As banking has progressively moved online during the past few decades, financial technology or “fintech” companies have played an important role in the growth of global finance, including reducing the cost of doing business; providing faster, more efficient financial services; and generating financial opportunities for the unbanked.
In the process, the global market size for the fintech industry has ballooned to hundreds of billions of dollars, with the expectation that it will reach $332.5 billion by the year 2028.
However, if we want it to reach its full potential, we must have more female leaders in fintech.
Women tech and finance pros possess different social skills than their male counterparts and tend to hire more diverse teams, and studies indicate that companies that have women in top management positions have a 41% higher return on equity than the average. Society-wide, McKinsey & Company reported that achieving women’s equality could add $12 trillion to global growth.
While fintech remains a male-dominated industry, there are more and more women entering leadership positions and making a true impact on the future of finance.
The Sociable took a look at 15 female fintech leaders who are innovating in the industry so you can get to know them too!
Alexia and Margot de Broglie, co-founders, Your Juno
Two sisters, Alexia, and Margot de Broglie, want every woman and non-binary person to reach financial success and say, “Wealth equals freedom. Freedom to pursue education, to leave a toxic relationship or to start a business.” Therefore, in 2020, they decided to create Your Juno, a platform that provides the best financial education in a fun way.
“Money was never a taboo at home. We were raised by a single mom who was very financially savvy and encouraged talking about finance at the dinner table,” highlight Alexia and Margot on their website. Expectedly, both of them decided to study and work in finance and economics.
As markets came crashing down during the pandemic, Alexia and Margot realized something: There was a huge difference between the conversations that they had with their male and female friends. While men were talking about crypto investments, women said nothing about investing. That was when they found out about the gender gap in financial literacy.
Your Juno has courses about different topics from investing to saving for retirement, and users can learn from financial experts. The platform has recently raised €1.96 million.
Charlene Fadirepo, founder and CEO, Guidefi
Bitcoin advocate and consultant Charlene Fadirepo is the founder and CEO of a fintech platform named Guidefi. She is on a mission to connect women of color with financial experts and help small businesses and non-profit organizations adopt cryptocurrencies.
Charlene graduated from the University of Virginia with an Electrical Engineering degree and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She has served as a blockchain and cryptocurrency technical advisor for Georgian College in Ontario, Canada.
Educating her community is one of the main objectives of Charlene’s business. She has written children’s books about money — “Ayo’s Money Jar” and “Ayo’s Had Enough” — to help drive conversations about money within the communities of color.
Charlene is also the co-host and creator of the Bitcoin In Nigeria Podcast, a monthly podcast covering topics such as the Bitcoin revolution.
Besides her adult audience, she also connects with young members of her community. She published a book called “Sade’s Satoshis” to help children learn about Bitcoin investing.
Ksenia Yudina, founder and CEO, UNest
Another strong female leader in the fintech space is Ksenia Yudina, the founder and CEO of UNest, a financial app to help you save money for your child’s future.
She is a financial expert and entrepreneur with over a decade of experience and has an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management and CFA Charter. Ksenia believes that accessibility of financial advice is key to solving the student debt problem in the U.S. Therefore, she built UNest for parents who care about the success of their children and want to give them a financial head start.
Anyone with a cell phone can start their journey on the platform within minutes without having to deal with paperwork. UNest eliminates the complexity and limitations of legacy 529 and custodial (UTMA) products.
The entrepreneur definitely has a golden touch for fintech success. Ksenia received a Rising Star Award from the Los Angeles Business Journal and was recognized as 40 Under 40 by Investment News.
Moreover. she has been featured in top-tier publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, New York Times, and TechCrunch.
Ximena Aleman, co-founder and co-CEO, Prometeo
Ximena Aleman is co-CEO and co-founder of Prometeo, one of the largest open banking platforms in Latin America (LATAM).
Aiming to create an open and connected financial market in LATAM, Prometeo provides a single point of access to 101 bank connections in ten countries in the region.
Ximena’s success journey started after inheriting only $100 from her grandmother, which allowed her to pay her tuition fee to study at Universidad ORT in Uruguay. Thanks to her outstanding academic performance, she managed to get a scholarship for an MBA program.
Before founding Prometeo, Ximena advised companies on communications and marketing strategies. She was director of digital content at EME, a creative content hub for LATAM newspapers, worked for leading media organizations in Uruguay, and was marketing head at Dentons Uruguay.
In February, her success was recognized by the Association of MBAs – the organization named her “Entrepreneur of the Year.” She is also a WeFinTech Ambassador and a specialist in B2B sales.
