Women’s History Month Special: Female Innovators who Changed the FinTech Landscape

By Techfunnel Author - Published on March 29, 2023
Article is about how womens are changing the fintech industry.

In the context of startups, male workers continue to dominate the global fintech founder/entrepreneur community, with only 7% of founders being female. If more progress is to be achieved, investors as well as the financial services sector must reassess their current practices.

Increased female presence and encouragement from the fintech startup community, would, conversely, act as an incubator for fresh ideas, solutions, and services. Similar to how the fintech sector blossomed during the 2008 financial crisis, the impacts of COVID-19 and its disruption of the business environment might actually help balance out the playing field and open up a multitude of exciting possibilities for female entrepreneurs.

As we close Women’s History Month 2023, which is celebrated internationally in March, this article highlights the journeys of female innovators who changed the fintech landscape.

Sarah Ratner, COO of Lendable, opens doors for new fintech companies

Sarah Ratner is the Chief Operating Officer of Lendable, a leading provider of loan financing to fintech businesses in frontier and developing economies.

Lendable gives unbanked and underbanked communities access to innovative financial services and products. It has disbursed more than $225 million to fintech firms in over 14 countries. Ratner’s work requires her to enhance her company’s portfolio to keep up with its geographic expansion, while also ensuring that the quality of its activities remains consistent. Ratner studied philosophy and the performing arts at Oxford Brookes University.

Upasana Taku, Co-founder of MobiKwik, scales to 120 million users having started as a bootstrapped company

“My Co-founder Bipin and I started this digital wallet in 2009, when India was completely a cash economy,” says Taku. She adds that, despite the fact that many opposed her launching a business, the negative commentary and discrimination only served to inspire her. It was self-funded for the initial four years, spending under $100 million since launch, to reach its present size of 120 million registered users. Now, the firm focuses on Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) for day-to-day payments and has 24 million of the most pre-approved BNPL customers across India.

Julie Watts, Head of Onboarding Management at Kurtosys, helps deliver a DXP for financial institutions

Julie Watts is the Onboarding Management Director of Kurtosys. She assists financial services organizations in achieving continuous development with the Kurtosys Cloud, a digital experience platform (DXP) designed specifically for the fintech sector’s requirements. Design and customization of websites or digital marketing tools, documentation, and client reporting portals are common tasks — managed by the platform.

Watts is a veteran in the sector. She has over 25 years of expertise in financial services technology, along with experience in project management and a thorough comprehension of data, technology, and UI/UX. Before joining Kurtosys, Watts was a vice president at Thomson Reuters and the manager of GRIS administration for Merrill Lynch.

Katie Palencsar, from the Anthemis Group, invests in early-stage female-founded fintech businesses

Earlier, Palencsar developed and managed Unbound Concepts, a data SaaS business, from conception to sales. In addition to offering free software tools to more than 40,000 instructors, worldwide distributors and privately held and publicly listed publishers used the company’s data services. Certica Solutions purchased the startup in 2017.

At that point, Palencsar was involved with a variety of initiatives. “I realized two things really lit me on fire: early-stage companies (starting with a pitch deck and a dream); and driving capital and support to female founders,” she says.

She was fascinated when the opportunity arose at Anthemis Group to create the Female Innovators Lab in collaboration with Barclays. It would also enable her to engage with early-stage businesses, where she could utilize her operational knowledge and skills to assist and support female entrepreneurs eventually.

Julia Markiewicz, Co-founder of Silent Eight, drives AI research in fintech

Julia Markiewicz is the Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder of Silent Eight, a technology startup that leverages AI-powered methods to fight money laundering and terrorism funding. Markiewicz possesses a Master’s degree in Social Policy and is enthusiastic about innovation and inspiring others to reach their full potential.

Her distinctive managerial style is the driving force behind Quiet Eight’s strong investment in R&D and the growth of the team’s regional footprint. She is based in Singapore. Markiewicz is a member of both 100Women in Fintech Directory as well as RegTech Women’s founding membership.

Natasha Jethanandani, Co-founder of neobank Kaleidofin, advocates for financial inclusion

“The need for financial services innovation is much larger for these 500-600 million sized segments rather than the top 50-100 million customers in the higher income groups,” says Jethanandani, co-founder and CTO of Kaleidofin.

Unfortunately, it is challenging to reach out to informal customer groups. For instance, the client base is quite diverse in terms of states, jobs, income levels, and objectives. Consumers often have little understanding of financial items and are also influenced by prior community experiences. Offerings must be created that are simple to comprehend, easy to use, and individualized for each consumer.

In less than five years since it was established, Kaleidofin now serves over a million clients in semi-urban and rural India spanning 230 districts in 14 states.

Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-founder of PiggyVest, champions the cause of equality for women in Nigeria

Odunayo is the Co-Founder as well as Chief Operating Officer of PiggyVest, Nigeria’s premier digital savings and investing platform. It is a safe online savings system that encourages wealth creation by combining discipline and adaptability to assist you in accumulating funds.

She was selected as one of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 Technology Leaders for 2019 and one of Quartz Africa’s 30 Innovators for 2019. She co-founded The Feminist Coalition in 2020, a coalition of young Nigerian feminists who aim to achieve equality for women in Nigerian society, focused on education, financial independence, and inclusion in public office.

Sonia Dorais, CEO of Chaser, supercharges growth for the financial process automation company

Sonia Dorais is the Chief Executive Officer of Chaser, the industry-leading supplier of credit management services and accounts receivable automation solutions. As a consequence of Dorais’s leadership as well as the new strategic vision for Chaser in her first year as CEO, the company’s sales surged by 103% and its total addressable market grew by 700%.

Through her leadership, Chaser has assisted companies in recovering over $10 billion in delinquent payments. Prior to assuming this position, Dorais oversaw the expansion of a number of fintechs in Canada and the United Kingdom that specialized in the automation and digitization of accounting and finance functions.


According to research from 2021, women make up 19% of fintech company executives, 11% of board members, and 1.5% of founders, but receive only 1% of overall venture capital. Women account for around 30% of the entire fintech workforce. This is a small number, yet the pandemic was difficult for all women in the workforce.

Between February 2020 and January 2022, millions of women left their employment to take care of their children, even as schools and daycares remained closed. Now that things have begun to improve, there are indications that women are coming back to the workforce. For others, workplace conditions have improved significantly since the days before the pandemic, as remote work and flexible schedules have become more widely accepted.

Despite the lack of quantifiable evidence on the status of women in fintech in 2023, there are several reasons for optimism. Sarah Ratner, Upasana Taku, Julie Watts, Katie Palencsar, Julia Markiewicz, Natasha Jethanandani, Odunayo Eweniyi, Sonia Dorais, and numerous others are not only trailblazers in their respective industries; they are also community icons.

For  the sector to advance towards a sustainable future, it is vital that the glass ceiling is continuously — and proactively — smashed through, with “just a little help” from organizations and communities.

Read our exclusive interviews with Yunha Kim, CEO & Founder, Simple, Ashley M. Fox, Founder, Empify, and Theodora Lau, Founder, Unconventional Ventures, for more such insights on the occasion of Women’s History Month.

Techfunnel Author | TechFunnel.com is an ambitious publication dedicated to the evolving landscape of marketing and technology in business and in life. We are dedicated to sharing unbiased information, research, and expert commentary that helps executives and professionals stay on top of the rapidly evolving marketplace, leverage technology for productivity, and add value to their knowledge base.

Techfunnel Author | TechFunnel.com is an ambitious publication dedicated to the evolving landscape of marketing and technology in business and in life. We are dedicate...

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