The Middle East and Africa (MEA) 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 the Women in Fintech we take a moment to hear more from some of the leading female leaders in both the Middle East and Africa. One of them is Anuscha Ahmed Iqbal who lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Anuscha has over 14 years of experience in investment banking and alternative asset management. She is currently CEO of Spotii, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions leading Shop Now Pay Later platform.
Prior to co-founding Spotii, Anuscha served as a managing director at The Abraaj Group where she oversaw the investment office function at the firm. Anuscha joined Abraaj in 2007 as a member of the investment team and was responsible for evaluating investment opportunities across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region covering a broad spectrum of industries.
Prior to joining Abraaj, Anuscha worked with Dresdner Kleinwort in New York as an analyst in the media group, working on mergers and acquisitions and film financing projects.
Anuscha graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors of Science in Economics from the Wharton School and a Bachelors of Arts in Biology from The College of Arts and Sciences in 2005.
Describe your career journey
I began my career in financial services as an investment banking analyst in New York after I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, USA. It was a great learning experience particularly with respect to instilling a strong work ethic, something I have carried with me since. I moved to Dubai, UAE in 2007 and joined a private equity firm looking at investments across multiple geographies and sectors. Subsequently, I co-founded Spotii and we went live in April 2020.
As a recognised thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?
Finding a good balance between driving forward a professional career and enjoying quality time with family. I have been very fortunate to have a strong support system at home that has allowed me to do both (not always very successfully, but family can be very forgiving) and its extremely important to not take that for granted.
What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region?
Spotii is a tech/digital business first and so digitisation is embedded in everything we do. We believe sophisticated data analytics is now more important than ever for ecommerce. Spotii’s data analytics team is very focused on using data and information to study changing consumer demands. Spotii replaces the old school “gut” reactions, with sophisticated algorithms to allow our partners to drive data driven decisions.
The consumer behavioural shift seen due to COVID-19 with people shopping online more comfortably will definitely continue. We have seen shoppers who had never shopped online do so and then having experienced the convenience this brings continue to. We think these changes will accelerate the shift from offline to online or at the very least spur merchants to develop deeper omni channel strategies. COVID-19 also revealed cash to be an outdated technology. With cash purchases limited to prevent the spread of the virus, more people were forced to turn to alternative payment methods, including credit or debit cards to complete purchases. We see this trend continuing.
What advice and recommendations do you want to give future female entrepreneurs and thought leaders who are based in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region?
Build a strong network (I think women don’t do enough of this and certainly a lot less than men do), don’t be afraid to ask for help, lean on your truth sayers. It really does take a village to start a business, embrace that fact as opposed to shying away from it.