Accion

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Recognized as a top International Microfinance nonprofit in the following years:
Medal-big-2009
Medal-big-2012
27 Thumbsup 8 Thumbsdown   Info-sm
"Up" is the number of experts who agree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in the field. "Down" is the number of experts who disagree that the nonprofit has had the most impact in field.
Accion
Headquarters Location: Boston, MA
Founded: 1962


Mission: Accion's mission is to give people the financial tools they need to improve thier lives.


Tags: 2012, international, microfinance, training, technical support

This organization has offices located worldwide. As the majority of our users are based in the U.S., the donation link is connected to the U.S. office.


Accion
Story: In a year filled with heartbreaking headlines out of Haiti, ACCION’s Haitian partner SOGESOL provides us with an uplifting story of success. This month, SOGESOL celebrates its tenth anniversary as a pioneer and leader in bringing reliable, commercial financial services… Read the full story.

Expert Reviews: Evidence of Impact
Accion is global nonprofit serving in 23 countries around the world to bring economic opportunities to many. Their model allows them to serve an impressive volume of clients, which not only helps those clients, but also helps to change the conversation in the sector. They offer valuable technical assistance to their affiliate organizations, and as a result, many of their affiliates are market leaders in their region.
See the complete expert review.

Leadership
Accion Michael Schlein. Michael Schlein brings more than 25 years of extensive international banking, management and public service experience to his role as President and CEO of Accion.

As President of Citigroup’s International Franchise Management, Mr. Schlein managed the bank’s network of 100 Chief Country Officers, who were responsible for performance, regulatory relations, governance and reputational risk in their respective countries. In… See full bio.


Transparency Information
Silver-big
This organization has earned the GuideStar Participation Level Silver, demonstrating its commitment to transparency (learn more)


Financial Data for US Office
Charity Navigator Rating: 3stars (profile)
Total Revenue:
$57,359,471


From the Nonprofit
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Contact Info
E-Mail:
info AT accion.org
Phone:
(617) 625-7080
Facebook:
Follow_fb
Address:
56 Roland Street, Suite 300
 
Boston, MA 02129, USA
Twitter:
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Accion Story: In a year filled with heartbreaking headlines out of Haiti, ACCION’s Haitian partner SOGESOL provides us with an uplifting story of success. This month, SOGESOL celebrates its tenth anniversary as a pioneer and leader in bringing reliable, commercial financial services to Haiti’s microentrepreneurs and low-income households.

Despite working in one of the most difficult environments on earth, SOGESOL has carefully built up a sustainable operation that currently provides $15.6 million in loans to over 11,400 people through a network of 18 urban and provincial branches, making it the largest microfinance organization in the country. SOGESOL’s growth and success is a testament to the institution’s strong management, sound lending and risk management practices and commitment to understanding and meeting its clients’ needs.

SOGESOL’s strength and stability was all the more evident in the wake of the tragic earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas on January 12th, 2010. Having dealt with a number of natural, political and economic crises in the past, SOGESOL already had a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, which was set into motion only five days after the earthquake.

Working quickly, SOGESOL staff reached out to all of their clients in the affected areas. They worked with each client to assess damages and determine how best to reestablish people’s livelihoods, based on their individual situations.

SOGESOL either refinanced or rescheduled approximately three-quarters of their $8.6 million portfolio in the affected areas, giving people the financial resources needed to get back on their feet while enjoying better loan terms, including extended repayment periods and lower interest rates in some cases. They also distributed emergency grants to 2,000 of their poorest clients, using $648,000 in money generously donated by both individuals and institutions, including Accion’s Support Haiti Fund and members of Accion’s network.
Altogether, the efforts of SOGESOL’s committed staff helped over 8,000 Haitian microentrepreneurs restore their homes and businesses in the months following the earthquake. And these microenterprises appear to be stable and on the path to recovery: SOGESOL finished its fiscal year in September with a remarkably healthy portfolio and a repayment rate on par with the rest of the microfinance world.

Looking ahead to 2011, SOGESOL plans to continue serving its existing clients and also increase its outreach by extending credit and other financial services to roughly 4,000 new microentrepreneurs.

Today, with loan capital to restock their shelves, keep their machines running, or pay their staff, SOGESOL’s clients feel both fortunate and hopeful. Undoubtedly the road ahead for these microentrepreneurs—and all Haitians— is filled with challenges. This is why local, sustainable support, like the kind SOGESOL provides, will become increasingly important.

