Every year, the Amsterdam fintech world gets together for a whole week to connect, discuss and learn. While talent, movement and innovation are abundant in the Amsterdam financial ecosystem, there’s something still lacking. Where are the female fintech founders?
Female founders in fintech
Women are a minority in the world of fintech. Female founders even more so. “In general, female founders are underrepresented”, says Don Ginsel. He is the founder of Holland Fintech and initiator of the Amsterdam Fintech Week, or XFW. “The financial world is also male-dominated, so is the world of technology. So combine all these, and there are very few startups founded by women.”
The pipeline of talent is also not overflowing with female expertise, suggesting an equal playing field might be far away still. “People starting something new in fintech are all experienced in the financial sector. Startups are dealing with complex stuff like compliance, connectivity, replacing banking systems. That is not something you come up with if you haven’t been working in the financial world for years. And those are still mostly men.”
‘Implicit assumptions in the system’
The root of the problem, according to Ginsel, lies well before the moment where startups are founded. “Generally the work ethic between men and women is unequally distributed in the Netherlands. As a woman, you often still have to answer questions about how you combine your busy work with your private life. It’s those little things that show implicit assumptions of the system, and they already start at a very young age.”
However, there are some shining examples. Ginsel: “It’s really interesting to see different female founders in fintech have success. This paves the way for others.” These are examples to look up to.
Nx’change – Marleen Evertsz
All the good parts of a financial market, none of the bad. That is what NX’change promises. A platform to connect investors with people looking for investments and enables direct trading in securities between companies and investors, without the need for banks or brokers. The fintech startup from Amsterdam has a special focus on enabling and financing the energy transition.
The company is co-founded by Marleen Evertsz, who has vast experience in the financial world. Not only as a managing director of Optiver, for which she managed over 150 option traders in the US but as well as the founder of GoldRepublic. This trading platform for precious metals sold in 2013.
Blanco – Bernadette Wijnings
Founded in 2015 by Bernadette Wijnings, together with Joost Walgemoed, Blanco aims to be the invisible backbone of wealth management in Europe. It does so by offering a KYC & Compliance suite to simplify the KYC process, and an investment suite built on the teams’ knowledge of the asset management industry.
Wijnings, an entrepreneur at heart, gained experience working for, among others, BinckBank before setting up their own business. Starting as CFO at Blanco, she is now co-CEO of the pan European startup from Amsterdam.
Limitless – Sara Koslinka
Helping Millennials reach their financial goals. Talking about a challenge. Sara Koslinka is on it. Her app Limitless helps millennials to invest their money sensibly by taking away the large barriers of normal investing. At the same time, it is helping banks, insurances and investment funds connect with this often hard to reach audience.
Before founding Limitless together with Ka-ming Lim, CEO Koslinka gained experience in startup ecosystems all over the world. From working for Rocket Internet in Singapore to setting up Startup Poland in Warsaw. In 2017, Limitless completed the Startupbootcamp Amsterdam Fintech & Cybersec.
The Social Handshake – Sandra van Beest
Giving to charity is a good thing to do. It is also easy to forget. The Social Handshake allows employees to automatically donate a small – or large – part of their salary to charity. This fintech for good startup not only offers set-it-and-forget-it ease of use for making donations but also includes tax incentives for employees and strengthens the purpose of companies.
The Social Handshake is founded by Sandra van Beest who is, according to her profile, all about doing business and about doing good. She got to practice that combination for several NGOs as well as a strategy consultant for Boston Consulting Group.
XFW lowering the barrier of fintech
Female founders are rocking the fintech world in Amsterdam. There’s just not many of them. Ginsel is trying to shift the balance as much as possible during Amsterdam Fintech Week. “We are collaborating with Women in European Payment Network. We’ve also selected mostly experienced female moderators for the debates or panels.”
Ginsel is also trying to lower the barrier for anyone else to feel included in the fintech community in Amsterdam. “Fintech is full of jargon and complexity, which is why it is not accessible for everyone. But many fintech solutions are tools that serve many people, not just the industry. We want to start with the clients and how their lives change through the tools of fintech.”
Amsterdam Fintech Week: starting June 4th
That means, avoiding complex talk which might scare off the average Joe, says Ginsel. “The Amsterdam Fintech Week is not just fintech for fintech. We’re including consumer and SME organisations as well. Using less complicated language is a good way to attract a broader audience.
The Amsterdam Fintech Week starts tomorrow, June 4th. All week there will be talks on the most pressing topics in the Fintech ecosystem of Amsterdam and beyond, including the consumer side of fintech, the financial world of SMEs, connecting with the European ecosystem, a look behind the curtain of financial services and ethics, sustainability and fighting crime.