Katia Lang, CEO TFT speaks to fintech founders about their business vision and challenges in the world of fintech and blockchain
Katia: What led you to starting this company?
Lucia Gallardo, Founder & CEO, Emerge
Lucia: Emerge has been inevitable since I was 12 years old. I wasn’t sure what the company would look like, but I was sure I would one day become a social entrepreneur obsessed with addressing systemic exclusion. The company is the manifestation of my lived experiences – from having worked with Central American undocumented immigrants to working on trade relations missions between Latin America and North America and joining an early-stage AI focused mobile tech company, etc. It is also a reflection of the diversity of our team and all the experiences and passions for social good that they bring with them.
Katia: What is the main problem you’re trying to solve?
Lucia: Emerge is a humanitarian technology company that enables the more efficient, more humane, and more transparent movement of people, goods, and data around the world. We use emerging technologies to address the pressing challenges set forth by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Our solutions include: Homeward, an identity management and intelligent resettlement system for displaced populations; Theseus, a logistics solution to transparently track, trace and optimise the global movement of goods, while reducing waste and fostering fair economic opportunities; Trusted Voices, which creates an immutable chain of custody for the source material used in today’s news; and, Safe Haven, a disaster relief temporary net that works with international organizations to train, deploy and pay locally trained citizens in natural disaster prone countries in real-time after disaster strikes. In 2017, Emerge also published Leap, the world’s first report to track blockchain ecosystems in emerging markets. The 2018 version is forthcoming.
Katia: What is your vision behind the company? How is it going to change the world?
Lucia: Emerge’s impact strategy is a tripartite approach: (1) What we build – addressing pressing challenges in an innovative and collaborative manner, impacting lives across the board, embedding social impact at every level of our products. (2) How we build – revenue and impact grow together and our company is looking to be exemplary in its values, its relationships, its operations and in our financing etc. (3) Matching pace – it is incredibly important for us to not just enable access to new technologies for too often excluded populations, but also to ensure that access matches pace with its evolution in richer economies. Historically speaking, by the time most technology has been massively adopted in emerging or underdeveloped economies, it has already been upgraded in Western economies. That’s still exclusive. Matching pace is how we support and complement locally driven innovation. The impact of our company, our products, and the precedents we set are what will change the world.
Katia: Does it make any difference to be a female or male founder in Blockchain?
Lucia: Absolutely – it does. Women are contributing an incredible amount to this space and a lot of the most impactful/successful/tangible projects are driven or co-led by them. Unfortunately, we tend to fly too far under the radar. Most speaking roles (keynotes, panels, and otherwise) are still going to men. We also see male speakers remunerated much more often than female speakers. We see massive funding rounds going to male-dominated or even male-only teams. None of these trends are exclusive to blockchain but they are certainly concerning in a space promising decentralisation, inclusion, and more just economies. A wave of toxic “lambo culture” negatively impacted the way blockchain projects are viewed, both internally and externally, and many events have had instances of blatantly sexist social events and participants. These instances need to be called out by both women and male allies. I’m also confident that as more and more women continue to carry on as they have, we will reach an inevitable breaking point where our contributions to the space will be visible and undeniable. Organizations like CryptoChicks are also doing an excellent job at recruiting more women into the space. I look forward to the next couple of years on this front.
Katia: A piece of advice for women in tech.
Lucia: Mass adoption of blockchain-based products and services can only happen when what we build reflects the world and the people in it – and women make up half of that. We not only want you in tech, we need you in tech, whatever the skillset. We need technical talent, creative talent, user-focused talent, business development skills, operational strengths, and more. And blockchain has a low barrier to entry because it’s nascent – we’re all learning constantly. So my advice is this: dive right in and learn alongside us.