#SheMeansBusiness Q&A with Akoni CEO & Co-Founder Felicia Meyerowitz Singh
incluFelicia recently took part in the #SheMeansBusiness campaign, speaking at one of the #SheMeansBusiness sessions. The event brought together a collection of inspiring and insightful stories from women who mean business.
#SheMeansBusiness is a space for entrepreneurial women to make valuable connections, share advice and move forward, together.
Q1. For those who don’t know, tell us a little bit more about the #SheMeansBusiness campaign and why you were keen to take part
A1. When I received the invite to participate in the campaign, I knew I had to! #SheMeansBusiness was created to help unrepresented entrepreneurs on their business journey by sharing inspirational stories. If supported correctly, female entrepreneurs could add £250bn to the UK economy. In order to maximise this opportunity, cash management knowledge is essential. As an experienced female entrepreneur I understand the pain of cash management, with cash being lifeblood to all companies. Helping other women is important to me as I have support from some incredible and enterprising women. As an example of value - Did you know that every year in the UK, businesses and consumers lose £10bn of interest income from not managing their cash adequately. The widespread cash management issues could be drastically reduced with education about the many cash management solutions available.
Q2. What are some of the key observations you took from the #SheMeansBusiness session?
A2. Many women do not have the confidence to become entrepreneurs due to the lack of support available. This seems to be a recurring theme when analysing the core reasons as to why there are so few female entrepreneurs and leaders. #SheMeansBusiness has the opportunity to provide great education and insight into not only financial solutions, but the type of mindset that is needed to combat the stereotypes and navigate the rocky terrain of holding a senior position. There are many inspirational stories from strong women, sharing their learnings, as well as simple and productive tools that we can use to manage the dynamic nature of our cash and business on a daily basis.
Q3. What does diversity mean to you and why is it so essential in the workplace?
A3. Diversity is very important in the workplace as it reflects the world we live in! Having worked in many different countries, I can say that diversity in all forms truly benefits both productivity and the economic turnover of a business. As CEO of Akoni, I am dedicated to addressing gender issues and achieving positive change for women in both the finance and technology fields. I also think it is important to create communities and networks, leveraging the depth of relationships to help other female entrepreneurs and myself and a friend started Hive founders. We are a group of female founders/businesswomen and share knowledge, resources and funding network as well as hold events, personalising support. It is free to join and we are always looking for women who want to engage! I have even been featured in Forbes for normalising female leadership!
Q4. Tell us about how you, as a leader, ensure diversity in the workplace.
A4. As the CEO of Akoni, I believe in equal opportunities in the workspace. Akoni promotes various initiatives internally, and believes strongly in the network effect within the broader tech/financial services community, in addition to the broader entrepreneurial community. These initiatives include:
- Corporate Commitments: Akoni has committed to maintaining a minimum gender balance within the firm’s employees through the Tech Charter. Additionally, Akoni also restates this commitment in any grant funding applications and actively pursues a gender balanced recruitment approach, including review of recruitment wording etc.
- Internal promotions: Mentoring young women in business, from those in professional careers, to young women who aim to be - these activities cover a range of public initiatives including speaking relating to Innovate Finance’s Schools and Girls initiatives [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqCZPjrSf-c]
- Startup Hub promotions: Actively promoting women in business with Hambro Perks, a startup hub which directly engages entrepreneurs and is featured in https://www.newsandinsights.hambroperks.com/, currently an active role model for younger team members, and as a way to actively encourage young girls and women to enter into the tech and startup space.
We also consider diversity beyond simply gender diversity but to ensure we have representation across multiple minorities. This for us drives creativity and innovation, and improves our customer solutions.