| NEW YORK, March 5
NEW YORK, March 5 U.S. non-profit Accion
International and venture capital firm Quona Capital Management
Ltd have raised $141 million for a new fund that will invest in
financial technology startups that provide services to
underserved consumers and businesses.
The Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund will focus on companies
that provide financial services such as alternative credit,
payments, insurance and small and medium enterprise finance,
Accion and Quona said in a joint statement on Sunday.
Managed by Quona Capital, the fund will invest in startups
that target emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin
America and Asia.
The advent of the fund comes as a growing number of young
companies seek to take advantage of new technologies to make it
cheaper and easier to serve the three billion people globally
who have limited or no access to mainstream financial services,
such as savings, insurance, lending or payments.
Over the past few years many have come to believe that
technologies ranging from mobile banking solutions to credit
scoring tools that use alternative sources of data, can play a
game-changing role in helping individuals and businesses gain
financial access where established financial institutions have
not had a strong foothold.
"If you can use alternative sources of data to make the 3
billion of people who are invisible, become visible, that could
change the world," said Michael Schlein, CEO and president of
The fund has invested in eight companies to-date including
Konfio, a company that uses data analytics to offer working
capital loans to micro-businesses in Mexico. It has also backed
Yoco, a South African payments company that is seeking to expand
acceptance of digital payments in Africa.
"There is an enormous marketplace of consumers and small and
medium enterprises that are experiencing tremendous pain points
even in basic things," said Monica Brand Engel, a founding
partner at Quona Capital.
The fund, which Accion sponsors and is an anchor investor,
received investments from a number of financial institutions
including Mastercard Inc, MetLife Inc, JPMorgan
Chase & Co and the International Finance Corporation, a
member of the World Bank Group, the companies said.
(Reporting by Anna Irrera; editing by Diane Craft)