Somaliland-born CEO of major fintech firm to top Powerlist 2019
Ismail Ahmed, the founder and chairman of WorldRemit has been named the most influential black Briton
The Powerlist, now in its 13th year, has released its 2020 list of the most influential 100 people of African and African Caribbean heritage across all industries. Topping this list is Ismail Ahmed, CEO and founder of payment platform WorldRemit. In an interview with the BBC, Ahmed shared his story.
“I’ve always remained positive in the face of challenge as a migrant (...) if you take those challenges and are passionate about what you want to do, you're more likely to succeed.”
Ahmed grew up during the 80s in Somaliland during the civil war. He left in 1988 on a journey that took over a month before he arrived in London. During his first summer in the UK he went strawberry picking and held down several jobs in order to send money to his family back in East Africa. It was at this point that he realised the number of hurdles and challenges that come with sending international payments.
“I was determined to find a better way and I set up WorldRemit in 2010 with the mission of making it easier and faster for migrants to send money home,” said Ahmed. Following this he joined the UN and put together a business plan for WorldRemit.
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Today WorldRemit employs 700 people across 6 continents. The company places a particular emphasis on the diversity of its customer base, serving more than 30 nations from the London headquarters. All of this builds into the company’s core message: “we’re digitising the future of money transfers down to the last mile.” It has been awarded a vast number of awards and raised over US$375mn in debt and equity financing.
[infographic and images: WorldRemit]
For more information on all topics for FinTech, please take a look at the latest edition of FinTech Magazine.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.