Investing in Women’s ventures. Accelerate Progress

This year's Women's Day theme, #InvestInWomen #AccelerateProgress, rings true not just for celebrating women's achievements, but also for putting real capital behind their ventures. Ms. Catherine Denis exemplifies this spirit perfectly. Her impressive career trajectory, spanning international development and fintech,  showcases a deep commitment to empowering others.

Co-founding Numida Technologies, a Ugandan fintech startup, wasn't just a career move – it was a mission for Catherine. Numida empowers women by providing unsecured growth capital to semi-formal small businesses.This focus on financial inclusion, particularly for women entrepreneurs, reflects Ms. Catherine's unwavering dedication to making a difference.

With over 48% of Numida's Ugandan customer base being women, Ms. Catherine's commitment to tailoring loan requirements to their specific needs is evident. It's a testament to her vision and leadership.

Recognizing her vital role in shaping the future of fintech and advocating for women's economic empowerment, we had the privilege of interviewing Catherine Denis.  Here, she shares her insights on the transformative power of fintech and the importance of investing in women-led businesses.

Investment and Empowerment:

  • What initiatives or policies do you believe are crucial to attract more investment in women-led fintech businesses?

    One effective initiative is to deliberately give women fintech entrepreneurs a voice, at every opportunity, in spaces where the fintech community congregates. In practice, this means ensuring that women are represented in speaker line-ups at conferences, in panels, in news stories, and in the leadership of industry associations. Bringing attention to the success stories of women-led fintech businesses will help to attract more investment to the next generation of women-led fintechs. 

  • How can established players in the fintech space actively support and empower women entrepreneurs?

    One of the most powerful ways for established players to support and empower up and coming women entrepreneurs is to actively engage and include them in industry events, to connect them with their vast networks, and to provide them with advice and mentorship. 

  • What advice would you give to aspiring women looking to break into the fintech industry?

    I would advise women aspiring to launch a fintech business to find one or two solid co-founders, and to invest some energy in building a community of fellow entrepreneurs with whom to share the journey. The companionship and empathy of fellow entrepreneurs is priceless in and of itself, but the opportunity to benefit from the hard-earned lessons of other entrepreneurs can help you to move faster and to avoid important pitfalls. 

Personal Inspiration and Vision:

  • What qualities do you believe are essential for success in the ever-evolving fintech landscape?

    The obstacles and challenges, both internal and external, are never-ending in the life of a fintech entrepreneur - I like to joke that it's like playing a game of whack-a-mole. In that context, I think that adaptability, resilience, and optimism are essential for success.

  • What personal values or principles guide your work and decision-making processes?

    My guiding principles are quite simple, and have been institutionalized among the official values of Numida. It includes doing the right thing and putting the client first. Another important one is to use data and evidence wherever possible in decision-making, which connects closely with the idea of experimentation: before rolling out very impactful features or changes across our client base, we first run small tests and use the results to guide our next steps. 

    Call to Action:

  • How can individuals and organizations contribute to accelerating progress towards gender equality in the fintech space?

    One of the easiest ways is to create gender-inclusive policies that make your fintech a great place for women to work: clear criteria for professional advancement and compensation structures that level the playing field for women, flexible work schedules to accommodate working parents, recruitment processes that don't disadvantage women (for instance always having at least one woman on an interview panel), sexual harassment policies, etc. Recruiting, retaining, and promoting women to leadership positions within fintech companies will greatly contribute to gender equality in the space. 

  • Share a quote or piece of advice that inspires you and keeps you motivated on your journey.

    I love this particular Steve Jobs quote: “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” I was a bit naive when I co-founded Numida - I never thought that it would take this long to get to where we are today. So this reminder that it takes a long time to build a successful company helped me to be patient and remain motivated in the face of setbacks. 

We want to thank Ms. Catherine Denis for her inspiring insights! Her commitment to driving inclusion and empowering women in financial technology is truly impressive.

A big thank you to our readers for joining us as we celebrate amazing women leaders in Fintech!. Stay tuned and follow #FITSPAWomenLeaders to meet the next generation of leaders shaping the future of finance.