CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 20, 2016 — Accion announced today that Tahira Dosani and Vikas Raj have been named the new Managing Directors of Accion Venture Lab, Accion’s impact investment initiative. Accion Venture Lab provides patient seed capital and support to innovative financial inclusion start-ups, fostering experimentation and promoting business models that improve the efficiency, reach, and scope of financial services for people living in poverty worldwide. Founding managing director Paul Breloff, who led the initiative in its first four years, is pursuing a start-up in the human capital space in India and will remain a strategic advisor.
“Tahira and Vikas have been instrumental in establishing Accion Venture Lab as a leading early-stage investor in the financial inclusion industry and advancing its role as both investor and advisor to inclusive fintech innovators,” said Michael Schlein, CEO and President of Accion. “We are excited for them to build on that success and bring the Venture Lab model to scale. Venture Lab will continue to support innovative business approaches that leverage emerging fintech applications for financial inclusion.”
Both Dosani and Raj bring an extensive working knowledge of Venture Lab’s work, having served as its Director of Portfolio Engagement and Director of Investments, respectively. Prior to joining Venture Lab, Dosani led strategic projects and partnerships at LeapFrog Investments; managed investments and supported the portfolio at the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development in Dubai; led strategy for and launched key products at Afghanistan’s leading mobile network operator Roshan; and was a management consultant with Bain & Company and The Bridgespan Group. Prior to his time at Venture Lab, Raj worked in Mergers and Acquisitions investment banking at Evercore Partners, in microfinance investing and operations at Ujjivan Financial Services in India and Catalyst Microfinance Investors in West Africa, India, and Southeast Asia; and was a management consultant with Deloitte Consulting.
Since its launch in 2012, Venture Lab has invested more than $9 million in 24 portfolio companies that are active in more than 15 markets around the world. Its unique model leverages the global Accion network and blends flexible financial and non-financial support to support the needs of its investees – innovators themselves in the fields of fintech, small and medium enterprise lending, alternative data and credit scoring, and consumer finance, among others. Venture Lab’s grant supporters to-date include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CGAP, Credit Suisse, MasterCard’s Center for Inclusive Growth, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Venture Lab is a project of Accion, a pioneer in the field of financial inclusion for 55 years. Today, Accion’s impact investing vehicles include Venture Lab; the Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund (managed by Quona Capital), the first global emerging markets fintech fund for the financially underserved; and investments in top-tier microfinance institutions.
Accion is a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world with economic opportunity for all, by giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives. We are building the next generation of top-tier microfinance institutions, and over more than 50 years have helped build 65 such institutions in 32 countries on four continents that today reach millions of clients. Our impact investing initiatives are pushing beyond microfinance to catalyze more than 20 innovative start-ups dedicated to improving the efficiency, reach, and scope of financial services for the poor. And our Center for Financial Inclusion is helping to build a stronger industry with high standards and broad engagement. Currently, our work spans nearly two dozen countries, including the U.S., where we are the nation’s largest nonprofit microfinance network. For further information, visit http://www.accion.org.