The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is 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 feature various female leaders from across the world. One of them is Odunayo Eweniyi from Nigeria and is an expert in fintech and specifically in consumer savings and investments.
Odunayo Eweniyi is the co-founder & Chief Operations Officer, PiggyVest, the largest digital and investment platform in Nigeria. She previously co-founded pushcv.com, one of the largest job sites in Africa with the largest database of pre-screened candidates. She has 5 years’ experience in Business Analysis and Operations. She’s an award-winning fintech entrepreneur who is working for diversity equity and inclusion in fintech and technology as a whole.
Describe your career journey
The plan for my life was actually far different at the time I graduated. I was aiming to go for a Masters degree and become a researcher, and eventually a university professor. Yup. But after applying for jobs unsuccessfully, and having my friend (now co-founder) reach out to me to join a tech startup, the trajectory kind of changed.
So, I went from graduating in 2013, to founding PushCV in 2014 to launching four more startups and having them fail, to finally launching PiggyVest in 2016. What led me here? Gut instinct and the unshakeable belief that I could create something of value that made the space I occupied better than i met them.
As a recognized thought leader and a female, what difficulties have you faced in your career?
I’ve faced the same challenges many startup founders faced, mostly funding and customer acquisition. But similar to the people who’ve gone before us, putting the customer first, lean operations and keen, well-thought-out execution is how we’ve overcome those challenges.
Of course, I’ve also faced challenges being a woman in tech from the sexism, to micro-aggressions and just the unwelcoming environment because it’s male-dominated. Those used to happen but not as much anymore – but there’s still a ways to go in making tech welcoming for all women. But I handle it the same as always: bold and unwavering in my ambitions and refusing to cower to anyone.
What are the future trends and predictions you see happening in the region?
Mergers and acquisitions. I believe that M&As are very key to the growth and expansion of tech in the region. M&A deals will allow companies to consolidate their positions in their local regional markets, contributing to better market access and efficient competitiveness.
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?
There is no reason why it is not you who achieves those goals, and builds those companies and no reason why your ambition is out of reach. In 2013, I couldn’t have dreamt of the journey in front of me, but it happened. Ask the important questions. Who are you? Why do you need to do this? Once you have good answers to these questions, use them to fuel your journey. And it won’t be easy, but your “Why” always keeps your eyes on your goals.