Darlene Menzies

 
Darlene Menzies, Chief Executive Officer - Finfind

Darlene Menzies, Chief Executive Officer - Finfind

 
 

Can you give us a teaser of your talk?

The global SME credit gap exceeds $1 trillion, emerging markets represent a large portion of this finance need. SMEs are the backbone of developing countries, providing the majority of jobs and contributing significantly to economic growth. Solving the problem of access to finance for Africa’s missing middle represents a substantial market opportunity for those up for the challenge. I will be sharing our journey and learnings as South Africa’s leading online SME access to finance solution.

Solving the problem of access to finance for Africa’s missing middle represents a substantial market opportunity for those up for the challenge.

Tell us about what you are working on right now.

Solving the systemic challenges of SME access to finance at the BOP in order to significantly increase SME funding deal flow in Africa.

What is your background?

I spent the first 15 years of my career in corporate ICT employment in the banking sector, followed by 3 years of socio-economic development work in the non-profit sector in rural and peri-urban communities in South Africa. First-hand experience in these contrasting contexts was the catalyst for starting my first software company in 2004, recognising the role technology could play in delivering vital services to underserved and disenfranchised markets. I’ve since spent the last 15 years building tech businesses that develop innovative digital solutions to address gaps for the burgeoning SME market in Africa.

What should we look out for in the next 5 years?

The value of new technologies lies in their ability to revolutionise the way we solve big problems. The things that are important in our field in the coming years will include harnessing machine learning and alternative data sourcing to improve SME credit risk assessment and direct SME lending solutions using the blockchain as an alternative to bank loans, amongst others.

Who is doing good work in your field?

There are a number of people doing exciting things in our field. I am inspired by the big risk takers, impact entrepreneurs going after big problems rather than simply chasing money. When you solve big problems for big markets you inevitably make big money.

How do you hope Tulip will be different / better?

A conference that focuses on real world practice, not theory, really appeals to me. People at the coalface provide excellent insights and perspectives. I’m looking forward to meeting new people, hearing from the different practitioners, and learning about how they are harnessing new technologies to solve global challenges.

Where can people find you online?

Website

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