Women Making History in Fintech

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There has never been a better or more exciting time to be a woman in fintech. That’s a bold statement, especially given that fintech has historically been a male-dominated field, but with the sector growing and the worst of the pandemic behind us, now is the time for women in fintech to shine.

According to a 2021 report from Findexable, women account for 19 percent of executives in fintech companies, 11 percent of board members, and 1.5 percent of founders, and receive just one percent of the total fintech venture funding. Of the total fintech workforce, women represent approximately 30 percent. That’s not many, and the pandemic was rough on women in the workforce across the board. The workforce lost more than a million women between February 2020 and January 2022, with most leaving  to care for their children while schools and daycares were closed. Now that things have started to open up, there are signs that women are returning to work again. For some, the office conditions have actually improved since pre-pandemic days, thanks to the wider acceptance of remote work and flexible hours.

Although there is not yet quantitative data on how women in fintech are faring in 2023, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. First, the share of women leaders has steadily improved over time, and the IMF (among other entities) has found a positive relationship between having women in leadership roles and the revenue earned by fintech firms. Moreover, fintech firms around the world reported faster growth during the pandemic, according to the Global COVID-19 Fintech Market Rapid Assessment Study, and we are seeing greater policy interest in investing in women’s digital and financial literacy. Fintech companies are well-equipped to serve groups who have previously struggled to access financial services, including women, low-income households, and small businesses.

In honor of this week’s International Women’s Day, we are thrilled to highlight some of the amazing women in the Flourish network who are doing exciting work and forging the way ahead for more inclusive, impactful projects. Here’s a look at who they are and the inspiring things they are doing.

Rising US fintechs 

In the US, female executives are playing a key role in guiding rising US fintechs into the future. Amanda Swoverland is the Chief Compliance Officer of Unit, which is building the platform to power the next generation of financial services with a simple and powerful banking-as-a-service API. Unit helps companies launch a new banking product in weeks, not years.

At Alloy, co-Founder & President Laura Spiekerman is on a mission to help banks and fintechs fight fraud while onboarding new customers, along with the company’s Head of People, Kim Nguyen. Kin Chief Insurance & Compliance Officer Angel Conlin plays a pivotal leadership role at the company, which offers easy, affordable homeowners insurance that is personalized and customized to meet people’s needs. Kate Karas is the General Counsel of Chime, which makes basic banking services helpful, easy and free, and Hummingbird, a CRM for compliance and risk teams, has female founders and women in the C-Suite, including Chief of Staff Julie Castelbaum. Over at MANTL, Meredith Finn is a key leader at the company as CFO. MANTL helps banks and credit unions open more accounts across more channels with the highest-performing origination software on the market.

Emerging Markets

At Flourish, inclusive investing is a top priority, and the firm has launched multiple initiatives to support entrepreneurs in emerging markets. We supported Rose Goslinga,  the CEO and cofounder of Pula, in 2018 and realized there was more to do.  Pula is an agricultural insurance and technology company that designs and delivers innovative agricultural insurance and digital products to help smallholder farmers endure yield risks, improve their farming practices, and bolster their incomes over time. Last year, we introduced the Madica fund, for instance, which is a pan-African investment program that aims to offer funding, technology support and mentorship to underrepresented founders across the continent.

Latin America is another key region where Flourish is working with inspiring female fintech leaders and entrepreneurs. Dinie cofounders Suzy Ferreira, CEO, and Andrea Burattini, CPO, launched the pioneering embedded lending-as-a-service model, which is defining the future of finance for small and medium businesses in Brazil. Meanwhile, Sherine Kabesh is the co-founder and CMO of HR startup Flash, which has developed a flexible benefits platform for Brazilian companies and employees.

Fábia Pires Barbosa is on the founding team at Merce, a virtual retail chain that improves small grocery stores revenue and efficiency by offering digital procurement, access to credit, inventory management and brand makeover. At Kamino—which helps Latin American startups with their international structure, so they can raise money from global funds—Juliana Simoes plays an instrumental role as the Head of Customer Success.

Heru, a startup that automates tax filing procedures for freelancers, gig workers, and small businesses in Mexico has a number of women on its leadership team: Anita Ruszcsak, Head of People & Culture; Mariana Quindós, Product marketing and growth lead; Mariana Ríos Riviello, Group Product Manager; and Alejandra Plata, Strategic Operations Manager. The same is true for Swap, a Brazil-based startup that empowers companies to transform their financial operations via its APIs, in order to expand their markets, deliver product experiences, and boost their economics. Raissa Chu is Head of People, Isadora Ruiz is the Head of Sales, and Melina Deraldo is the Head of Engineering.

At Albo, the leading Mexican challenger bank, Elisa Sahagun Fernandez is the People and Culture Manager, and Dorothée Mare is the Chief of Staff. Priscilla Daher is the Head of Purchasing at Dolado, which enables small businesses in Latin America to increase efficiency, reduce costs and sell better through a full suite of e-commerce and financial services.

India is another hotspot for women in fintech, and there are many women who are driving sector change. ZestMoney co-founders Lizzie Chapman, CEO, and Priya Sharma, CEO, have built a buy now, pay later platform that is tapping into a vast and underserved market. Founder Shruti Shruti connects buyers and brands through ApnaKlub, a B2B wholesale eCommerce shopping platform, and ShopUp, which was co-founded by COO Siffat Sarwar, has built Bangladesh’s leading full stack B2B commerce platform for small businesses. Sukarita Mukherjee is the co-Founder & CEO of Kaleidofin, and along with CFO Natasha Jethanandani, they have built an intuitive and tailored financial solution that propels customers towards meeting their real-life goals.

In Indonesia, Mapan, helmed by CEO Ardelia Apti, is a social fintech that enables users, who are primarily women, to pay for goods and services.

Fintech ecosystem 

Flourish’s vision is not only to support startups and entrepreneurs, but also to support and advance  the fintech ecosystem as a whole, and people like Jennifer Tescher, who are creating change through education, policy and regulation work. Tescher is the Founder and CEO of the Financial Health Network, which unites industries, business leaders, policymakers, innovators, and visionaries in a shared mission to improve financial health for all. At the Alliance for Innovative Regulation (AIR), cofounder and CEO Jo Ann Barefoot is dedicated to making the financial system farer and more resilient.

At the Better than Cash Alliance—a global partnership of 80 governments, companies, and International Organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to responsible digital payments—Ruth Goodwin-Groen serves as Managing Director. Then there’s Melissa Koide, the CEO and Director of FinRegLab, a nonprofit innovation center that tests new technologies and data to inform public policy and drive the financial sector toward a responsible and inclusive financial marketplace.

We’d also like to highlight ecosystem partners such as Delicia Hand, the director of financial fairness at Consumer Reports, and Sophie Sirtaien, the new CEO of CGAP, which works to make financial services meet the needs of the world’s poor. Finally, Kasia Stochniol is the Managing Director at 60 Decibels, an end-to-end impact measurement company.

These women provide just a glimpse into the bright future for fintech and the amazing things female leaders and entrepreneurs are doing around the world to build a better, fairer financial system.

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