iwoca, one of Europe’s fastest growing small business lenders, is delighted to announce that Seema Desai has been named chief operations officer (COO). Seema joins a small but growing number of women at C-suite level in the fintech industry.
As COO, Seema will scale the exceptional customer service that has helped propel iwoca to the status of fastest growing business lender in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 . A passionate advocate of equal opportunities, she will also continue to lead iwoca’s efforts to achieve greater diversity and inclusion across the fintech industry.
A survey of 245 fintech companies operating in the UK, carried out between February and May 2017 by EY and Innovate Finance on behalf of the Treasury, found that women account for just 17% of senior executives in the industry. Currently, 38% of iwoca senior executives are women. In the UK as a whole, women make up 47% of the workforce, but only fill 14.4% of all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations.
Seema joined iwoca in January 2017 as head of people, developing iwoca’s talent and organisational capabilities. Prior to joining iwoca, Seema led the development of the Innovative Finance ISA at peer-to-peer lender Zopa as head of product. Prior to that, she helped members to drive financial inclusion in emerging markets at GSMA, the trade body of mobile network operators, before which she gained experience in traditional banking as head of retail savings Products at Halifax and Bank of Scotland (HBOS).
Christoph Rieche, CEO and co-founder, iwoca said: “Seema has been an exceptional hire for iwoca, working tirelessly over the last 18 months to tackle the painful organisational challenges that beset hyper growth scale-ups like us. She has helped iwoca overcome these hurdles by fostering a mindful and motivated culture that enables the high performance essential for achieving our dream to fund a million small businesses. She's smart, humble and passionate. As COO, I need her to continue to move mountains to unlock access to finance for small businesses across Europe.”
Seema Desai, COO and head of people, iwoca said: “I’m proud to be part of iwoca’s mission to help small businesses thrive and I’m excited to play a greater role in what’s possible for our team going forward. Since I arrived at iwoca two years ago, I’ve seen what a tremendous difference the personal service provided by our expert customer success team makes for small business owners, empowering them to get the capital they need to achieve their full potential. There’s still a lot more work to do and I’m thrilled to have my new role in that journey.”
iwoca provides loans of up to £200,000 to small and micro businesses across the UK, Germany and Poland via its website and through partner integrations using its proprietary Lending API. With the use of award-winning technology, iwoca aims to unlock economic growth in Europe by breaking down the barriers that make it difficult for Europe’s 20 million small businesses to access finance.