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How the fintech sector has changed for women

Gender imbalance has been a challenge for many areas of the tech industry, including fintech. And while much has changed, there’s still a long way to go.

The tech industry and its subsectors are known for their gender imbalances. A strong spotlight has been placed on diversity for many years now and in many areas of technology, things are beginning to improve.

One of the areas that has suffered from this gender imbalance has been the fintech industry. According to the 2018 Irish Fintech Census, 19pc of Irish fintech companies comprised all men, while only 13pc had a 50/50 ratio of men and women. Additionally, only 60pc of fintechs reported having at least one woman on their executive team.

While these figures are stark, heard from two women within the industry who can attest that a lot has changed in the sector, with more women claiming roles in the space.

Michelle McGuire is the CEO of Gecko Governance, an Irish data-driven platform for the financial services industry. McGuire, who is also a member of the advisory board for The Fintech Corridor, said the industry is becoming less dominated by men.

“This is hugely helped by the industry working groups like The Fintech Corridor, who demystify the fact that you don’t need to be a coder or a tech person to work in this space,” she said.

Kaj Bansal, senior technical programme manager at US financial company Capital One, has been in the financial industry for almost 16 years, with eight of those years being in tech.

She said that when she first joined the tech side of finance, she became acutely aware of sometimes being the only woman in the room, as well as the only woman of colour.

“I’ve often struggled with imposter syndrome – because I don’t have a background in software engineering or computer science like a lot of my male colleagues, I’ve often worried about not measuring up.” However, she said her team at Capital One are encouraging and never let her feel like she doesn’t belong.

“Over the years I’ve seen lots more women around me. Encouragingly, these are coming through our pipelines, for example, our grad schemes and internships. Outside of engineering and coding skills, it’s refreshing to have a diverse set of voices – a different lens on problem solving that can only be achieved when many different people come together.”

The good

As well as her work with Gecko Governance and The Fintech Corridor, McGuire is an associate faculty member of education body PAT Fintech on its fintech risk and compliance programmes.

“The uptake by females of the courses is a huge indicator to me that women feel that this is a real career option for them,” she said.

“When I entered the industry five years ago, I had concerns about the stability and future of the sector and it took a leap of faith for me to change roles – particularly given that I had worked with a tier one investment bank, which brought a lot of stability with it.

“So, when I made my choice to change roles, I committed to myself that I would get involved in the sector as much as possible, so that it did become a real career option for employees and particularly women, which I really feel it has.”

Bansal has also seen a lot of positive changes in the sector, particularly the level of exposure younger generations have to technology.

“I don’t ever remember being encouraged to consider technology as a career when I was younger. I’m not even sure I fully understood what coding was or what business systems were until I was much older. My 12-year-old daughter has been exposed to coding right from primary school, and I know she isn’t an isolated case.”

She added that many companies, including her own, are investing in increasing the representation of women in tech by going into schools and being present at recruitment fairs, holding coding programmes for young people and “showing the children of today that a career isn’t just limited to being a nurse or a teacher”.

The bad

While changes over the last number of years have been positive for gender diversity in the fintech sector, there are still plenty of challenges facing the industry.

“Too few fintech companies have female founders, or even female leaders. Statistics have also shown that investment in female-led companies is practically non-existent in comparison to that of their male counterparts,” said McGuire.

“Part of the problem here comes back to the challenge of getting females into STEM-related studies, which can be a provider of some of the skills needed to get going in the fintech sector.”

Bansal added that while gender diversity is one hurdle that has improved, this needs to be extended further. “I see many men of colour around me, but still far fewer women of colour. I believe this is because a lot of ethnic minority families haven’t been exposed to the possibilities of a career in technology, especially for women,” she said.

“My own family were hopeful of me becoming a doctor or lawyer someday because those are careers that they understand. We need to find a way to make technology careers more accessible to minority groups without the stigma that being technical and mathematical is only allowed for men.”

The future

Looking ahead at the work that still needs to be done, McGuire said more role models are needed in the fintech industry, and if the 2018 census figures are anything to go by, it means the women who are in leadership positions need to be highlighted more.

“To consider fintech a realistic career path, women need to see more examples of their gender achieving success across the sector,” she said.

“Championing female fintech leaders and ensuring that they are visible throughout the corporate structure can play a pivotal role in encouraging women to take their first steps into fintech, slowly but surely working away at the gender imbalance.”

Bansal said that as well as tackling the pipeline problem, companies need to rethink their approach to seeking candidates for roles in technology.

“There are a number of roles in tech that don’t necessarily require a technical background. My own career history has proven that for some technology roles, what you really need are great organisation, communication and leadership skills – and so, how do we encourage people with this skillset to feel confident enough to consider technology for their next move?”

For those thinking about making a career move into the fintech industry, McGuire advised reaching out to The Fintech Corridor or attending fintech-related events to get more familiar with the industry. “LinkedIn really is a valuable tool also, so don’t be afraid to use it!”

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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