Through its seed-stage impact investing initiative Venture Lab, Accion partners with emerging fintech startups such as Tienda Pago, a mobile platform that provides short-term working capital for small businesses. Tools like this enable entrepreneurs to make larger purchases and keep their shelves fully stocked and their businesses growing.
In Bangladesh, BRAC’s app-based cash collection system has provided 8,500 tablets to credit officers, enabling them to do cash collection in the field. This paperless process will save time and money — an estimated $1 million per year — and allow credit officers to serve clients better by having information readily available.
FINCA Zambia’s agent network equips local merchants and shopkeepers with devices that connect to FINCA bank accounts easily and securely through biometric fingerprints, allowing them to provide basic banking services in areas where FINCA does not have a presence. This program was awarded the Governor’s Award for Innovation in July 2016.
Grameen Foundation India (GFI), in partnership with Sonata Microfinance and mobile payments provider Oxigen, completed a pilot of an initiative that has enabled more than 23,000 rural women to date to repay microloans via mobile phone. This reduces travel time to local bank branches and raises financial and digital literacy. In addition, Sonata Microfinance was able to improve its efficiency, better manage cash flow, and reduce security risks for its loan officers.
Opportunity International’s EduFinance program uses an innovative approach to target quality improvements in education through a “self-improving school system” framework. School leaders and teachers self-select into clusters to exchange insights and experiences with the common goal of improving education quality. Opportunity International provides resources and support through Education Specialists, local education experts that lead professional development training sessions, and self-assessment tools that guide school development. This commitment to education was recognized when Opportunity Bank of Uganda was named one of three finalists for the 2016 European Microfinance Award for Microfinance and Access to Education.
Originally developed to assist people in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, in 2016 VisionFunds’ Financial Disaster Risk Management program was extended to assist families devastated by particularly severe El Niño weather patterns in Africa. Designed to help individuals rebuild their livelihoods and restore their independence in the wake of a natural disaster, the program uses grant aid along with additional commercial funding to scale recovery response. In recognition of its Asian Region Disaster Insurance Scheme, VisionFund International was awarded the Asian Development Bank’s Civil Society Partnership Award for 2016.