Unique Nonprofits: Accion

Accion is an international organization that seeks to achieve what it calls a “financially inclusive” world, one in which all people have access the tools and services they need to develop the financial literacy necessary to make their dreams come true. To reach this ambitious goal, Accion takes a multi-faceted approach, one which involves partnering with local financial organizations across five continents.

What makes this nonprofit stand out is the corporate strategy it takes to achieve its charitable purpose. Internationally, Accion invests in microfinance institutions and here in the United States, the organization makes direct loans ranging from $500 to $250,000 to small businesses that are seeking capital. Since 1991, Accion has made loans to over 50,000 small businesses, many of which are women and minority-owned and operate across a wide spectrum of fields, from food service to health and welfare. Unlike the work of many nonprofits that focus on community development, this model leverages its value of financial inclusion to create a domino effect; the more that their small businesses succeed, the more jobs they create and the more they engage and serve their own local communities.

The effect is remarkable. Accion already knows that the majority of their clients increase revenue and staff size within a year of receiving their loan. Last year, they initiated a multi-year study to understand bigger and longer-term effects of this model, have a look at the preliminary results here. Contrary to what its corporate strategy might suggest, Accion is really looking at how entrepreneurs are defining success for themselves, and how the organization’s services can help them achieve it. Whether it’s a question of growth, stability, balance, or job creation, this is one unique nonprofit that is expanding the boundaries of what it means to be a charitable organization.