ACCESS-ASSIST (ASSIST) was in corporated in March 2009 as a Trust at NewDelhi. ASSIST is a specialized affiliate of ACCESS Development Services for advancing Financial Inclusion in the country. Through a clutch of inter-twined interventions, ASSIST seeks to bridge the hiatus between the supply and demand sides to bring large populations of the country within the formal financial system. ASSIST operates at three levels across the financial value chain.
 
On the ground (Tier1),we work with unbanked households and micro enterprises with two approaches:
(i) Building financial capabilities through creative pedagogy-to enhance access to banking and other financial services (savings, insurance, pension, credit,digital transactions) with focus on access to government entitlements through a structured financial literacy/awareness and counselling process for community, particularly women;
(ii)Transformative finance approach to facilitate effective access to financial services, particularly enterprise credit, for higher capitalization and sustainability of microenterprises.
These are rolled out as value added interventions over existing livelihoods promotion programmes implemented by ACCESS Development Services.
 
At the institutional level (Tier2), ASSIST provides technical assistance and advisory services to MFIs, NGOs, Business Correspondents (BCs) , SHG Promoting Institutions (SHPIs), SHG federations and banks,  to strengthen their systems and policies and train their human resources in operations and financial management, including Training of Trainers (ToTs) on financial literacy and digital financial literacy. ASSIST also undertakes assessments including institutional capacity assessment, code of conduct compliance, client protection, SHPI assessments and rating of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO).
 
At the ecosystem level (Tier3), ASSIST works as aThink Tank, supporting the enabling and policy environment for advancing financial inclusion. The flagship initiative ofASSIST is the Inclusive Finance India Platform under which major initiatives to influence, inform and support policy are taken up.  Under the platform, several studies including the annual Inclusive Finance India Report, policy papers, state of practice studies and other knowledge products are published. Through the platform, several policy and thematic roundtables and retreats on topical policy priorities are organized through the year. Policy roundtables on Guidelines for Small Finance Banks and Payments Banks, Peer to Peerlending , issues in Business Correspondents, Responsible lending etc. have been organized in last 2-3 years. The largest initiative of the platform is the Inclusive Finance India Summit which is globally among the largest platforms on financial inclusion.
 
 
ASSIST operates on a pan India basis, but focuses on building local capacity in more under served regions.

ACCESS ASSIST Vision

To be the leading Gateway Agency in India to integrate the financial value chain that helps to build an inclusive financial system within which the poor are empowered and are able to access financial services to overcome their vulnerabilities.

ACCESS ASSIST Mission

To consistently work towards strengthening the enabling environment by informing and influencing policies, creating platforms and facilitating dialogue among stakeholders towards developing client centric products, processes that will help in effective organising of the demand and catalyzing supply to meet the financial needs of the poor.

Inclusive Finance India Summit platform, the annual sector publications and policy dialogues at the national and state level, ASSIST has resources and professionals to provide technical advisory to institutions on operational and management systems, along with specialization in specific thematic areas including client protection, financial literacy and community based microfinance processes. With financial literacy and inclusion projects on the ground, ASSIST draws practical experiences from the field to develop its professional strength for these sectoral roles. While on the one hand ASSIST organizes the demand through programmes on the ground, at another level, it engages with stakeholders to catalyze supply of financial services.

  • Building Institutional Capacities: The strategy largely focuses on building strong institutions on the ground, which helps in accomplishing greater outreach, but also in organizing the demand. To support these diverse institutional models, ASSIST sets up Resource centres to hand hold and engage in institutional strengthening of emerging NGO-MFIs, SHPIs (Self Help Promoting Institutions), SHG Federations, Community based cooperatives. For e.g. Project Gramya Shakti in Odisha.
  • Advisory and Support Services: ASSIST provides advisory and technical support services to key stakeholders in the sector, including to MFIs, SHPIs, donors, industry associations, apex Development Finance Institutions such as SIDBI and NABARD, Bilateral and multilateral organizations. For e.g. feasibility study for setting up of credit bureau for IFC; Costs, interest rates, and the margin of MFIs for SIDBI; Financial awareness and Counseling for the World Bank.
  • The Responsible Finance Initiative: In order to promote responsible finance and ethical financial activities, ASSIST undertakes policy research and organizes various events to promote policy dialogue between stakeholders. For e.g. Inclusive Finance India Summit; Inclusive Finance India Awards; Inclusive Finance India Report; Responsible Finance Microfinance Vision Documents; and various thematic retreats.

In 2013, ASSIST initiated a targeted programme strategy on policy advocacy and stakeholder convergence as consortium partner of SIDBI in DFID’s Poorest States Inclusive Growth (PSIG) Programme on enhancing access to finance. Further, with financial inclusion becoming a high priority of the government and rapid policy developments in the space by the RBI, in 2014, ASSIST strategically initiated the transition from focusing on the microfinance sector to the broader ambit of financial inclusion. Year 2014 was a significant milestone in ASSIST with formal expansion of its scope of work to inclusive finance.

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