precluded many from receiving the financial services that they need, including in the form of new solutions catered to the needs of these customers.
Accion Venture Lab will directly impact the lives of millions of low-income households and small businesses that are currently under or unbanked. Indirectly, Accion Venture Lab is evidencing the economic viability of investing in early stage fintech companies, supporting financial inclusion and changing the way that financial markets operate in serving vulnerable unbanked populations. This is expected to result in Accion Venture Lab continuing to successfully leverage the capital markets to crowd in additional capital into the companies it supports to help them grow.
SEDF’s capital helped launch Accion Venture Lab’s first fund, while SEDF’s mission and expertise contributed to shaping how Accion Venture Lab has approached financial inclusion for marginalized populations (e.g., refugees, smallholder farmers, and women in the informal economy).