Accion is proud of what SOGESOL has achieved over the last ten years—and, in particular, this year. They have built a strong and permanent resource that will help countless Haitians to build better futures in the years to come.

Expert Reviews of Accion

Evidence of Impact Summary:

Accion is global nonprofit serving in 23 countries around the world to bring economic opportunities to many. Their model allows them to serve an impressive volume of clients, which not only helps those clients, but also helps to change the conversation in the sector. They offer valuable technical assistance to their affiliate organizations, and as a result, many of their affiliates are market leaders in their region.
See expert comments.

Organization Strengths Summary:

Many experts commented on the knowledge and expertise that Accion offers. The staff members on board are experienced across an array of topics in the industry, and are also thought leaders in the field. Accion's leadership is visionary and offers the organization stability. The organization offers an array of services and microfinance products that are truly beneficial to clients. So much so, that many of their clients go on to become leaders in their region. The organization’s track record is another great asset for Accion.
See expert comments.

Areas for Improvement Summary:

Experts point out that the great work Accion is doing could inadvertently be undermined by the organization’s recent shift in practices. Their shifted focus seems to prioritize the organization’s financial goals over their social goals. They may wish to reconsider this shift. Given the organization’s size, they may also want to look closely at how their actions impact the sector as a whole - but in terms of identifying opportunities to support the sector and also in terms of how negative publicity may impact the industry. ACCION could also reach out to clients in more rural communities.
See expert comments.

Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact

Select the boxes to display the results according to expert type.

Show:
X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Excelent Partnerships

R
They have been working with best-in-class microfinance institutions around the world promoting innovative products.

Great Management Approach

N
ACCION has had an impact through high outreach among the very poor. They also have a social-impact orientation in their management approach.

Quality Technical Assistance

N
ACCION provides top-notch technical assistance to microfinance institutions, and also publishes information about microfinance issues in general.
N
ACCION has provided technical assistance in key areas (governance, organizational development, financial management, etc.) that has allowed its affiliates to scale up while maintaining portfolio quality. Several of its affiliates are market leaders in Latin America.
O
ACCION has a strong technical team, clear products, and gives very high quality technical assistance to affiliates. Specifically, I would cite affiliates and graduates of the ACCION network such as Genesis Empresarial in Guatemala, Compartamos in Mexico, and some in East Europe/Central Asia and Africa (Uganda).

Taking Microfinance to Scale

N
I think ACCION’s partner outreach numbers speak for themselves in terms of demonstrating how microfinance can be taken to a massive scale. Unfortunately, there haven't been enough studies done to understand whether this financial services expansion has produced the hoped for economic and social benefits, but I include them in this list because they have had an undeniable impact on shaping the agenda and thinking in the sector.
F
Their impact is evident in the scope and sheer number of loans made and people reached.
N
ACCION, just in sheer numbers, has led the way in reaching scale and sustainable banking for lower income microfinance clients. It has also had a huge impact and stirred the pot in the microfinance industry.
N
ACCION Texas is the largest and most effective nonprofit lender in the United States. The 2004 study, “Economic and Community Impact of ACCION Texas Lending” by Economist Jon Hockenyos of Texas Perspectives, Inc., confirmed that for every dollar loaned, an additional 60 cents in new economic activity is created. Between 1994 and early 2011, ACCION Texas, Inc. made $109.3 million in loans, which produced $175 million in new economic activity. Their micro loans also create employment. ACCION borrowers sustained over 4,000 jobs and created almost 2,200 new jobs between June 1994 and 2008.
N
They have been a pioneer in microfinance since 1980, first commercialization starting in Bolivia and then extending to the rest of the developing world and the USA.


Expert Comments: Organization Strengths

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X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Great Leadership

O
Succession in leadership has been very strong while retaining program continuity. Staff experience has led to strong program implementation.
N
They have very forward-thinking CEOs, both in the general company and the Center for Financial Inclusion. These CEOs have a strong vision of what needs to be done to keep microfinance on mission. They also stay involved at industry and policymaking levels to make sure it happens.
N
I'd like to point out a distinction between organizations that offer the world of microfinance a guiding example of good practice but have very little direct voice in global policy debates and those that use guiding examples to articulate policy positions to become thought leaders in the world of microfinance. ACCION is strong in both dimensions. Several of their affiliates have become guiding examples and ACCION has effectively used these and other examples to formulate and project a distinctive and influential point of view in global policy debates.

