NEW YORK, March 5 (Reuters) - 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 Accion.
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)
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