In 2006, ACCESS Development Services was set up with support from DFID (Govt. of UK as a legacy institution to consolidate and build the experiences of a large well run DFID funded microfinance programme - CASHE (Credit and Savings for Household Enterprises). ACCESS was incorporated as a “not for profit” (Section 25) Co. to support the organized growth of the microfinance sector in India. Although the original mandate for ACCESS was to engage at all levels of the financial value chain and catalyze greater flow of financial services to the poor; soon after its incorporation, ACCESS realized and recognized the need to diversify its programme portfolio and accordingly expanded and diversified its programme activities to also foray into developing and devising composite livelihoods promotion strategies and programmes. Both programme strands grew at a fair clip, as ACCESS evolved.
With changes in the microfinance landscape in the country that led to focus on delivery of financial services (mainly credit) and declining interest among service providers on livelihoods/business development services to microfinance clients, there were limited synergies between the strategies of microfinance and livelihoods programme units within ACCESS. In addition, the new landscape and issues within microfinance required realignment of the microfinance programme strategies and deployment of exclusive resources and energies towards grounding them. Therefore, the microfinance programme portfolio of ACCESS was spun off in 2009 into ACCESS-ASSIST, set up as a Public Charitable Trust. The mandate of was to continue to work at all levels of the financial value chain and make efforts, on the one hand to organize the demand on the ground and on the other hand, to engage with supply side actors and catalyze greater flow of funds to the poor.