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5 innovative women-led FinTechs making waves in emerging markets

By Edlyn Cardoza

March 08, 2022

  • Africa
  • AZA
  • Chioma Ruky Okotcha

International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated annually on 8th March, is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate notable achievements of women and raise awareness about gender equality. Additionally, IWD also champions women’s economic, social, political, and cultural parity.

According to a recent study focusing on the FinTech space, only 12% of global FinTech Founders and Co-Founders are women. While these numbers are alarmingly low, many talented women make waves in the FinTech arena.

Giving special attention to emerging countries, recent years have seen several women entrepreneurs embarking on FinTech ventures constantly creating innovation in the space across verticals, from lending and payments to stock markets and microfinance. These entrepreneurs are paving the way for more women moguls in the segment as well as a more accessible and inclusive industry.

Take a look at 5 noteworthy women-led FinTechs making an impact in emerging markets:

  • AZA – Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO & Founder
Elizabeth Rossiello
Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO & Founder, AZA

Elizabeth is the CEO and founder of AZA, an established provider of currency trading solutions that accelerate global access to frontier markets through an innovative infrastructure. AZA is a leading provider of cross-border payment solutions for businesses. By leveraging cutting edge technology in their flagship products, TransferZero and BFX, AZA can significantly lower the cost and increase the speed of business payments to and from frontier markets. AZA is now a market-maker in every primary African currency and directly facilitates payments into G20 currencies.

Elizabeth expanded the company from Nairobi, Kenya, to operations in 8 markets across Africa and Europe. Before founding AZA, Elizabeth was a rating analyst for microfinance institutions across sub-Saharan Africa, consulting for Grameen Foundation, Gates Foundation, and the Acumen Fund and working with regulators and policymakers on legislation for financial innovations. Elizabeth sits on the Investment Committee for Bamboo Capital and the World Economic Forum’s Future Council on Blockchain.

  • PayHippo – Chioma Ruky Okotcha, Co-Founder

    Chioma Ruky Okotcha, women
    Chioma Ruky Okotcha, Co-Founder, PayHippo

PayHippo’s mission is to serve the 40 million SMEs unable to access the funds necessary to grow their business for a more financially equitable Africa.

PayHippo strives to continuously improve their products & services to not only meet the changing needs of their clients, but to also impact Africans. PayHippo’s decisions and product directions are based on empirical data around market needs. However, they understand that they are building for people’s needs.

Chioma previously worked as a Consultant at Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, where she supported partnerships at the Nigeria CDC during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Pezesha – Hilda Moraa, CEO and Founder

    Hilda Moraa, CEO & Founder, Pezesha

Hilda Moraa is an award-winning innovator and author. She has more than 10 years of experience in FinTech, regulation, developing innovations, entrepreneurship and working with multinationals such as Coca-Cola to develop mobility innovations for Africa. She previously founded WezaTele, a FinTech startup in Kenya acquired in 2015. She is currently the Founder & CEO of Pezesha.

Pezesha has created a holistic digital financial infrastructure that is on a mission to the leading enabler platform and marketplace that connects small and medium-sized businesses to working capital through a collaborative approach where banks, MFIs and other financial institutions or networks can connect on our platform to be matched with quality SMEs driving meaningful financial inclusion and reducing any inequalities on access to formal financial services.

Hilda was featured as one of the top 40 under 40 women and Quartz Africa as the top 30 innovators in Africa in 2018. She has continued to champion the local tech, innovation & entrepreneurship scene in Kenya by supporting and mentoring other young techpreneurs through sharing her lessons, entrepreneurial knowledge and experiences in inspiring ways. She was also a keynote speaker at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015. And in 2019, she was among the few selected to be part of the Obama Leaders Program.

  • Piggyvest – Odun Eweniyi Co-Founder and CO

    Odun Eweniyi
    Odun Eweniyi, Co-Founder & COO, Piggyvest

Piggyvest is a platform that helps individuals and businesses manage their finances effectively, save and invest with ease. As, they operate in partnership with two Microfinance banks and used their licenses, in early 2018, they acquired Gold Microfinance bank and its license. They are also a registered cooperative- Piggytech Cooperative Multipurpose Society Limited (Registration number, 16555).

All saved funds are now warehoused with and managed by AIICO Capital, Nigeria’s leading asset management company, registered and licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Odunayo graduated from Covenant University in 2013 with a first-class degree in Computer Engineering. Odun started out to launch Push CV with Somto Ifezue and Joshua Chibueze after her graduation in 2013. Two years later, the trio went on to start PiggyVest in 2016.

  • Tala – Shivani Siroya, CEO & Founder

    Shivani Siroya, women
    Shivani Siroya, CEO & Founder, Tala

Shivani Siroya is the Founder and CEO of Tala, a leading financial technology company focusing on emerging markets. Tala is on a mission to build a financial system that works for everyone. Their first product is a lending app that instantly underwrites and delivers credit to customers with little or no formal borrowing history. Millions of people have borrowed through Tala’s smartphone app, which provides instant, personalised credit to underserved customers in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Tala is backed by leading venture and impact investors, including PayPal, Revolution, IVP, Ribbit Capital, Data Collective, and Lowercase Capital.

Prior to founding Tala, Shivani held various positions in global health, microfinance, and investment banking, including with the United Nations Population Fund, Health Net, Citigroup, and UBS. Shivani is an Aspen Institute Finance Leader Fellow, a WEF Young Global Leader, Senior TED Fellow, and Ashoka Fellow. She is also on the board of Stellar.

ALSO READ: Global FinTech Use Cases Report 2021

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