HBS-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance

HBS-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance

Shaping the next generation of inclusive finance leaders


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The Harvard Business School (HBS)-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance is the first executive education program of its kind to provide high-level management and leadership training to those shaping the microfinance industry, including CEOs of leading microfinance institutions and executives of mainstream banks entering the microfinance market.

*Note: This program is now managed by Accion. Please visit Accion’s program page for the most up-to-date information.*

The intensive six-day program offers leaders from around the world an exceptional opportunity to connect with peers and engage with some of the HBS faculty’s foremost thinkers in business strategy and management. The HBS Executive Education learning model immerses the world’s most promising leaders in a transformational experience that marries the best of strategic thinking with the most important advances in financial inclusion and impact investing.


Given the increased interest of mainstream financial institutions and others in reaching customers at the base of the pyramid, the course begins with an intensive survey of the microfinance industry and the operations of its leading institutions, provided by HBS faculty and experienced Accion practitioners. The program also addresses key strategic issues arising out of the dual goals of economic and social value creation that have defined the industry, including:

  • How new business models in this space—especially technology-enhanced models—succeed or flounder
  • How to successfully compete in highly competitive markets
  • How to balance one’s social mission with financial considerations
  • How to stay abreast of rapidly evolving products and delivery channels

Participants will learn primarily through the case study approach as pioneered by HBS. Through these guided case discussions, participants work collaboratively to identify practical business strategies from the experiences of leading institutions and apply these lessons learned to their own institutions following the end of the Program. Decision makers from the case studies often join participants in the classroom—either on site or via video link—to engage in live dialogue and dive deeper into key concepts.

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ABF Fellows attending the HBS-Accion Program on Strategic Leadership in Inclusive Finance
My experience at HBS is unforgettable. This training provides an opportunity to detach from everyday work and reflect on some of the ‘macro’ issues related to ‘micro’ finance. Having the opportunity to discuss and analyze challenging aspects of the industry amongst a sophisticated group of practitioners and qualified lecturers has allowed me to bring back fresh thoughts on how best to address challenges my organization is facing in its complex environment.
Ranya Abdel Baki, Executive Director, Sanabel Network Egypt

Eligibility and Benefits

Who Should Apply and Why

The program provides a dedicated platform to learn from distinguished faculty and connect with like-minded peers from around the world at Harvard University's Cambridge campus.

Program benefits include:

  • A platform for financial inclusion leaders within financial services companies, government agencies, support organizations, and knowledge institutions to discuss, share ideas, and gain new expertise
  • An intensive six days of learning using the world-renowned HBS case study methodology, learning from and analyzing the decisions of financial inclusion leaders at critical moments
  • Access to distinguished HBS faculty and subject-matter experts in business strategy and management
  • The opportunity to expand your network and to connect with like-minded peers from around the world facing similar issues and to learn from their experiences

Who Should Apply

  • MFI and financial institution executives and managers
  • Impact investors
  • Fintech entreprenuers
  • Policymakers and regulators
  • MNO and telecommunications providers
  • International development/financial inclusion practitioners

Why You Should Apply

  • Bolster your strategic thinking about serving clients at the base of the pyramid by analyzing real-life cases
  • Re-evaluate your role and the role of your organization in the financial inclusion space
  • Deepen and expand your knowledge of business strategy and management alongside like-minded peers and the foremost thinkers in the field
  • Raise the caliber of your leadership skills
The blend of industry players provided a platform for cross fertilization of ideas and enriching experience. The diversity of participants across continents was a great asset and opportunity. Indeed the environment at HBS was conducive for learning and for sure through the executive training and experience sharing, we will change the world.
Jackson Obare Marwanga, Head of Programs/Consultancy, K-Rep Development Agency

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