The FinTech’s future in Latin America belongs to Women
There are five female entrepreneurs that are shaking up LatAm’s FinTech sector and should be on your watchlist. Let’s meet them
From Venezuela to Argentina, walking through Chile or Uruguay, the LatAm FinTech sector is speaking female. Finnovista and the Inter-American Development Bank share some facts of the women’s role in Fintech companies. Almost half of these emerging companies registered in Uruguay, for example, have been founded or co-founded by women (47%). The female entrepreneurial spirit has also left its mark on Peruvian and Colombian fintechs; 44% and 42% of them have been created by entrepreneurs, respectively.
In one industry that has been particularly male-dominated, in Latin America women are stepping up as fintech leaders, despite gender inequality is already quite prevalent in Latin America. As we had the possibility to see previously, LatAm FinTech industry is rocketing, and women have been an integral part of the region’s success. There are five female entrepreneurs that are shaking up LatAm’s FinTech sector and should be on your watchlist.
1. Suzy Ferreira: CEO and founder of Dinie
Suzy Ferreira is the CEO and founder of Dinie, an API-first embedded finance platform based in Brazil. Ferreira became a spotlight for her work pioneering new financial services models–and powering financial inclusion–at Dinie. The company strives to enable large ecosystems such as e-commerce marketplaces to become the bank of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Launched a few months before the pandemic exploded globally, in less than 18 months of existence, Dinie has granted around 1,500 loans and partnered with Brazilian e-commerce enabling platforms such as iFood by MovilePay, Elo7 and Uruguayan payment unicorn dLocal. “Because this was the moment that the small businesses were even more in need of our product, and our product is very cash oriented, we were able to prove very fast and knew that clients wanted our product,” she said last year attending the Ptecdora 2021” awards last year.
And the company is expanding its business. In July 2021, Dinie raised US$3.8 million in a seed round and a further US$20 million in debt through a local securitization. This new injection of capital will be used to strengthen the firm’s end-to-end embedded credit infrastructure and further expose its APIs to Brazil’s largest e-commerce platforms and provide more than 15,000 MSMEs with embedded products such as Dinie Credit Account (business overdraft) and DiniePay (Buy Now, Pay later for businesses).
2. Amparo Nalvarte: Co-Founder of B89
Amparo Nalvarte, after an extraordinary career in Culqi, a platform that allows any Peruvian business to accept payments over the internet, and of which she is still a director and minority shareholder, is the co-founder of one first Perù-based neobank. We are talking about B89.After a first pilot phase, B89 aims to break the “near-oligopoly” in Peruvian banking. The fintech, is targeting a young client base, unsatisfied with existing banking products and B89’s digital financial offering is based around a mobile app. Before the official launch last year, B89 builded a waiting list of clients. Just a couple of weeks after opening the list, it has 2,000 registrants. The company had a list of 25,000 potential customers at the end of 2020.
This second startup has been less difficult to launch. In terms of capital raising, for example, it used to take between 6 and 8 months to close a round of US$ 300,000, she says. Now, in much less time, she has managed to secure larger amounts, even from a single investor”, she said. “Raising investment during a pandemic, without having a physical interview, and going and selling your startup to an investor who doesn’t know you and only sees you for a little bit through a camera is a challenge, but what is most valuable here, is personability,” says Nalvarte to media.
3. María Elena Machado: Founder and director of Fintech Venezuela
Founder and director of Fintech Venezuela, a group that brings together more than 600 startups in the country, María Elena Machado since 2018, is promoting the Caribbean country's financial inclusion. She is well known in the LatAm region for breaking down barriers. According to data provided by its company, the association that she is in charge of, managed to establish an alliance with Amazon that granted more than 15 Venezuelan companies access to loans of up to US$6,500.
This is an outstanding agreement considering the country’s political and economic landscape, which is blighted by hyperinflation and instability and where “the financing routes are not so open,” says Machado to the media.
Last year, the Interfintech pilot project, a platform that supports innovation agreements between fintech companies and Banco Plaza, officially took off. The main goal is t”o allow fintechs to use an approved system to connect to the bank under an open banking arrangement, without compromising security”, said Machado.
4. Cynthia Villar: Co-founder of MiBolsillo
With more than 15 years of experience as entrepreneur, Cynthia Villar is the co-founder of MiBolsillo. The app helps users build a digital financial identity that allows them to access formal financial solutions that fit their needs and profiles. Nowadays, the fintech operates in Brazil, Peru, and Guatemala and after participating in SUP Chile and SUM they will soon enter Mexico and Chile. “MiBolsillo leverages the use of technology to create a solution that reduces the human bias generated by traditional credit models”, said Villar.
The app became a concrete help to SMEs to increase efficiency and customer loyalty by reducing acquisition costs and accompanying clients in the debt repayment process to maintain their financial health. MiBolsillo’s key to success is actually to be able to understand three fundamental trends of the LatAm finch sector. First, the people in the region are seeking for new and concrete digital solutions to solve their needs. Second, the digital wave is the perfect instrument to made “banked” the “unbanked”. A continued search to integrate more people in the formal financial sector. On one hand, financial and microfinance companies need more people eligible for loans and, on the other hand, micro-entrepreneurs cannot grow properly without access to formal and fairer financial solutions. And last, but not least, fintechs that focus on financial health and B2B2C models.
5. Ximena Aleman Garcia: Co-founder of Prometeo
Uruguay’s Prometeo is riding the Latin American open banking boom. The Montevideo-based fintech, and its co-CEO Ximena Alemán, decided to develop open banking APIs for fintechs and financial companies in the region. Today the company claims to be the largest open banking platform in Latin America in terms of connections to its application programming interfaces (APIs), which are the building blocks to enable financial systems’ interconnectivity and customer information sharing. According to Alemán, individuals and companies in nine countries in Latin America are connected to Prometeo’s APIs. Non-banking financial companies include Rappi, BanBif and CapitalTech, moreover, the fintech has also in its base some of the largest banks in Latin America,
Aleman explains that while there was a lot of uncertainty before about the application of open banking in Latin America, it is now much more viable and scalable. “For us, who are visionaries of open banking, it’s felt like an endorsement,” she says. Mexico, Peru and Colombia are the three largest markets for fintech, and the company is ready to strengthen its presence in Brazil and Chile. Since the launch in 2019, the company witnessed an impressive growth and the interest in this kind of solution. API calls to the platform, for example, grew 2,000% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the executive.