Accion Ambassadors Blog

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3 Reasons Microfinance Still Matters

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“Banco Occidente, Banco Caja Social, Citibank, BBVA…” Don Hugo listed off the banks he had taken loans from in the past. A microentrepreneur, José Hugo Beceira runs a construction shop in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Bogotá, and as he described, there is no shortage of credit for small business owners in the city. Entrepreneurs can walk into any number of NGOs, Colombian banks, or multinational banks, and walk out with a loan.

So if a microentrepreneur like Don Hugo can get the loans he needs to grow his business from so many providers, can’t we just consider this microfinance business a success and pat ourselves on the back?

Not so fast.

Though credit is widely available in major Latin American cities like Bogotá, we’re still very far from universal access, and moreover, easier access doesn’t necessarily guarantee better results for individuals or at the macroeconomic level. So, why do we need a continued focus on microfinance? Continue reading


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Navigating the Slums of Mumbai

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One of the first things you notice when arriving at Mumbai (after the popular auto-rickshaws) are the slums. These slums have become a huge part of the urban landscape, partly thanks to their size and ubiquity. In this blog, I want to share with you my experience visiting slums with Accion partner Swadhaar, and their close relationship with financial inclusion. Continue reading


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Inside a group lending project in India

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Last week, I had the opportunity to learn more about some of the work carried out by Swadhaar Information and Management Services (SIMS)  in Mumbai. In particular, I had the opportunity to visit the Meghwadi branch of the MFI. Each branch consists of six to seven loan officers who work closely with two operations officers, all under the supervision of a branch manager. The day I visited this branch, I witnessed what it is called a disbursement event for a group lending product. Continue reading


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Is Microfinance Innovating Enough?

Wrapping up my time here in Bangalore has me thinking about the big picture of financial inclusion. Microfinance is just one small piece of it; indeed, the field has moved definitively away from focusing only on credit. And, as I previously wrote, it’s no surprise that credit alone can’t do much to help people whose options are circumscribed by several layers of social exclusion and poverty. Accion’s portfolio reflects the push in financial inclusion to put resources into client protection, technological solutions and impact investing, among other hot areas. Continue reading


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Poverty and the Pope in Paraguay

Against all odds, the sun is shining brightly. There is a feeling of excitement hanging in the air – excitement, but also pride. The few cars in the street are being redirected by police and army officials. The many people, however, are allowed to pass through unobstructed on their way to the absolute highlight of the year while helicopters circle above the crowds. Avenida Mariscal López is filled with tens of thousands of people on both sides of the street, wearing yellow and white t-shirts and waving the national flag. Flanked by my fellow international interns, we pick a relatively quiet spot and get to know each other a little bit better in the two hours of waiting that follow. After all, it is only day two of this new adventure on the other side of the Atlantic. Continue reading


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Hitting the Ground Running with Client Visits on my Second Day with Akiba

At some point during our walk down the dusty, uneven road packed with minibuses and motorcycles inches away from hitting me, unfamiliar music and sounds blasting from unseen speakers, people selling everything from plastic toys to Adidas shorts to cell phones to furniture, and a profusion of life and color all around, I thought to myself, “This is exactly what I was hoping to see in Tanzania.” Continue reading