Recognising women in financial tech

Saturday March 28 2020
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In her recent article, Louise Barret, a partner at Deloitte, covered gender inequality as a challenge in the financial technology (Fintech) viewed on a global perspective.
Among the reasons cited are underrepresentation of women in Fintech and having more male founded Fintech businesses.
Following a successful second edition of the Africa Fintech Festival in Uganda last year, the Ugandan Chapter of African Women in Fintech and payments was created.
This led to women the formation of alliances of women in financial technology.
Even though the number of women is still relatively low, the critical roles which have been unapologetically taken up by women are impressive. A wealth of talented women have made significant strides in Fintech industry.
When such women synergies are built, gender inequality gap will be closed, more opportunities across the continent and the world will be realised. However, the industry will benefit only women who will obtain more skills around business development and emotional intelligence.
Here are women who are shaking and moving the Fintech sector in Uganda.

Catherine Denis, Co- founder of Numida Technologies
She is a co-founder of Numida, a Ugandan fintech start-up, providing unsecured digital loans to semi-formal micro and small businesses, via a mobile app. Gender gaps in ownership of assets, among other systemic inequalities like time-consuming gender roles, make it extra challenging for female business proprietors to access buiness capital.
Numida’s innovative unsecured credit product and remote online due diligence process addresses the traditional constraints of access to credit, that are disproportionately affecting women-owned businesses, notably collateral requirements and prolonged loan application processes. Denis firmly believes that equalising access to finance is not only critical for advancing women’s rights, but also for boosting economic development at large.

Rashmi Pillai Executive Director, Financial Sector Deepening Uganda
She has been in the Fintech industry for 15 years and has an enviable grounding in investment, social enterprise, and digital financial services.
Before joining FSD Uganda, Pillai worked with the World Bank as the digital payments lead for Uganda and Rwanda. She also served as an advisor to the Ministry of Finance Rwanda on behalf of the Better than Cash Alliance -UNCDF and supported the development and finalisation of their National Payments Systems Strategy.
She has authored multiple articles and papers on digital financial services and financial inclusion. She believes that drive, perseverance and adaptability is all it takes to thrive in any sector.
She currently works with an organisation that supports policy making and regulation of innovation in product development, design, distribution of financial services.

Primera Muthoni
As a little girl, Muthoni loved the challenge of creating new things. She grew up and became an engineer and she loves every thrill of it. She later discovered user-experience design and product management. As a marketer and an engineer, Muthoni puts her creative effort in the design and management of consumer and business products at MTN Uganda.
In her work, she remains committed to designing products and services that are simple for customers to use. She is also passionate about women, coaching and mentoring. She is an active member of Project Girls for Girls – a Harvard initiative, whose mission is to empower women to be leaders through the Kampala Leadership Hub.
She is in the final stages of completing a Master of Science degree in Technology Innovation and Industry Development from Makerere University. She also holds a postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK, where she is also a member and she holds a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Engineering from Makerere University.

Doreen Lukandwa Head Marketing and customer success, Beyonic inc
She currently works as head of marketing and customer success at Beyonic Ltd, where she drives strategy around partnership engagement, new market research, entry positioning, customer satisfaction, and capacity building, across Africa.
She boasts of more than 10 years’ experience in the financial services sector, doing product development, channel roll-out, partnership development, stakeholder engagement, project management, capacity building, and last-mile delivery. Over the years, she has acquired a deep understanding of the processes and challenges related to launching digital financial service products through multiple channels.
She has supported the pioneering development and enhancement of Mobile Money and agent distribution models. “The Tech & Fintech space is continuously evolving, keep learning. Her contribution has been extension of access to key services to the underserved across the country. This access continues to be accelerated and deepened through innovative Digital Financial Solutions.

Zianah N Muddu General Secretary, Africa Fintech Network and Engagement Partner FITSPA.
You will recall that 2020 was declared as the new decade for Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion. The United Nations is working with the African Union in highlighting the economic contribution of women in many sectors. This comes with a lot of opportunities and goodwill which we can use to our advantage to bridge the gender gap. We are looking for more women in the finance and technology sector, the demand/ opportunities for women in the sector is so high but there is little uptake.
“My goal is to contribute to building Africa’s digital economy through Fintech by connecting all bridges in the sector and unlocking doors across the continent and beyond.”
She boasts of experience spanning 15 years’ across digital finance services, mobile value-added services, government bodies, aggregator communities, startups, and investment. My wish is to transform people’s lives and to improve business performance through the use of acquired knowledge, experience, networks, and exemplary leadership.

