Exploring FinTech Startups: Of, By & For Women

May 2, 2019

MONTHLY ANALYSIS

Last week in the office, we were having a conversation about FinTech startups these days, and it evolved into an impassioned discussion. What was the discussion about? To put it simply, women in FinTech. To get more specific, we started talking about FinTech startups founded by women that are engaged in some really interesting areas within the field.

It led us to a question that many had wanted to ask, but few amongst us had explored before: what is the importance of FinTech of, by and for women? Do startups by women (and that are focused on serving women) make a significant impact on the FinTech landscape and ecosystem?

We realized that FinTech is one of the few domains today that brings together two traditionally male-dominated fields – finance and technology. Delving a little deeper, we noticed that the sector had seen an increasing number of women making inroads into FinTech, innovating to create a bouquet of products and services that improve the lives of women and men alike

Globally speaking, things could be looking up – according to Liselotte Lyngsø, Founding Partner of Copenhagen-based consultancy Future Navigator, the representation of women in the workforce is set to gradually increase from the current 46% to gender parity in the 2030s as well as a 53% share of employment in the 22nd century. Entirely plausible, considering that the past decade has seen an increasing number of women working in FinTech as well as benefiting from its many innovations.

Research backs this up – according to an estimate by The McKinsey Global Institute, holistically incorporating women into the economy would add $12 trillion to the global GDP by 2025. What this means is, actively realizing gender equality has the potential to uplift all nations.

To answer the question we thought to ourselves earlier – women innovating in FinTech does have high importance to our present as well as our collective future. Why? Here are some reasons we feel this way:

FinTech Of, By & For Women: Why is it important?

To Understand the Market Better

Data indicates that women drive 70-80% of consumer purchases. A company, to achieve success, must understand its customers well. Leaving women out of the equation, one fails to take into account up to half the target market. It’s less about parity for the sake of it and more about smart business decisions. Women in FinTech are ideally suited to have a better understanding of women as a demographic and this, in turn, makes good business sense.

To Boost Productivity & Results

Multiple studies have shown, more diversity in a company’s team tends to produce more effective business outcomes. How?

According to Aline Vedder, Director of Communications at Acton Capital Partners, A diverse body of talent reflects a FinTech’s customer base, which helps drive successful results.

Furthermore, diversity brings a lot to the table, when it comes to FinTech companies, enabling them to leverage better opportunities by bringing in a broader perspective on facing challenges.

For a Different Approach to Risk

Women tend to approach risk in a different way than men usually do. It’s about bringing in a unique set of perspectives that are often rooted in an understanding that stems from empathy. It’s a fact that in finance, success is contingent on effectively identifying, analyzing, and mitigating risks. Bringing in a different approach here has the potential to help in the development of superior systems, which provides an advantage to companies doing this, as they’d be able to gain newer insights into what customers want and need, balancing it with risk appetite, and capacity.

Engrossed in this subject, we decided to dig a little deeper and came up with a list of eight fascinating startups founded by women – for women – that are focused on creating a better world through their innovative offerings.\

FemTech: 8 Interesting FinTech Startups by Women

1. FinMarie

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Founded by: **Karolina Decker\ Founded in: 2017\ Location: Germany\ Funding: **N/A\ \ **FinMarie is a first-of-its-kind financial services & wealth management company for women in Germany.\ \ **FinMarie was among the first online financial platforms for women. The firm supports clients with financial and wealth management projects and helps them find solutions appropriate for their situations.

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The FinMarie portfolio is comprised of global diversified mixed ETFs so that the ETFs correspond to the needs and goals of women. A FinMarie portfolio is available at the individual goal level and adjusts its allocation or target income based on the individual’s situation and time horizon.

2. Cherehani Africa

exploring-fintech-startups-of-by-for-women-3.png\ \ Founded by: **Nasreen Ali (Co-Founder & CFO), Robert Mboya (Co-Founder & COO) and Wesley Owiti (Co-Founder & CEO)\ Founded in: 2015\ Location: Africa\ Funding: $440,000\ \ **Cherehani Africa uses a mobile platform to create financial literacy among women of all ages.\ \ **Based in Africa, **the company leverages mobile-based technology to provide credit and distribute personalized financial literacy content to women and adolescent girls who own micro-enterprises.

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Their customers are members of locally registered groups of 10–25 members based on their business type.

3. Miss Kaya

exploring-fintech-startups-of-by-for-women-5.png\ \ Founded by: **Gina Heng\ Founded in: 2016\ Location: Singapore\ Funding: Unfunded\ \ Miss Kaya is a wealth advisory platform that helps women gain financial independence & live a better lifestyle.\ \ **Miss Kaya is a financial advisory & wealth management platform that focuses on women. The platform allows women to receive guidance on their saving and budgeting, and then invest in particular portfolios depending on the risk assessment.

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The company also offers e-wallet and budgeting tools. Its platform takes into consideration the risk involved, target and budget to provide the user with an appropriate assessment.

4. Empowered Bookkeeping

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Founded by: **Lili Rahmati (Founder & President)\ Founded in: 2009\ Location: California, USA\ Funding: **Unfunded

Empowered Bookkeeping creates financial literacy among women: accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, and more.

