We present you in this new episode of Incofin’s series on inspiring women the Secretary General of the Chinese microfinance institution MicroCred, Bianca Lethanh. 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 started with an #InspiringWomen-series: we are introducing you to some of the most inspirational women Incofin works with. Women in leadership positions in often male-dominated contexts. 

Bianca Lethanh, Secretary General of MicroCred, China

Bianca has made a career in industries heavily dominated by men: engineering and finance. She encountered many situations where she was the only women at the table. “Of course you feel treated or assessed differently when you are the only woman and younger than the other people in the room. But you learn to get past it. Many women who have reached senior positions have experienced this. Learn to be self aware and be sure of what you know, your worth and your value. Keep your course and do your job. At least I feel that this has now changed for the better for women.”

When Bianca began her career 20 years ago full of ambition, she drew some inspiration in building her leadership from the models she saw from male leaders in civil engineering, the world in which she was active at the time, but she also looked for female examples in other industries. “I sought for access to women’s networks. There I found mentors who guided me on my path. It is so helpful to be able to tap into your own network, to have a sounding board to understand what you want to do, where you want to go, it is a resource to learn from your mistakes and put important lessons in your backpack.”

For Bianca, such networks where female leadership can be encouraged and further developed is crucial not only for women with professional ambitions, but at least as much for strengthening businesses and enriching society. For her, female leadership offers indispensable benefits. Female leadership can incorporate decision-making by consensus, collaborative thinking, power sharing and transparency.”


Raushan Kurbanaliyeva, Chair of Arnur Credit in Kazakhstan

Mrs. Raushan Kurbanaliyeva has many years of experience in the financial sector. For the last 15 years, she has been successfully managing one of the largest microfinance organisations in Kazakhstan.

She graduated from the Kazakh State Academy of Management with a degree in Economic and Social Planning. She obtained an MBA degree – Master of Business Administration at the Almaty Management University. She holds certificates as CAP, USAID / CAMFA II “Financial services for rural areas and agriculture”.

“To achieve success, a woman must set ambitious goals for herself and divide them into sub-goals for successful and consistent implementation. At the same time, it is very important that the goals are always in harmony with true desires, and then success is guaranteed. I, as a leader, and as a woman, in the implementation of certain goals, as a rule, pay great attention to the social orientation. So, it is very important for me to implement the social mission of our company – to promote the development of small businesses of clients, create new jobs, prevent over-crediting and increase in debt burden.”

Raushan also has a long experience as a member of the Board of Directors. She is a member of the Board of Directors in the Microfinance Association of Kazakhstan, an independent member of the Board of Directors at JSC Shardarinskaya WPP; and a member of the Board of Directors at MFIs in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

“Women leaders need constant self-improvement and development of competencies, maintaining a balance between family values ​​and business. Therefore, it is very important to be able to properly manage your time.”

Raushan herself is married and is the mother of three children.


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.”


Incofin Investment Management invests USD 2.1 million in the Ningxia Dongfang Huimin Microfinance Corp. Ltd (Huimin) equity through its agriculture-focused fund agRIF. As a shareholder, Incofin wants to support Huimin scale their financial services outreach to female smallholder farmers in Ningxia, one of the poorest provinces of China. Additionally, the Danish development financial institution IFU joined this round of capital increase and invested as well USD 2.1 million in Huimin.

The Ningxia region faces extreme aridity and barren soil. The harsh natural environment causes slow economic development and high poverty rates. In particular, rural women in Ningxia have historically been faced with a low social status and are often confined to their housework. Despite their challenges, they are eager to be respected and integrated into society – this is where Huimin came in. Founded in 1996, Huimin was originally set up as an NGO with the mission to reduce poverty by transforming the rural female population into economically active agents using microcredit. Targeting the poorest segment of the population, Huimin’s average loan size is only USD 3,500, about one-third of China’s GNI per capita. As Huimin grew in size and in professionalism, the conviction that sustainable impact is predicated on financial sustainability and good governance became increasingly convincing. In 2007, Huimin successfully transformed into a for-profit microcredit company, while keeping intact its commitment to rural poverty alleviation.

Huimin is among the leading institutions that adapted the Grameen lending methodology to service the Chinese rural demographic. Farmer families connect with each other to create a guarantee team, and these teams in turn form a village-level credit group. Over the years, Huimin has significantly expanded its scale of operation. Through its network of 11 branches and subsidiaries, Huimin now serves over 14,000 clients, all of whom are rural residents and of which 97% are female.

The success of Huimin stems from their holistic poverty alleviation and rural development strategy, which combines inclusive financial services with non-financial activities, such as workshops on agricultural techniques, anti-desertification initiatives and cultural activities to build female clients’ self-confidence.

Dina Pons, Partner at Incofin and Shareholder Representative of agRIF, said: “Huimin’s commitment to providing inclusive financial services and capacity building activities to low-income female farmers is well aligned with agRIF’s mandate. We are pleased to contribute to the sustainable growth of Huimin and to support its efforts in scaling its impactful work.”

Long Zhipu, Huimin’s Founder and Chairman, added: “We are really happy to have agRIF and IFU onboard. To us they are strategic partners who come with not only capital, but also a real understanding of the Huimin model and a plan to help Huimin adopt international microfinance best practices.”


Watch here the video about the work and mission of Huimin:

About Incofin IM

Incofin IM is an emerging markets focused independent impact investment manager focused on financial inclusion, the agri-food value chain and safe water. Driven by a desire to promote inclusive progress, Incofin strives to provide the support entrepreneurs’ need in order to improve to lives of the less privileged people. Incofin IM is an AIFM licensed fund manager, advising and managing more than EUR 1 billion of assets. Incofin has a team of more than 60 professionals spread over the headquarters in Belgium and 4 regional offices in Colombia, India, Kenya and Cambodia.


About agRIF

agRIF is a third generation (closed-end) fund that uses private equity structures to support investment for financial inclusion in the rural sector. agRIF specifically targets the agricultural sector and smallholder farmers as well as rural micro-entrepreneurs. In addition to the equity investments targeted by the fund, agRIF provides debt capital to agricultural SMEs and agriculture-focused financial intermediaries.