Inclusive fintech CEOs work in the most highly-regulated sector on earth. They have to hire talented teams, navigate opaque regulations, and work hard for funding. In addition to entrepreneurial challenges, they’re also trying to create impactful businesses that help build a financially inclusive world.

At the Inclusive Fintech Summit, leaders came together to discuss how we can drive financial inclusion.

That doesn’t overwhelm the founder-CEOs that we work with. Being in a room with roughly 50 of the most innovative fintech CEOs and company leaders at the Inclusive Fintech CEO Forum in The Hague was absolutely thrilling: they’re all working on a common mission and trying to bring new financial tools to people who need them.

Hosted by Accion Venture Lab, Quona Capital, and FMO, the Forum allowed CEOs to learn from one another: whatever a CEO’s top problem was, someone else there had solved it, thought about it, or, at the least, could commiserate about it.

More often than not, their conversations returned to basic issues like hiring staff, creating an effective corporate culture, overcoming adversity, or engaging customers. These issues are more important today than ever before: by understanding peoples’ behavior, needs, and goals, we can use technology to provide more customers with better, faster, cheaper, and safer financial products and services. Knowing our customers is the only way to develop a scalable, sustainable, and impactful company — and building those companies is how we’ll create a financially inclusive world.

Our CEOs’ energy and passion were inspiring; I’m still impressed by some of the highlights from their conversations:

It’s all about people – not technology

Companies everywhere are wrestling with how to use technology to achieve scale and efficiency while meeting customers’ preferences for human touch. Being well-informed about and responsive to your customers is the only way to come up with appropriate solutions:

Tips for hiring teams in emerging markets

Hiring is the only challenge that gets more difficult with time: as roles become more complex and as an organization takes on more work, hiring the right candidates becomes harder and inhibits companies’ ability to scale.

This is a challenge for startups everywhere — but it’s particularly pronounced in emerging markets, where top talent can be difficult to recruit and retain. Here are some of the ways our CEOs address this:

Corporate culture results from CEOs’ choices and behavior

CEOs’ actions and choices have an outsized role in creating corporate culture.

High-performing organizations have great corporate culture: it gives them a competitive advantage.

CEOs’ actions and choices have an outsized role in creating corporate culture; the values they exhibit and the behaviors they reward shape an organization’s character:

How to help your team get through a crisis

One session on overcoming adversity resonated with many in the room. Founder-CEOs routinely face any number of crises; professionally, there’s nothing harder than trying to lead your team through a major challenge.

But it’s something that every entrepreneur needs to be prepared for. And while there’s no one way to overcome adversity, CEOs did reflect on a few measures that helped:

By focusing on our users and understanding their needs, behaviors, and goals, we’re more likely to create valuable financial products and services. And by building teams that know their end clients, founder-CEOs can create impactful and successful companies.

That’s easier said than done. But after meeting and speaking with so many extraordinary people who are all working so hard to pursue a common vision and change the world, I’m more optimistic than ever about our chances.

Many thanks to CGAP, Catalyst Fund, Triodos, Citi Inclusive Finance, Mastercard Foundation, and Community Investment Management for helping to convene the Inclusive Fintech CEO Forum.

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