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Agent of Impact: Tahira Dosani of Accion Venture Lab

ImpactAlpha, Sept. 6 Fintech is having a moment in venture capital circles—a $36 billion moment. And even though most of that venture capital investment last year didn’t flow to early-stage, emerging-market startups delivering affordable services to low-income customers, Tahira Dosani thinks the flood of capital is a good thing. Dosani is co-managing director of Accion Venture Lab, Accion’s initiative for early-stage investing in financial inclusion.

“There’s more capital coming into fintech, and that means more entrepreneurs, more startups, more business models,” she told ImpactAlpha. “I generally see that as good for the customer.” She joined Venture Lab in 2013, but advancing economic and financial inclusion has been the theme of her career since a stint in Kabul in 2006, where she worked with telecom company Roshan to set up Afghanistan’s first mobile money network.

Accion Venture Lab closes $33 million to invest in inclusive fintech startups

At Accion Venture Lab, Dosani oversees a portfolio of three-dozen fintech ventures, most of which serve low-income customers in emerging markets. In spite of the global fintech boom, such startups still struggle to attract early capital and partners to help prove out models for the financially underserved. “Some innovative models die on the vine because they can’t get that first institutional money in the door,” Dosani says.

Venture Lab is trying to nudge in capital with its new $33 million investment vehicle, and to help professionalize inclusive fintech startups so promising models succeed. “We work on the capital gap, but our approach is also about development: helping companies create boards, think about governance structures, manage pivots and think about what the nature of growth looks like.”

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