ACCION(R) International, a pioneer and leader in global microfinance, today announced that it plans to expand its investments to support the development and marketing of microinsurance services to the poor. ACCION has taken a $1.2 million equity share in ParaLife a Swiss microinsurance holding company offering financial protection to low-income populations and people with disabilities. ACCION, drawing on its microinsurance experience, institutional relationships and strong market presence in Latin America , will contribute to ParaLife's regional rollout of low-cost insurance products tailored to the needs of those at the base of the pyramid. ParaLife launched its operations in Mexico late in 2007, and ACCION is supporting the company's expansion in Colombia , where its Latin American hub office is based. ACCION has also announced a $3 million investment in Leapfrog Investments, a $100 million microinsurance investment fund headquartered in Mauritius. The fund, with an expected close in the first quarter of 2009, will build and replicate a sustainable model for developing and marketing microinsurance services to the poor, and will conduct early pilots in Africa and Asia. Leapfrog positions itself as the first global investment firm focused exclusively on businesses that meet the insurance and related financial needs of low-income people in developing countries. "The future of financial inclusion lies in moving microfinance beyond credit, offering the working poor the basic suite of financial tools that we take for granted," said ACCION's Monica Brand, principal director of ACCION's Gateway Microfinance Innovation Fund. "We believe that both ParaLife and LeapFrog will prove bellwethers for the industry, developing flexible, responsive insurance products that meet the needs of a broad range of low-income clients."
ACCION's Global Investments group invests directly in emerging market financial institutions, as well as in technology and information services, through a range of guarantee and equity funds. The group provides early-stage capital to social entrepreneurs to support them in developing innovative products and scaling services that promote financial inclusion at the base of the pyramid.