Andrée Simon is the President and Chief Executive Officer of FINCA Impact Finance, a global provider of responsible financial services. FINCA’s network of 20 community-based banks offer responsible and affordable loan and saving products that empower low income women and men to take control of their financial future.
Previously, Ms. Simon served as VP and COO of FINCA International, returning to FINCA after serving for several years as President and COO of Women for Women International, a humanitarian organization dedicated to financial, educational, and interpersonal support of women survivors of war, poverty and injustice.
In 1984, founder John Hatch saw that lack of capital was keeping poor Bolivian farmers poor. Traditional loans were too large and too expensive, and without collateral, the farmers couldn’t borrow.
So he came up with an idea; if the farmers formed groups to share a loan and guarantee repayment, they could access the funds they needed to invest in their farming operations. It was the beginning of what we know today as microfinance.
In urban and rural areas, and in economies as diverse as Guatemala City and Kitunda, Tanzania, Village Banks allowed those with scarce resources to borrow, invest and grow their businesses. They also allowed women—who were routinely denied credit—to build enterprises that kept food on their tables and their children in school.
Remaining true to its original idea, FINCA has become a global network of secure, sustainable microfinance institutions and banks that help low-income families create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living across the world.
FINCA not only impacts the world through finance, they are also transforming their workforce internally to give employees a sense of purpose and ownership. They don’t try to compete with other companies based on perks, instead the compete in ethics and values.
“People come here because they know that they are going to be able to take on a lot of responsibility and get chances to take leadership opportunities that they might not be able to get if they were in a large kind of traditional commercial institution. It’s pretty entrepreneurial and it’s pretty creative for the most part,” Ms. Simon says.
She says people come to work for FINCA for 2 reasons, because they want to have a career where they can really learn a lot and because it is an organization focused on social impact, which is a strong motivator for a lot of people.
Some trends that Ms. Simon believes will be seen in the future are:
● A learning leader – Leaders will have to be willing to change themselves and have a learning mindset. This is balanced with the humility to know what you need to know
● Traditional organizations won’t work well; they need to be nimble to make decisions and share decision making responsibilities
● All work is global in some way, shape or form
● There needs to be a diverse workforce
What makes a leader successful?
● The need to want to learn.
● They don’t wear a ‘gorilla suit’ in the role of a leader
● The don’t feel the need to have all the answers
● They have an open sense of inquiry across the organization
What You Will Learn In This Episode:
● What FINCA is doing internally to transform their workforce and become more human
● How FINCA is allowing their employees to feel like part of the solution
● How any organization can have a meaningful social impact
● What is like to be a female CEO
● What is a CEO gorilla suit and why you should never wear one
● Where you can ‘meet’ some of FINCA’s clients
Links from the episode: