Cynthia Wandia: A Kenyan Entrepreneur Who is Changing the Face of Finance
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Profiles - August 6, 2023

Cynthia Wandia: A Kenyan Entrepreneur Who is Changing the Face of Finance

Cynthia Wandia, the co-founder and CEO of Kwara Limited, has left an indelible imprint in the realm of African fintech with her groundbreaking work. As the head of a Kenya-based online and mobile banking platform catering to financial cooperatives, credit unions, and community banks, Wandia has been instrumental in revolutionizing access to financial services in Africa.

Cynthia Wandia, an engineering graduate from Yale University, possesses a deep understanding of the challenges surrounding financial services in her home country and across Africa. Witnessing the disparities in access to financial resources and the limitations faced by underserved communities, she became passionately dedicated to creating a level playing field where individuals, regardless of their background, could access the same opportunities for financial growth and prosperity.

How she started out

Cynthia’s journey to becoming a prominent figure in African fintech was shaped by her diverse international experiences and her drive for continuous growth and innovation. After graduating from Yale University, she joined Monterrey, Mexico, where she served as a business development consultant for Aceleradora de Empresas ITESM.

Following her time in Mexico, Cynthia relocated to Düsseldorf, Germany, to join E.ON, a leading global energy company. She participated in a trading qualification program within E.ON’s global commodities division.

Cynthia made a significant career move by co-founding Astra Innovations, an innovative company with a focus on the energy sector. Astra Innovations specializes in the acquisition and resale of closed gas-powered and hydroelectricity power plants. 

How she co-founded Kwara Limited

Cynthia Wandia founded Kwara Limited in 2013 with David Hwan. They saw an opportunity to use technology to make financial services more accessible and affordable for people in Africa.The platform provides their members with access to a variety of financial services, including account opening, deposits, withdrawals, transfers, bill payments, amongst others.

Wandia and Hwan raised Kwara $3 million in its seed extension and secured an exclusive digital solutions distribution agreement with the Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (KUSCCO). Through the partnership with KUSCCO, the national umbrella body for savings and credit cooperatives (saccos), Kwara got access to a vast network of over 4,000 saccos, expanding its banking-as-a-service offering.

In December 2021, Kwara initially raised $4 million in a seed round, enabling the development of a neo-bank app that facilitates individuals’ enrollment with their preferred credit unions to access a wide range of financial services.

Her focus on financial inclusion  

Wandia is a passionate advocate for financial inclusion. She believes that everyone should have access to financial services, regardless of their income or location. She is committed to using technology to make financial services more accessible and affordable for people in Africa.

Kwara’s innovative product transforms African savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) into modern digital banks. By leveraging their platform, Kwara empowers SACCO customers with convenient online and mobile banking services, the ability to establish trackable credit histories, and seamless access to a network of partner banks and ATMs. 

Advocate for women empowerment

Wandia is a role model for young women in Africa and around the world. She is a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and she is committed to using her platform to make a difference in the world. She actively uses her platform and influence to champion women’s empowerment initiatives. By sharing her experiences, insights, and expertise, she motivates and encourages young women to pursue their ambitions, overcome obstacles, and make their mark in their chosen fields.

Wandia’s notable achievements

She was ranked among the Top 40 Under 40 Women in Kenya by Business Daily Africa in 2018. Cynthia Wandia can speak five languages fluently such as, English language, Spanish, French, German and Mandarin

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