• Afshan Dadan & Kshitija Kaur

Parting Ways With Partisanship: FinTechs Building For Women

Bias exists – in education, politics, finance, and so much so, even when it comes to integrity. While the rosy picture showcases a parity where both men and women equally coexist in all aspects of life, the view is a whole lot different when the rose-colored glasses are taken off. A 32% gap still remains towards reaching gender parity, as per the Global Gender Gap Index.


With 85% of women controlling their families’ day-to-day finances, and the ever-increasing discussion around the inclusion of gender-based diversity, breaking the glass ceiling that blankets over ethical decision-making shouldn’t be a tough task to tackle. Yet, with women holding only 31% of the positions at the C-suite level, even lower if taking into account women of color, #breakingthebias may indeed require more than just a brainstorming session.


Realizing that the invisible blocks women experience towards financial inclusion are more the product of long-held social beliefs as well as behavioral and symbolic misrepresentations goes a long way in rooting out the core issues when tilting the lens on female inclusion in matters of finance. What’s even more crucial to realize, however, are the unique set of needs and lifestyle challenges through which women and men both function and differ, and the utilization of these unique perceptions to produce more tailored financial solutions in dispersing the much-clouded financial landscape.


In this post, we put the spotlight on the many FinTechs that are championing various financial services for women – throughout an assortment of segments that take into consideration the individualistic habits of women in spending, saving, budgeting, investing, and even business financing.


Female-Focused FinTechs: A Challenge And An Opportunity

It’s no news that the finance industry has always been painted to be more male-dominated, portraying women through an infantilized gaze – while men are perceived to have more leader-like qualities, adorned in representations of handling finances independently and mindfully. Despite data to prove that women possess equal leadership qualities and maintain active investment portfolios, representing women in the same light as their male counterparts is somehow lost in execution.


By picking up on the differences that account for each individual’s personalized financial journey, consumer-focused FinTechs are changing the game for financial vulnerability pertaining especially to the underserved communities.


Several players from the ecosystem are approaching gender imbalance through female-focused offerings that identify gender as a horizontal category that runs through all aspects of society and therefore, the economy. By designing solutions that serve as the vehicle for women’s empowerment in adopting financial services to eventually gain financial freedom, FinTechs display their potential in bridging the persisting gender gap.


Investing and Financial Planning

Today, plenty of women are familiar with the concept of investing in order to drive their savings ambitions. However, it has been found that globally only 33% of women see themselves as investors. FinTech solutions have the potential to bring a change in this aspect with their digital solutions that can be accessed by a wider audience. Your Juno, an app closing the gender gap in financial literacy by offering bite-sized, engaging, and expert financial education for single women and non-binary people, is one of the many initiatives that is doing just that. India-based Basis works on a similar note, being a financial services destination for women that is powered by education and communities. US’ Ellevest is another well-known firm that is helping women build their wealth by creating and managing a personalized investment portfolio for them.


Banking

Nigeria’s FinTech startup for creating financial resources for women Herconomy; US-based Sequin debit card that builds credit for women; and São Paolo’s gender-equity oriented ElasBank account for few of the names that are banking on women to enable them to access credit – an area that many women are denied the right to, and where many face systematic barriers of lower credit limits and credit card rejections instead. By providing a set of banking services related to accounts and loans with lower interest rates, financial institutions and providers act as catalysts in achieving financial sustainability.


Financing for SMEs and Micro-entrepreneurs

The need to set up more women-owned SMEs in emerging markets is critical to boosting the economic growth, which makes it crucial to ensure that interruptions in the form of lack of credit information, limitation to legal capacity and property rights, as well as lack of access to human capital and collateral are attended to as soon as possible. HerVest is a Nigeria-based FinTech platform that is addressing the gender gap in agriculture by enabling small-holder female farmers to participate in key financial services such as impact investment and flexible, goal-based savings. Indonesia-based Amartha is another fintech that is connecting micro and SME business partners with potential online lenders in a bid to modernize micro-financing for the informal sector. Other names that are helping women micropreneurs in assisting their socio-economic mobility include California-based non-profit organization Kiva, Kenya’s microfinance company Cherehani, Spain’s crowdlending platform Microwd, and Nigeria-based social enterprise for rural women in Africa, Mamamoni.


Insurance

Australia’s travel insurance brand Travel with Jane and US-based InsurTech company Jenny Life are addressing an important need for women from all walks of life – the ability to apply for insurance that will aid in building their financial backup for a secure future. While Jenny Life delivers fully-customized, budget-friendly life insurance that removes the unnecessary unfair practices from buying a life insurance, Travel with Jane is turning the tide by offering affordable and flexible protection, with 10 optional extras that are tailored keeping all sorts of travelers in mind.


Attuning Attitudes: Narrowing In On Narrow Boxes

Bursting the bubble surrounding culture begins with acknowledging the critical work that women put in daily in advancing the financial abundance of the society as a whole. Once this has been established after surpassing the many micro-aggressive behaviors that are passed around in the blink of an eye, the next step involves narrowing in on the many platforms and literacy efforts that can draw women out of socially-narrow boxes. By leveraging their drive to make a difference for humanity in their quest for financial resilience, women can serve to be role models not only for other aspiring women in the space but also for the many marginalized people that feel insecure about their abilities in managing their own funds.


With many platforms across geographies and industries gearing up to address the disconnect between diverse socio-economic concerns, such as racial equity and gender imbalance, it is equally important to keep in mind to not take progress for granted – for it is only consistent practices that target deep-rooted beliefs that will paint the real vision of a bias-free world we all truly desire for.