On Wednesday, 22nd September, we were delighted to sponsor and attend the annual Next Money Female Leaders in FinTech event. Over 100 FinTech enthusiasts were treated to a fantastic panel discussion and Q&A at the Dubai Futures Accelerator. The event focused on the challenges associated with leading FinTech businesses in the Middle East and the stages start-up businesses go through as they grow. As moderator Mirna Slieman of FinTech Galaxy observed, “We have the skills to succeed in business, we need to make sure we always carry them with us”.
The panel was made up of three fantastic leaders from the FinTech ecosystem. Sonia Gokhale, of VentureSouq, Raja Al Mazrouei who leads DIFC Hive and well-known investor Heather Henyon talked in detail about the challenges facing young FinTech firms and how they go from a killer idea to a functioning business.
Specific areas that were covered included finding funding, accelerating growth and partnering with existing businesses. These are challenges for any founder but the statistics for any female founded business indicate an additional challenge. For example, as City AM recently pointed out, just 9% of funding goes to female led businesses.
Whilst certain parts of the world have well documented issues with sexual discrimination and harassment. All four of our leaders on stage felt that the business culture in Dubai was extremely respectful of female leaders. The discussion also led into unconscious bias, especially in Venture Capital circles. As one female FinTech owner said, “I never really thought there was a problem with bias, but when you look at the statistics they speak for themselves.”
A Q&A session took place after the discussion and highlighted a range of topics including; what people within the ecosystem can do to help FinTech leaders of all types succeed. Whilst there are no easy answers, there is clear incentive for the sector to do better, according to analysis that American VC First Round Capital organised of their own holdings, female founders’ companies out-performed their rivals by 63%. Whatever the challenges the panellists and many of the audience provide inspiration and strong role models for anyone considering a career in FinTech.
To watch the full event, visit the Next Money Facebook pag