The Latin American region is generally an up and coming region with respect to its wider economic development. Specifically, the region has seen a growth and importance in fintech, producing its own unique innovations, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the space. As The Fintech Times in September celebrates Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the female leaders in Latin America. One of them is Inma Canadas, who is originally from Spain but lives in Perú and is an expert in fintech and specifically in e-signatures and secure transactions.
Inma Cañadas is a serial entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in entrepreneurship and marketing. She lived in the United States for 7 years where she studied Business Administration and then moved to Barcelona, Spain where she founded Depacto, a pier-to-pier package transport service. After five years, she moved to Lima, Perú, where she is currently based. In Perú she cofounded Holosens a software house which gave birth to Cinepapaya, a movie ticket selling platform that expanded throughout Latam and was later acquired by Fandango, an NBC Universal company. In 2019, she cofounded Keynua, an e-signature company specially designed for Latin America which combines e-signatures with the identity verification in real-time. FIntechs were among the first industries to incorporate Keynua into their processes. She is in charge of Marketing and Product and has been closely working with fintechs, understanding their needs and designing experiences for their different processes.
Describe your career journey so far …
I started working in different industries across the board, from education to energy, but soon I realized that I didn’t want to work for somebody else but do things my own way. I have always been a risk-taker and the natural career path for me was to start my own business. In doing so I could learn different roles and acquire experience in different areas of a company. I started Depacto and although the company did not succeed (this was before Facebook and social networks) I fell in love with creating new things, new products and new ways of doing things. It was clear that I had to do my own thing and thus started my career as an entrepreneur. I cofounded Holosens, a company that developed digital products and services for other companies but also for itself to commercialize. We developed a doctor’s appointment software when nobody had it, and we also made webpages with the movie showtimes for different countries in Latam. That webpage later became Cinepapaya, a movie ticket platform that expanded to all Latam with movie content and e-ticketing for more than 12 countries. I learned a lot about fraud, the hard way, and about the importance of user experience above everything else. Those learnings were super helpful to conceive and develop Keynua, with those two factors in mind. Keynua aims to facilitate agreements among companies in the easiest and safest way possible.
As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?
Inevitably, I have to talk about the chauvinistic culture that still prevails in Latam which is what makes the arena different for men and women. The rest, of course, include the same challenges every entrepreneur faces. On that note, the most common attitudes women need to put up with in business meetings are being ignored and being patronized. Men were used to owning the business space and women used to bring coffees not so long ago; there are still lots of men who like it that way or have been unable to evolve. The added problem is that they are not being called out by their male counterparts, because most of them don’t even notice. These attitudes towards women are so common that they don’t see anything different or incorrect just because these attitudes are not being noticed by them. For men, it is business as usual.
On the other hand, women have to find the equilibrium between putting up with these attitudes while not risking their goals and reputations.
What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region?
What’s happening in the region is the dynamization of financial services. Fintechs have arrived to fill a space that traditional banks have been unable to cater to. The need has always been there, but a part of society has been ignored and neglected by traditional financial service providers. Fintechs are changing the rules and this is going to be good for everybody. Moreover, fintechs have brought different rules to the game. They have the start-up mentality in the way they operate and that makes them more agile, they are able to take more risks and have a more customer-centric culture. They are faster to react and to adapt to changes. It is going to be very interesting to see how banks adapt to having different competitors, who play by their own rules.
What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in the Latin American region?
Keep doing what’s best for your business, regardless of how others treat you. Control what you can and don’t bother too much about what you cannot change. That does not mean that you need to put up with anything that you don’t want to, but we need to change things by doing rather than saying. Change takes time and we all need to do our part, but it’s unrealistic to think that things will change overnight.
Take into account that you can do things differently, you can bring your own female idiosyncrasy into the game, and you don’t have to abide by the male codes of doing business.