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Eve D. Araduha, Senior manager – Client relations and IT delivery at MTN
She has been leading the integration and innovation delivery pipeline for Fintech products, among others and management of IT services ensuring efficient delivery of quality products and services for customers.
She is skilled in product development, Systems Integration, Stakeholder Management, Change and project management, mobile money products and services succh as bulk payments, bank integrations, merchant and corporate collections, savings, loans and very recently, delivery of the Mobile Money financial Service ecosystem.
To remain relevant in the industry, she says one needs to be dynamic and adapt to the changing customer needs. “You need to develop a mindset shift from the impossible to the possible. You need to think and breathe digital. Keeping abreast of the fintech playing field and its impact in your sector and knowing that innovation is imperative. Lastly you need to break out of the diversity glass ceiling and work positively towards changing the perception that women can’t win in Fintech.
“As a woman in IT, I have been exposed to delivery of technology and platforms that work as enablers for the fintech product payment integrations. The access to such innovation catalyses digital financial services, which provides a huge avenue for revenue generation with the growing adoption of mobile devices and mobile money usage among consumers.

Diana Akullu Wanyama Digital finance practioner
With commercial banking and technology experience spanning 10 years, Akullu is an expert in digital finance, product management, IT, project management and customer experience.
She is currently the manager of Contact Centre at dfcu Bank, where she is driving digital transformation in customer experience. She has spearheaded the roll out of the bank’s innovative online banking platform.
She previously held roles in the bank’s IT department and e-banking department. Prior to her role at dfcu Bank, Akullu worked with iWay Africa (AFSAT Communications Ltd)- an Internet service provider, ATX Technology – IT Solutions Company and Huawei Technologies.
She is currently the chairperson of the Digital Frontiers Association (DFA) in Uganda, which fosters collaboration among all stakeholders in the Digital Finance ecosystem. The association influences policy and product innovation that nurture better financial inclusion as a key enabler for socio- economic transformation.
Financial inclusion in this case is focusing on the underserved among various categories of the population, where a differentiator might be geographic regions, gender, income levels and socio- economic levels.
She is married with three children and prides in serving the community through voluntary work. She has also enrolled for leadership courses – Oakseed Executive leadership at the Institute of National Transformation (INT) and looks forward to becoming a toastmaster.
She is passionate about transforming the lives of people around her.

Aisha Luyima
She currently works with DPO Group in capacity of country manager. She has experience in digital channels. She hold a bachelor’s degree in management and currently pursuing an MBA in project management. She has expertise in product development, managing digital payments with both banks and fintech companies in line with risk management, strategic planning and portfolio management. “I am passionate about digital payments, financial inclusion, female empowerment and humanitarian aid.”
She spearheaded the digitisation of humanitarian aid project for refugees in Western Uganda (Nakivale Refugee Camp).
Asked what it takes to be a top-notch financial technologist, Luyima says it starts with believing in self, focusing aspirations and resilience. “Financial technology is very dynamic, it changes very often, so don’t tire of learning new concepts, unlearning what you already learnt and relearning.”
“As a manager of a leading digital payments company operating in 19 African countries, I am the financial advisor of a women’s group in Wakiso where I mentor women on financial literacy and advocate for female financial inclusion.
Many of these women started their own businesses and become financially independent. I aim to leverage my expertise in financial services to serve as a role model for young women starting out in the industry, helping them shape a career in fintech.

Princess Shamirah Kimbugwe Kiyingi Country manager, Cellulant Uganda
“The most financially excluded demography is women despite them being contributors to the economy. Women have a right to a life of dignity manifested by safe, secure and affordable digital payment solutions. This protects their income and eases the process of doing business.
My role as I work with and lead various teams is to build solutions that serve diversity, are cost-effective, accessible and easy to navigate by even the most technologically ignorant user. I also aspire to influence change in policies that affect financial inclusion, especially for women. My goal is to close the exclusion gap.”

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