US-based nonprofit Accion has announced that its Accion Venture Lab, a USD 10 million investment vehicle that provides seed capital and management support to financial inclusion startups, has invested unspecified amounts of money in two companies: Kopo Kopo, a Kenya-based service that allows small businesses to accept customer payments through mobile phone; and MeraDoctor, which provides low-cost health insurance in India as well as 24-hour access to doctors by telephone that is intended to lessen health impacts by reducing delays in seeking care .
Launched in 2012, Accion Venture Lab places investments of USD 100,000 to USD 500,000 as either convertible debt or equity. As of 2012, Accion reports total assets of USD 326 million and, in association with its partner microfinance institutions (MFIs), has an active loan portfolio of USD 7.1 billion serving 6 million borrowers. Financial information is not available for Kopo Kopo or MeraDoctor.
By Nisha Koul, Research Associate
About Accion: Accion is a private, US-based nonprofit organization with the mission of alleviating poverty by offering financial products such as microenterprise loans and business training. Accion was founded in 1961 and issued its first microloan in 1973 in Brazil. Accion’s partner microfinance institutions provide loans to men and women entrepreneurs through 63 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 32 countries in the Americas, Asia and Africa. As of 2012, Accion reports total assets of USD 326 million and, in association with its partner MFIs, has an active loan portfolio of USD 7.1 billion serving 6 million borrowers.
About Accion Venture Lab: Accion Venture Lab is an investment vehicle that was launched with USD 10 million in 2012 by US-based nonprofit Accion. It provides capital and management support to start-up financial inclusion companies. The initiative focuses on companies in five sectors: (1) mobile financial services or business models built on branchless banking; (2) credit assessment or delivery models that finance microenterprises as well as housing, education, energy initiatives and small and medium-sized enterprises; (3) internet and social media platforms; (4) embedded financial services such as pay-as-you-go and lease-to-own products; and (5) the use of technology to improve the reach, pricing and quality of financial services. Investments of between USD 100,000 and USD 500,000 per company are made in the form of convertible debt or equity.
Sources and Additional Resources:
 Digital Journal, “Accion’s Venture Lab Closes Two New Investments,” http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1583955
MicroCapital Story, May 15, 2013, “Accion Venture Lab to Invest $10m in 5 Startups Aiming to Bring Financial Services to Poor People, Including Salud Facil of Mexico, Varthana of India,” http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-accion-venture-lab-to-invest-10m-in-5-startups-aiming-to-bring-financial-services-to-poor-people-including-salud-facil-of-mexico-varthana-of-india/
MicroCapital Story, April 5, 2012, “Accion Launches $10m Venture Lab to Invest in Microfinance Institutions, Other Financial Inclusion Start-Ups,” http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-accion-launches-10m-venture-lab-to-invest-in-microfinance-institutions-other-financial-inclusion-start-ups/
MicroCapital Universe Profile, Accion,
MicroCapital Universe Profile, Accion Venture Lab, http://www.microcapital.org/microfinanceuniverse/tiki-index.php?page=Venture+Lab
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