Martha Mghendi-Fisher – Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019

This article features an interview with Martha Mghendi-Fisher, Founder of European Women Payments Network (EWPN) and African Women in Fintech and Payments (AWFP), one of LATTICE80's Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019.

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This interview is part of a series of interviews featuring female Fintech leaders globally. LATTICE80, in partnership with Miss Kaya, recently published our Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019 list.The effort reflects our efforts in women empowerment and support in a field where women continue to be underrepresented. Check out the full list for 2018 here as well. 

Miss Kaya is a lifestyle driven financial platform for the modern woman that aims to empower them to carve their own financial freedom through technologically-empowered financial tools. The mission is to provide the modern women globally with the support, resources, and community they need to live the lifestyle that they want.

Disclaimer: The interviews are published on a rolling basis and the order by which they are published by no means representative of any rankings.

This article features an interview with Martha Mghendi-Fisher, Founder of European Women Payments Network (EWPN) and African Women in Fintech and Payments (AWFP).

  1. Tell us more about what you do and how did you move into Fintech?

I have been in fintech, particularly payments, for over a decade. I got into this industry by accident, like so many other people. I had just migrated to The Netherlands from my native country Kenya, and it was hard to get accounting jobs (what I studied) because of my lack of Dutch language skills. The only choice I had was to find English speaking jobs that were somehow related to finance. That’s when I came across TSYS (one of the largest processing companies). I worked for TSYS for 5,9 years, first supporting Acquiring clients, then moving to Issuing. I then changed gears and moved to work for Payvision, a Global Acquirer for 4 years when I managed the Card Scheme Compliance and Operations Department Globally. In the meantime, I started European Women Payments Network (EWPN) in 2016 with a sole purpose of breaking the silos and opening opportunities for women across Europe. I realised that we had many local groups for women, but there was no single pan-European community, so our opportunities were locked down in smaller silos. I wanted to break these silos and open up the opportunities so we can share on a cross border level, just like we were doing business. By creating this first and currently, the only pan-European community for women, I strongly believe that the opportunities are endless. My drive and desire is to live long enough to see a world where organisations like ours are no longer needed because the industry will be 100% diverse and inclusive.

  1. What does being a woman in Fintech mean to you?

To me it’s very simple. The sky is the limit. I don’t take it for granted that we, as women, have all these possibilities we enjoy now because the women (and some men) that came before us fought, and in some cases lost their lives, so that we can enjoy the possibilities we enjoy now. I constantly remind myself this fact, and as a woman in Fintech, I have made a promise to myself to do my part to ensure that women, minorities and people of colour that come after me, will have even much better opportunities than we have now. That they will get to experience equal opportunities where their gender or race is not the determining or limiting factor. As a woman in fintech, I also realise that I have the power to directly influence the industry to create product and services that are inclusive and I take this responsibility seriously.

  1. What challenges do you think women face in Fintech?

There are some challenges that are similar and common across the world, however, to be able to drill them down, you have to distinguish into categories. The common ones are: pay gap, discrimination, lack of opportunity, having to balance career and families etc. But when you drill them down, you will realise that the issues women face in Eastern Europe, will be slightly different from the ones women face in Southern or Western Europe. Then within Europe, you have to go deeper to see that the issues women of colour and LGTBQ face will be different as well. So for us to be in a position to fully understand the real challenges, we all have to categorise them and only then, can we fully understand them and then come up with tangible solutions.

  1. What advice would you give to other women starting out and growing their careers in Fintech?

There are endless opportunities. Decide what path you want to follow and got for it. Be willing to be the student until to master the subject or sub sector that you want to become an expert on. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, there is no question that is stupid. Don’t be afraid to restart and follow a different path. Your career is 100% your responsibility. Take charge of it and shape it the way you want. Identify people you admire and those who have knowledge and expertise that you want to have. Follow them on social media. Read articles they write. Comment on articles they share. Get out of your comfort zone and do the things that will help you get to where you want to be. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be willing to learn from all your experiences for the next lesson.

  1. What are three keywords to describe Fintech for 2019?

Customer Centric, Ethical Innovation & Transparency