Start-ups are poised to drive innovation that will more rapidly help build a financially inclusive world. Emerging technologies — e.g., mobile money, branchless banking, social media, Big Data and cloud computing — make it cheaper and easier for entrepreneurs to get started. Meantime, potential partners such as banks and mobile network operators are more interested than ever in reaching the poor and underserved with financial services. Mobile payment platforms, internet, social media, alternative approaches to credit underwriting, niche “Base of the Pyramid” finance plays, and other innovations have the potential to catalyze the next leap in financial inclusion.
In 2012, Accion created Venture Lab — an impact investment initiative that provides seed capital and support to propel innovative startups that will have meaningful social impact. Accion’s Venture Lab model fosters experimentation and promotes business models that improve financial access for the globally under-banked.
To further Accion’s efforts, MasterCard is supporting the creation of a new role at Venture Lab, a Director of Industry Engagement & Knowledge. An industry expert will focus on synthesizing and sharing key learnings from both challenges faced, and successes seen, by Venture Lab and its portfolio companies, with the hopes of benefiting the broader industry at large. These activities will be relevant to providers, funders, investors, entrepreneurs, regulators and policy makers.