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As the Founder and CEO of microfinance company Tala, Shivani Siroya delivers credit to customers with little to no formal borrowing history—helping them start and expand small businesses. The company has disbursed more than one billion dollars to customers in East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, leading Forbes to name it one of the Top 50 FinTech companies in the world. Believing that financial visibility is crucial to living to our full potential, Siroya shows us why radical trust will be the currency of the future—and how we can leverage it to create a financial system that works for everyone.
Shivani Siroya is making her mark on the fintech world.Forbes
Billions of people in the world are underbanked and underserved. In an effort to help those in emerging markets build more stable financial futures, social entrepreneur Shivani Siroya founded her microfinance company Tala. Where banks saw risk, she saw opportunity. Using non-traditional data from people’s devices—texts, calls, app usage, and merchant transactions—Tala is able to verify identity, assess trustworthiness, and deliver instant, personalized credit. To date, more than 4 million customers have used Tala’s app to receive rudimentary financial services, like basic credit, savings, and insurance. The company has raised more than $110 million dollars in venture capital from investors such as PayPal, has an estimated revenue of $100 million (as of 2019), and a valuation nearing $800 million. Tala’s work has been highlighted by The New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and TED, among others.
Prior to founding Tala, Siroya worked as an analyst with United Nations Population Fund, holding over 3500 interviews to understand the financial capacity of thousands of microcredit users in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. “I got to walk in the shoes of our customers,” says Siroya, describing how the experience influenced her to start her own company. “I think that was a life-changing moment, but in addition to that, I began to viscerally believe in this customer and understand the problem.”
Siroya has also held a variety of positions in global health and investment banking, including with Health Net, Citigroup, and UBS. These combined experiences sparked the idea for Tala. Shivani is an Aspen Institute Finance Leader Fellow, a WEF Young Global Leader, Senior TED Fellow and Ashoka Fellow. She is also on the board of Stellar.org. She holds a M.P.H from Columbia University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.