Nina Mohanty, founder and CEO, Bloom Money
A recipient of the Tech Women 100 award Nina Mohanty is the founder and CEO of Bloom Money, a London-based fair credit provider to migrants and refugees helping them to build healthy financial lives.
Bloom Money is an app built to help people manage their money in a simple, transparent way. Regardless of where they come from in the world, everyone deserves to live a prosperous life. And Bloom Money ensures that its customers have the necessary tools to improve their financial situation and pass the seeds of prosperity to their loved ones and communities.
Nina also sits on the Steering Committee of the Joint Refugee Action Network, and previously worked in various fintech firms such as Klarna, Bud, and Starling Bank.
She trusts in the potential of fintech for better financial inclusion and literacy. Even in her free time, she dedicates herself to women’s empowerment and children’s education.
Ana Barrera, co-founder and CEO, Aflore
Financial institutions have not been able to serve Colombia’s unbanked population adequately. Therefore, in 2013, Ana Barrera decided to make a change, and her solution was Aflore.
Since then, Aflore has given access to financial products to the underbanked and created opportunities for households and businesses. In order to achieve that, the company recruits trusted advisors within the middle-income communities and provides them with training, loans and insurance, and digital tools.
Ana started her career in Colombia, trading coffee and managing risk at the Federation of Coffee Growers. Ana holds an MBA from London Business School and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Universidad de Los Andes.
She spent eight years in London working for Lehman Brothers and Nomura, structuring financial products for institutional clients.
After that, she became the director of the Housing for All project at Ashoka, where she closely worked with corporations and social entrepreneurs to design housing solutions for the “bottom of the pyramid.”
Susanne Chishti, CEO, FinTech Circle
Susanne Chishti’s experience and thought leadership have definitely made her one of the most successful female leaders in the fintech space.
This award-winning entrepreneur and investor is also the CEO of FinTech Circle, a global platform of over 216,000 fintech entrepreneurs, investors, and finance professionals.
Working for a fintech company in Silicon Valley was just the beginning of her successful career.
After that, Susanne worked for well-known companies such as Morgan Stanley, Accenture in London and Hong Kong, as well as Deutsche Bank.
Susanne has extensive writing experience as well: She is the co-editor of the bestselling “The FINTECH Book,” which has been translated into 10 languages and is sold across 107 countries; “The WealthTECH Book;” and “The InsurTECH Book.”
On top of everything, she has also been a fintech TV Commentator on CNBC.
Sheena Allen, founder and CEO, CapWay
While growing up in Mississippi, Sheena Allen witnessed the problems of financially underserved citizens in the state.
Her background and experience have made her uniquely qualified to understand the pain points of underbanked populations and make a positive impact on their lives.
In 2016, she founded CapWay, a mobile bank and financial technology company that focuses on those who lack fair opportunity and access to mainstream financial services and the cashless economy.
CapWay wasn’t her first startup, though.
Sheena designed her first app company, Sheena Allen Apps, with no technical background in 2011 while she was still in college. Although she started her startup from scratch, she managed to secure millions of downloads. Later, she released her first book, “The Starting Guide,” about her experience in tech, business, and being a non-technical founder.
Sheena was also featured in “She Started It,” a documentary film that follows five women around on their startup journey in 2016.
It is important to note that she is also a known public speaker and has participated in the Forbes Under 30 Summit, TEDx San Francisco, lectures at Yale University, The Lean Startup Conference, and AfroTech, among others.
Nicky Swartz, Founder, Spoon Money
Aiming to support females in low-income markets, Nicky Swartz founded Spoon Money, a company that provides credit to women who make their living selling goods and services as street vendors.
Spoon Money runs a stokvel investment model, which is a financing method that allows members to make credit applications as a group.
Since 2017, the company has financed thousands of women seeking credit facilities or joining its savings scheme. Nicky is a firm believer that Spoon is a game-changing tool for low-income women.
Nicky’s determination and dedication has not only helped her with her professional career but also her academic life: She has a first-class honors degree in digital technology from the Dublin Institute of Technology.
Before creating Spoon Money, she worked in the corporate world, where she became the marketing executive of a financial services company.
Andrea Fernandez, co-founder, Vitamin
The co-founder of Vitamin, Andrea Fernandez, is armed with experience in finance, asset management, venture capital, and consumer marketing. And she is on a mission to fix the problems of the male-dominated financial industry that has failed to understand women’s needs.
Vitamin has a clear purpose – changing mindsets, having conversations, and supporting every woman in building her financial confidence.