Impressive Track Record

R
Their partner microfinance institutions are now some of the best known microfinance institutions around the world.

Knowledgeable Staff

N
They have a strong presence in Latin America and a wide range of microfinance expertise.
N
ACCION has attracted a strong staff with expertise in many key technical areas. They also have published a lot of useful books and manuals on diverse topics in the sector.
N
The folks at ACCION are good at taking a particular challenge and working on it intensively until they have come up with a possible way forward. They have strong technical expertise and the funds to invest in innovation and pushing the envelope. ACCION brings a highly professional approach to each of the key sector challenges that it chooses to tackle.
N
ACCION has a team of high caliber, experienced practitioners and thought leaders to push the envelope for the industry in areas such as consumer protection, commercialization, savings, and non-credit products.

Great Communications

F
They have tremendous PR. No other organization gets as much ink in the media. They also are strong in attracting corporate and foundation support.

Quality Services

O
They are leaders in the Smart Finance Initiative.
N
ACCION Texas, part of the larger ACCION network, is strong in terms of how it interfaces with its business development clients to create trusted relationships, and how it offers a range of needed services to help clients build better lives. Such services include the ability to obtain credit, financial and business training, a sense of confidence in themselves as business people, independence, the security of knowing they have a reliable source of financing, and networking with other ACCION businesses.


Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement

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X
Foundation Professionals (F)
X
Researchers and Faculty (R)
X
Nonprofit Senior Staff (N)
X
Other (consultants, journalists, policy makers) (O)

Improve Outreach

O
They should improve on their application of lessons learned. Also, the outreach side of programs needs to be improved
R
They need to start working on the provision of financial services in rural areas tailored to agriculture and clients in remote locations.

Prioritize Social Bottom-Line

N
They need to become more focused on microfinance clients. The new leadership is very corporate and may be losing touch with the core clientele.
N
They have opted for a model that takes minority stakes in their commercialized affiliates. This limits their ability to influence policy and decisions relating to the social impact of their work vs. achievement of financial goals. This means their affiliates could at some point depart from the social mission by de-emphasizing it and instead focusing on reaching financial goals.
N
They need more of focus on the social bottom line. More investment is needed in studying outcomes. They would also be well-served to look at more openly collaborating with others working along the same lines, rather than taking a competitive or proprietary position. I would like to see ACCION become more client-centered. It's focus on client protection, while it has been helpful to the sector, is missing an appreciation of the extreme vulnerability of poor and very poor and places to much responsibility on them to protect themselves. An important challenge in the sector that I wish ACCION would tackle is reducing client vulnerability.

Work Better within the Sector

F
They received extremely poor press over the Comportamos fiasco. The entire microfinance industry took a huge hit as many donors disapproved of what appears to be Board Members and others getting wealthy off the poor and from the donations of others. We all lost credibility as a result.
N
ACCION has some challenges with management and effective use of resources across its many parts. It will eventually need to move away from an institution focus on broader areas of support to grow the capacity of the industry, rather than just focusing on its own members.
N
They should work with other lenders and stop trying to dump their bad loans off on them.

Emphazise Savings

N
They could improve by placing more emphasis on savings.


Leadership

Accion
Michael Schlein
President and CEO
Michael Schlein brings more than 25 years of extensive international banking, management and public service experience to his role as President and CEO of Accion.

As President of Citigroup’s International Franchise Management, Mr. Schlein managed the bank’s network of 100 Chief Country Officers, who were responsible for performance, regulatory relations, governance and reputational risk in their respective countries. In previous roles, he oversaw Citi's Global Corporate Affairs and Human Resources divisions. A member of Citigroup's Operating Committee, he also served as Executive Director of Citi’s Business Practices Committee, and as a Director of Citibank, N.A., Poland’s Bank Handlowy and Citibank Korea, Inc.

Prior to his senior posts at Citi, Mr. Schlein was appointed Chief of Staff at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He earlier served as Chief of Staff to the NYC Deputy Mayor for Finance and Economic Development. He began his career in public finance at Smith Barney.

Mr. Schlein has been involved with microfinance for many years, serving on the Board and Executive Committee of Accion before becoming CEO and President, and playing a leadership role at the Citi Foundation, which has a long history of funding microfinance initiatives. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Schlein holds a bachelor's degree in economics and a master’s degree in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1984. He resides with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

From the Nonprofit

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