In this exclusive interview, CEO, Space Pointe, Sayu Abeng believed that there are women that are strong contributors in the workplace regardless of the cultural stereotypes put upon them. Excerpts.
How crucial is your role in the growth and development of FinTech in Nigeria?
Our goal as a FinTech player in Nigeria is to enable payment acceptance across multiple sectors. Federal and state governments and business owners use our platform to collect payments. We believe that is pretty crucial in the overall FinTech ecosystem.
What is your relationship with the FinTech industry? Are you a member of any industry group? Would you say the industry has welcomed you?
I believe that our success so far is due to a combination of our technology, market strategy and key business partnerships. I am a member of the Fintech1000+ which has been an invaluable experience.
Do you consider yourself a FemTech in FinTech?
My understanding of a FemTech is the technology that is used to solve issues for women. If that’s the definition used, then yes; in the sense that we have technology that is highly utilized by women, but while women (as business owners) benefit from our solutions, we are not strictly focused on just women.
Would you say working for a bank is different from working for a Fintech firm or a startup?
Most definitely. A FinTech firm or a startup is, of course, much smaller but more nimble with pushing solutions out to the market. The banks that are nimble typically have to form startups within their large organizations to get the nimble effect of a FinTech startup.
Kindly share the biggest issues women are facing in the workplace?
For the same position, men typically get paid more. This is not unique to Nigeria though but it is a clear demoralizing issue for women. Some issues faced, I believed, are also caused by the belief system of women. If a woman believes that she can never contribute as much as a man in the same role in the workplace, then that thought in it has become a career limitation for her.
There are women that are strong contributors in the workplace regardless of the cultural stereotypes put upon them. Once they are able to ignore and shake those stereotypes off, they typically are able to perform just as well or even better. This goes all the way from salary negotiation to setting your KPIs are work.
Would you say women are underrepresented at the top of the corporate ladder?
Oh yes. The numbers are definitely higher with men than women, but things are definitely changing with time.
How have you faced any gender-related obstacles in your career?
There are many assumptions to be made about obstacles faced in the workplace, but one cannot categorically state that it was induced by gender bias. I typically take the attitude of addressing issues and obstacles professionally by utilizing the proper channels and processes setup to handle such issues.
Managing work-life balance is a big deal now. How do you create a balance?
I am still learning. It is a constant struggle knowing when to switch off and get rest or spend time with family because work always appears to have every emergency one can imagine. But starting with setting up your core values helps: What matters most is not my company. My company is actually fourth place behind my relationship with God, my family and my health. Have I always succeeded in setting things up this way? Definitely not. But I am working on it every day.
How would you mentor women who are in your present position?
Never think of your gender as a limitation to your doing a great job. People who make the loudest noises are not necessarily the ones who are truly successful in the market. Don’t be intimidated with loud talkers. Focus on becoming a true commercial success with the critical mass-customers that adopt your solution because of the value you bring to them.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
As an innovator, there are 1000 ideas you could probably push into the market and so many possible partnership options. You must focus on the one thing that solves a problem while bringing in money and you must fully execute it before going in other directions. Entrepreneurs get excited about so many options for “possible” business, but that is what it is: Just an option. Until you execute and launch the product into the market and until it starts generating sustainable revenue, you have not truly succeeded.
Who do you admire most in the FemTech in FinTech space?
I am always watching and learning and consequently, I have a lot of women in technology that I admire and have gleaned from over the years. But I would not say that there is one in particular that stands heads and shoulders above the rest. There are certainly a lot of women doing so many fantastic things in the Fintech space that I greatly admire!