The company helps women see if their own money is working for them and their financial future. Let’s not forget that Vitamin raised a total of €1.7 million in a second pre-seed round of funding in 2021.
Andrea once said, “Surveys have shown that more women would start investing if they found investing easier. We want to help them build that financial confidence without having to jump right into the deep end.”
In order to achieve this goal, Andrea and her team also developed a feature called Discovery Mode that enables users to experience investing without losing any real money. This way, women can feel more confident and start investing safely.
Alla Zhedik, CEO, TEMPO France – Money Transfer
Skilled in portfolio management, budgeting, and business development, Alla Zhedik is the CEO of TEMPO France – Money Transfer. This fast and secure online money transfer provider aims to make cross-border payments accessible to everyone.
In order to solve the problems of traditional international payment methods, TEMPO leverages blockchain technology.
The startup provides payment services for businesses worldwide and stands for the complete transparency of all operations, the immutability of records, high transaction speeds, and very competitive commission rates.
Being a CEO can be a real challenge for many people, but for Alla, this is not the case. Being responsible for TEMPO’s success, operations, finance, marketing, and legal compliance while balancing the needs of employees, customers, and investors is extremely exciting and inspiring.
Her interest in finance began in her first year of accounting when she realized that behind the income statement was hidden the whole real situation of the company.
Alla has been in the industry for 20 years, and she truly believes that she made the right choice to build her career in finance.
Raiha Buchanan, CEO, Gigapay
Raiha Buchanan is another prime example of a successful female fintech leader. She is the CEO and co-founder of Gigapay, an excellent tool for freelancers and companies to quickly and easily pay and get paid in the gig economy without extra administrative work.
She has 15 years of international commercial experience, including 10 years specializing in fintech.
Throughout her career, she has held multiple senior positions: She was the CMO of Instantor AB, global head of digital at Bambora, and marketing director at iZettle (Acquired by Paypal for $2.2 billion).
Raiha is passionate about finance and technology and excited about how these two industries can change the future of work.
She also founded WIFTN, a non-profit network for women in fintech, to help close the gender gap in the industry. Even in her spare time, she mentors women who are interested in breaking into the fintech space.
Julia Profeta Johansson, co-founder, and co-CEO, Ella Impact
The Brazilian entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and impact investor Julia Profeta Johansson wants to accelerate how business, investments, and technology generate social and environmental impact.
Julia focuses on innovation and new paradigms. Her expertise ranges from strategy, business development, sales, and marketing, as well as financial structuring to new ventures.
Furthermore, she writes about gender diversity.
She founded a female impact network called Ella Impact. The platform offers both online and offline content and discussions to help women start their learning journey of impact.
Prior to Ella Impact, she was the co-founder and co-CEO of Remagine, the first impact-driven B2B neobank, and a partner at Vox Capital, the first impact investing fund in Brazil.
Suzy Ferreira, founder and CEO, Dinie
Based in Brazil, Suzy Ferreira has set a clear purpose – enabling billions of humans to find prosperity through access to financial services and education.
She is the CEO and founder of Dinie, an API-first embedded finance platform.
“Dinie’s vision is to enable large ecosystems such as eCommerce marketplaces to potentially become the ‘bank branch’ of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), where financial products are fully distributed and contextual and integrated with MSMEs specific business journeys,” said Suzy.
Although Dinie is still a young company, launched a few months before the pandemic, it has managed to partner up with big platforms such as iFood, Elo7, and Local, an Uruguayan payment unicorn. And what’s more: Dinie secured $3.8 million in the seed round last year.
Shagun Malhotra, CEO, SkyStem
Certified public accountant, certified internal auditor, and process consultant Shagun Malhotra is the CEO of SkyStem, who designed ART, a software for the month-end close and account reconciliations, for accountants.
The story of ART started in 2009 when a publicly-traded global financial services company faced serious compliance concerns from the auditors.
It was discovered that the balance sheet was off by over $4 billion. Thousands of general ledger accounts were not reconciled regularly, some were never reconciled, and supporting documents were scattered among employee emails, paper binders and shared drives, leading to financial reporting chaos. Shagun knew that there was a more efficient and user-friendly way to do this.
It is through this experience that SkyStem’s ART was born.
Shagun started her career in public accounting and has worked in Fortune 100 companies such as Marriott and Freddie Mac. She has been a speaker for Fast Trac – a Kauffman Foundation program and is very passionate about entrepreneurship.
Disclosure: This article mentions clients of an Espacio portfolio company.