Empowered Bookkeeping provides accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, contract controlling, tax management, and coaching services for women into freelancing, small businesses, and startups.​

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The company provides hands-on expertise and guidance to individual women and woman-owned small businesses to master their finances.

5. Ellevest

exploring-fintech-startups-of-by-for-women-9.png\ \ Founded by: **Charlie Kroll & Sallie Krawcheck\ Founded in: 2014\ **Location: **New York, USA\ Funding: **$77 million\ \ **Ellevest’s digital platform empowers women by offering low-cost investing options.\ \ About: **Ellevest helps women achieve their financial goals through modern, low-cost investing, with a beautifully designed digital platform backed by a unique investing approach. From a gender-smart investing algorithm for digital-only customers to bespoke portfolios for private wealth clients, Ellevest also provides the option to invest for impact, and in other women’s projects as well.

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It received $33 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, PayPal, and other investors in March 2019.

6. MamaMoni

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Founded by: **Okocha Nkem\ **Founded in: **2015\ Location: Nigeria\ Funding: **One round of non-equity assistance

MamaMoni is a FinTech social enterprise that empowers low-income women in Africa by providing instant loans over mobile devices.

MamaMoni is a FinTech social enterprise that empowers low-income rural and urban slum women in Africa with instant mobile loans. It serves over 6,000 women.

Mamamoni enables the banked, underbanked, and unbanked (woman or enterprise) to access banking services and loans. It is also a branchless banking business, which means that its services are designed so that women can generally conduct transactions without the need to visit bank branches, but just by using their mobile phones. It lets them receive payments for goods and services through their mobile phones.

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The women are trained in a vocational skill, registered for mobile money, and taught how to use their mobile phones to accept and make payments. They are further trained on how to manage and grow their business (if they have one) and are given a loan to fund the business. The company claims to achieve a loan pay-back rate of 99%.

7. iFundWomen

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Founded by: **Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO\ Founded in: 2016\ Location: New York\ Funding: **$1.8 million in seed

iFundWomen is a crowdfunding platform for women-led startups.

iFundWomen drives funding to startups and small businesses through a flexible crowdfunding platform.

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It has a pay-it-forward model, expert startup coaching, professional video production, and a private community for entrepreneurs to talk openly about challenges and wins. The platform was named in Nasdaq’s ‘10 Best Sources of Funding for Women Entrepreneurs.’

8. Basis

exploring-fintech-startups-of-by-for-women-15.png\ \ Founded by: **Hena Mehta, Founder & CEO **\ Founded in: 2018\ Location: **Bengaluru, India\ Funding: Undisclosed seed funding\ \ **Basis is an Indian personal finance startup that helps women invest wisely.\ **\ **About: **Basis is **an online, women-focused personal finance startup. The startup was established based on the premise that only 3% of Indians invest in the stock market, and almost all of them are men. Basis focuses on transforming financial education and financial decision-making for Indian women.

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The startup received India’s Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) license from SEBI in February 2019 and launched a content platform on the web and its Android app (beta) early this year. So far, its beta app has had 200 downloads. Basis targets women in Tier 1 cities, in the age group of 28–40 years. This year, the company plans to onboard 28–30K customers to its platform.

Funds Focusing on Women in FinTech

Who supports such startups, like the ones we’ve written about here? In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of some prominent funds focused on funding ventures by women in FinTech globally. Taking a global view, as of 2019, UNCDF – in collaboration with UNESCAP – is launching an Innovation Fund on digital solutions for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in Asia-Pacific. The Innovation Fund seeks to co-fund companies to pilot innovative digital and financial solutions that improve access to finance and enhance the operational efficiency of women-led MSMEs.

Its goal is to co-fund and provide technical support for companies to pilot innovative digital solutions and/or digital financial solutions, which support women-owned, managed and/or led MSMEs. Successful applications will receive:

  • From $25,000 up to $50,000 of co-funding

  • Technical assistance

  • Mentoring

  • Connections to investors

An applicant can be based anywhere globally, but the project must target women-owned/managed/led MSMEs in one or more of the target countries. The target countries include Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, and Vietnam.

Another interesting fund to look, in this context, is X-Factor Ventures. Based in Boston, USA, the company focuses on making pre-seed and seed-stage investments in companies that have at least one female founder. Out of the $3-million fund, the company has made 18 investments till date. The fund offers the following benefits to successful applicants:

  • $100,000 one-time investment

  • Unique insights into markets

  • Deep connections in the startup ecosystem to provide guidance and mentorship

  • Advice and contacts from founders who have raised capital and built companies to scale that want to help other female founders win in their markets

  • Introductions and guidance when seeking future rounds of funding

There are other funds which are similar (we’ll do a deep dive into this in another article) that focus on female entrepreneurs and disburse funds to ventures run by women. Makes sense, considering that according to research by Frost & Sullivan, the female economy is projected to be bigger than the economies of the United States and even China by 2020. Just last year, in 2018, the global income of women was estimated to be worth $18 trillion – almost equal in measure to the US GDP, which stood at $19.4 trillion in 2017.

Given these numbers and the proliferation of women-led startups in FinTech we’re witnessing lately, we believe that a more gender-equitable future – one we’ve all hoped for – is on the horizon.

That was our perspective; we’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you know of other women-led FinTech startups that are doing some good work in the sector? What do you think about the importance of FinTechs that are of, by and for women? Do write to us, and let us know.

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