New club hopes to support women in finance


Courtesy of Fintech Women

Logo for Fintech Women

The first college chapter of Fintech Women USA was started at Suffolk University this semester by a group of female finance majors who are passionate about emerging technologies.

Chapter President Laura Velez became a part of Fintech Women after connecting with its founder and CEO, Jagathi Gururajan, who was a panelist at a Suffolk Finance Club event in the winter of 2019.

After virtually attending meetings for about a year, Velez suggested the company expand to schools and offered to assist with this expansion at Suffolk. She spoke with her fellow classmates in the Sawyer Business School and created a team of female identifying finance entrepreneurs.

Fintech Women’s mission is to offer opportunities and skills to women in the financial technology industry that help them combat difficulties they may face in the field.

According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business School, women occupy only 11% of senior management roles in venture capital firms, that invest in start-up companies with private equity financing. Female entrepreneurs were funded 2.2% of the total venture capital over 2018 compared to their male counterparts, as reported by Fortune.

“Our goal with this chapter… was to provide [women] with the skills necessary that when they go into the workforce, they are able to get funding by themselves,” said Velez. “That means providing them with internships, helping them find those internships and helping them develop the skills necessary.”

Over the next year, the chapter plans to help its members become well-rounded candidates for their future careers in finance through hosting three meetings each month. These meetings will consist of skill-development workshops, panels, networking events and academic discussions about fintech trends.

“I love to see the happy smiles from these women and help them grow. And grow together, because I also have to grow and I also need to learn from them,“ said Vice President Erisa Kapplani.

Female finance professionals will be invited as guest speakers and mentors to provide students with guidance and share their personal experiences and struggles in their careers. The chapter will also invite its members to attend Fintech Women’s USA monthly meetings to educate themselves on industry news and make connections with the national team.

“I really just want to meet different professionals, especially women in the field, because I feel like finance, in general, is male-dominated in some areas,” said Leah Magno, communications chair of the chapter. “So to be able to meet really empowering and really amazing, strong women in that industry is kind of unheard of. But I also just think that it is such a rare kind of opportunity to have.”

On April 20, guest speaker Sindhu Joseph, founder and CEO of CogniCor Technologies and winner of the European Union’s grand prize, will lead a discussion about the knowledge she has gained through her Ph.D. in artificial intelligence, six patents, work in financial services and the publication of her book.

These students plan to encourage Suffolk’s fintech community to take the chapter’s values of inclusivity and encouragement with them into the workplace after graduation.

Financial technology is a rapidly growing industry that Fintech Women is hoping to prepare its members for. According to Globe Newswire, the Global Fintech Market is expected to grow 23.5% each year through 2025.

“I think that fintech is the future,” said Irinia Malin, secretary of Fintech Women at Suffolk. “This club will be a chance for us to learn in-depth about fintech and apply all these skills, and practice.”

While computer science majors and students within the Sawyer Business School are highly encouraged to join, all majors are invited to learn about the growing technologies that are a part of their everyday lives. Men are also encouraged to attend meetings and become a part of the safe space the chapter is creating for women.

“We are welcoming everyone who wants to learn more, whether they have prior knowledge of fintech or if they are just starting and want to get their foot in the door of the world of fintech,” said Treasurer Ilda Ascic.

The first meeting will be on April 13 at 1:05 p.m. via Zoom.

Follow Fintech Women at Suffolk on Instagram @su_fintechwomen.