As you may have read back in February, I’m actively involved in Hong Kong’s fintech scene. Although my job at a start-up didn’t work out last year, I’m now running fintech events and hope to launch my own company in the future.
When I attend fintech gatherings in Hong Kong, however, I usually see a lot of foreigners – most are Western men like me, the majority of whom are over 30.
It’s great that Hong Kong – like other global fintech hubs – is able to attract experienced international talent.
The problem isn’t the amount of of older Western men in the fintech industry – it’s the fact that we don’t have similar numbers of women, younger people, and Hong Kong nationals, for example.
Diversity is important because the fintech sector here is suffering from skills shortages and we need to extend the talent pool.
And it’s also critical because Hong Kong fintech firms serve a diverse range of customers, often across several Asian markets. So they need an equally broad range of ideas from their founders and employees.
Over the last few weeks I decided that rather than just complaining about diversity issues in Hong Kong fintech, I would try to play my small part in helping to address them.
I regularly organise fintech events at Metta, a Hong Kong entrepreneurs’ club and meeting space. And next month (date to be confirmed) I’m running a new one specifically for local and mainland Chinese fintech entrepreneurs under 30.
It will be a workshop where people can talk about their projects and exchange ideas. There’s a well-connected foreign fintech community in Hong Kong and I think local entrepreneurs need to be better connected to it and to each other.
About two weeks ago 20 female entrepreneurs and fintech leaders attended a women in fintech breakfast I ran at Metta – one of the first of its kind in Hong Kong.
Attendees agreed that it’s difficult to hire women into their teams as they typically don’t like going into start-ups. There are not enough women in technology full-stop and the ones that are in the industry need to be educated about job opportunities within fintech start-ups.
So I think we need more of these female-focused forums. And I’m planning another one soon, the TIB (technology, innovation and business) Cafe for Women in Tech, which I hope will serve as a basis for future ideas and initiatives.
I’m also involved in the Technovation Challenge, a competition sponsored by firms such as Google and Oracle, which invites teams of girls from across the globe to solve real-world problems through technology.
This is the first time girls from Hong Kong have taken part. I’ve been mentoring a group of high school students on a project designed to help domestic workers who’ve been abused.
When I was their age, technology to me meant playing Pokémon, but these girls are creating apps, building business models, and pitching in English on stage.
They are amazingly confident and have great problem-solving skills. Hong Kong fintech may not be so diverse now, but I’m optimistic about the future.
Medhy Souidi has a contract position at a bank in Hong Kong. He also speaks at and organises fintech events in the city.
Image credit: Medhy Souidi