While fintech may be its own unique industry, it’s technically still a niche within the tech field. What this means is that it can be impacted by many of the same trends affecting other tech industries. For instance, women have historically struggled to achieve the same degree of recognition as men in the tech industry. This isn’t due to a lack of skill. It’s more likely the result of various biases and factors that can limit the opportunities available to women.
Luckily, many have recognized this as a problem that needs to be corrected. That’s why they’re taking strides to increase inclusion in fintech. The following are just a few examples that illustrate this trend:
Barclays and Anthemis Team Up
Anthemis has embraced a distinctive approach to investing in businesses. Through its “studio model,” Anthemis often invests in startups earlier than other traditional investment firms would, and it even develops companies around strong entrepreneurs—rather than ideas—in some instances. Clearly, the team at Anthemis has unique and novel perspectives on helping entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality.
This forward-thinking approach may explain why Anthemis recently partnered with Barclays to create the Female Innovators Lab. Located in New York City, this is another of Anthemis’ startup studios. That said, it’s different from the firm’s other studios for one key reason: it’s dedicated to providing female fintech entrepreneurs with a space to grow their businesses.
Founders who meet the lab’s criteria will be provided with early funding. Initially, they’ll develop their ideas in Anthemis’ studio. When they are ready for the next round of seed funding, they’ll move to Rise, a Barclays coworking space.
The potential value of this is tremendous. Statistics indicate that female entrepreneurs continue to receive a very small portion of venture capital funding. Thus, creating a lab and program that invest solely in fintech startups created by women will provide them with opportunities that they may not have otherwise had available to them.
In fact, the team at Anthemis believes that this is essential to promoting greater overall inclusion and diversity in the fintech space. It’s not enough to make a point of hiring women and minorities more often, nor is it enough to seek out startups founded by them. In order to enact real change, you must create a solid foundation for inclusion. Amy Nauiokas, the founder of Anthemis, explains, “When you’re actually trying to find companies founded by women and people of color and you can’t [find it] in a certain sector, then there has to be an institutional, seismic problem at the systemic level. So our thought was: Let’s get in at the very beginning.”
Boston-based FintechWomen is just one example of a group of female business professionals coming together to create a community that supports female entrepreneurship in the fintech sector. FintechWomen does so in a number of ways. The accelerator hosts events to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with information about the industry, offer networking opportunities, support inclusion movements in fintech, and encourage women to share their personal career stories and develop mentor/mentee relationships. The goal is to develop a community in which members build mutual trust and support each other’s goals.
Consider, for instance, “Let’s Start with Allies.” FintechWomen hosted this event in order to promote an honest discussion about the need for greater diversity and inclusion in fintech. This involves educating male business leaders and entrepreneurs about how they can leverage their influence to make industry-wide changes.
It’s worth noting that FintechWomen is by no means the only accelerator or group with this type of goal. It simply represents a growing trend. By coordinating with each other, women can create more opportunities for themselves and female entrepreneurs in general.
Women in Fintech Powerlist
It’s important to highlight stories of female entrepreneurs who are creating successful fintech companies. This demonstrates to the skeptics that women are just as qualified as anyone else to create fintech startups, and it encourages aspiring female entrepreneurs to pursue their goals.
Thus, it’s helpful when industry bodies such as the UK-based Innovate Finance publish lists such as its Women in Fintech Powerlist. As its name implies, this organization (which receives a large volume of applications annually) aims to showcase women who’ve recently achieved major success in the fintech industry. Since the list is broken down into categories, such as “Senior Leaders” and “Rising Stars,” it also illustrates the various ways that women can succeed in fintech.
The importance of including women in fintech cannot be overstated. In fact, a recent survey has confirmed that fintech startups with female founders generally yield returns that are twice as large as those from comparable startups with male founders. This means that fintech startups founded by women may also represent strong investment opportunities. The more that businesses, organizations, and individuals come together to support female entrepreneurs, the more likely it is that those startups will grow.