Incofin strives for more gender equality. First and foremost, because it is the right thing to do. And also because companies with a gender-balanced leadership outperform those that are less balanced.
That is why we start with an #InspiringWomen-series: over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to some of the most inspirational women Incofin works with. Women in leadership positions in often male-dominated contexts.
Roshaneh Zafar,Founder and Managing Director of Kashf Foundation in Pakistan
As CEO of Kashf Foundation, Roshaneh Zafar fights everyday to empower women entrepreneurs and helps them free themselves and their families from the stifling effect of poverty in a country where gender equality scores very low. Only 1 out of 4 women have a job in Pakistan.
Roshaneh stresses the importance of the context for gender equality. She feels she owes it largely to her liberal-minded parents that she was able to walk the path she did and that she was able to move after secondary school to the United States to study. “But most girls from my community stayed in Pakistan in that time, which was the beginning of the nineties. The parents of most of my friends didn’t allow them to continue to study. Many of them could have become excellent scientists, engineers, doctors or economists. They could have contributed to the solutions needed for the larger questions in life. They never got that chance. I am privileged and grateful for the chances I have been given.”
After finishing secondary school in Lahore, Roshaneh moved to the United States to attend the Business School in Wharton. She holds also a Master in Development Economics at Yale University. She started her career at the World Bank. After four years, she gave up the job to start something on her own. Inspired by Muhammed Yunus’ Grameen Bank, she founded Kashf.
Daisy Achieng, CFO of Yehu in Kenya
Daisy Achieng has been Yehu’s CFO in Kenya since 2020. Driven by her acuity for details and constant search for new knowledge to hone her expertise, she helped achieve Yehu financial sustainability by installing a remarkable financial discipline.
Daisy is a hardworking, talented woman with a plan. She started very early in her career as a leader. Great mentorship in school and later on, which she labeled as a sisterhood, supported her tremendously on her path. “Whenever I faced a challenge, I could always discuss it with people in my network”, she says.
She also stresses the importance of an open, supportive corporate culture that she finds at Yehu. Furthermore, a woman leader should focus on her self-awareness. “To succeed as a woman in a leadership role, you should develop a personal brand for yourself and establish guidelines that will help you achieve your goals. Building a personal brand requires self-awareness and integrity: self-awareness helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and work on them. Integrity focuses on your core values and how you relate to your work.”
This coupled with effective communication will help a leader build a personal brand and achieve the aspired goals. Integrity is an equally important guideline for Daisy.
Daisy is a certified public accountant and holds a degree in Commerce with a focus on Finance.
Fatou Dieng, the CFO Crédit Mutuel Sénégal (CMS).
Fatou Dieng has been the CFO of CMS Senegal for over a year now, after doing the same job for PAMECAS. She has more than 20 years of experience in the microfinance sector.
Although Fatou notes that in Senegal women are usually recognized for their capabilities, for example their multitasking skills, as a woman professionally, she often stood alone in a male-dominated environment. And yet successfully. After a Master in Audit, she started her career in 1998 as an accountant and climbed up rapidly. She held several management positions: Finance and Accounting Director, Audit Director in different types of organisations, ranging from a consulting firm, to financial cooperatives, and many others.
“My advice to women is to believe in themselves and in their capacities, and to work hard to achieve their goals. Women seeking leadership roles need to be confident, rigorous and resilient in their work. They should also guard independence in their decision-making.”