RENEW Strategies

Women in Finance Roundtable

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Sandy Hung, CFA
| November 30, 2017

At RENEW, we truly believe that in order for an economy to be robust and its private sector to flourish, its finance industry needs to be enabled with strong decision-makers with diverse backgrounds and opinions. One aspect of this much-needed diversity is the presence of both male and female professionals who are empowered to think critically, plan and make decisions based on the numbers.

However, the reality in Ethiopia right now looks much different from what we hope to see. The finance industry lacks strong CFOs and aspiring female finance professionals often lack the skills and presence to move beyond basic bookkeeping. 

Here at RENEW, we have been asking ourselves, “What can we do to help women in finance build up their confidence and skillset to overcome the challenges in this ecosystem?”

On November 29, RENEW partnered up with Zemen Bank and hosted the Women in Finance Roundtable: How to communicate and influence decision making.  A diversified pool of 20 female participants from all corners of the finance industry attended, including: senior leaders and managers of private banks, medium and large corporations, and from the chamber of commerce, to name a few. 

Berhane Demissie, Managing Partner of Cepheus Capital, shared stories of her incredible journey to become the first female to own her own fund in Sub-Saharan Africa and generously answered everyone’s questions.

Her path has not been without a bigger-than-average dose of challenges. I truly found that the candidness, humbleness and passion with which she spoke about her beliefs and approach to a career in finance (and to life in general) very relatable and empowering.

Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the Roundtable:

  • Having a balanced life with pillars of friends, family, religion, work (or however that looks for you personally) is extremely important. All those pillars together are what gives you strength in the face of challenges.
  • We should not be ashamed of failing. The trick is never to get the same scar in the same place.
  • As a female, we have advantages. We can play to our instincts and to our strengths. We have a lot to offer, we just need to package it right and communicate it well to make it work for us. 
  • To achieve success in the industry, having the knowledge of the environment is equally important as knowledge of finance.
  • We all need an "I can do it!” attitude. Never lose sight of “I can do it” and never accept excuses.