New program to develop and improve management capabilities of local microfinance industry

Accion, with the support of the MetLife Foundation and in partnership with the Chinese Association of Microfinance (CAM), announced today the launch of its International Microfinance Management and Leadership Program. The new program aims to develop management and leadership capacity in microfinance in China. Through this program, Accion plans to extend the reach and quality of financial services and products to underserved entrepreneurs and communities throughout the country. The program’s multiple classes will impact more than 1 million microfinance institution (MFI) clients.

“Across China, nearly half a billion people do not have access to a safe place to save, the chance to borrow and build their credit, or insure themselves and their families,” said Accion CEO and President, Michael Schlein. “By training local MFI senior managers in the best ways to address day-to-day issues, we can create a stronger industry that can better extend financial services to more people.”

“MetLife Foundation is committed to advancing financial inclusion, and the need for quality financial services across China remains very high. By partnering with Accion and CAM to train local managers in core business skills, MetLife Foundation is working strategically to bring financial services to the people who need them most,” said George Tan, CEO, Sino-US United MetLife Insurance Company Limited.

The International Microfinance Management and Leadership Program is the first holistic, systematic microfinance training and capacity building initiative in the market that addresses key growth issues that many MFIs – and their leadership teams – routinely face. Participants will develop their leadership and management skills and develop sound technical knowledge in microfinance operations and human capital management. Over the course of the nine-month program, participants will attend in-classroom lectures, monthly webinars, and participate in a field visit to an MFI that exemplifies many industry-leading best practices needed to manage operations responsibly and effectively. This blended approach – combining classroom and experiential learning – will help participants retain information for longer, strengthen core skills, and promote practical application of the lessons they learn.

The International Microfinance Management and Leadership Program’s first class includes 35 participants from 13 MFIs. However, the impact of the program is much farther reaching: the partners estimate that the first class’s participating MFIs collectively represent 900,000 clients and 33,000 additional staff, who all stand to benefit from what management learns over the course of the program.

“We’re delighted to partner with Accion to share best practices with the managers of local MFIs in order to provide better services for their clients,” said CAM Chairman, Du Xiaoshan. “This program will provide MFI managers with the skills they need to create and expand a vital aspect of financial inclusion in China.”

China has a pronounced need for interventions just like this, which will increase access to high-quality microfinance services. Despite the widespread need for – and growth of – MFIs in China, most organizations have yet to reach scale. One of the causes preventing MFIs’ growth is the day-to-day business challenges that management teams may not yet be familiar with. The International Microfinance Management and Leadership Program will help cultivate a stronger and better-managed industry in China, where one third of the population, equivalent to approximately 500 million people, has no way to save their money safely, take out a loan, or insure themselves or their families.

Key Figures:

  • 488 million people in China – or 36% of its population – lack access to formal financial services
  • New capacity-building program will share industry-leading best practices with at least 75 MFI managers representing 15 MFIs over two back-to-back program cycles
  • First class of the program will benefit an estimated 900,000 MFI clients and 33,000 MFI staff

About Metlife Foundation 
MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2013, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $700 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit