Can you tell us about Solape Akinpelu, who are you really?
My name is Solape Akinpelu. I am a wife, mother, entrepreneur, founder and author. I live in Lagos, Nigeria. I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mass communication/media studies. I am a certified financial education instructor and a member of the Personal Finance Speakers Association (US) and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK). I have over a decade of experience in marketing communications, particularly with financial brands.
Tell us your story with HerVest?
Indeed, in 2020, I left the corporate world to co-found HerVest, a women-focused fintech that provides targeted savings and impact investing opportunities. We also provide credit/loans to low-income women such as farmers and traders. I want to use technology to solve problems and bridge the digital gender divide.
HerVest’s mission is twofold: to improve the lives of women through access and use of financial services. This is important because although access is essential, use is not guaranteed. In the coming years, our roadmap is to expand our reach to more women farmers and SMEs across the African continent. Deepen our penetration to reach more black women who are ethical in their investments. Additionally, develop relevant products and services that meet the financial needs of women. We will achieve this through technological innovation and partnerships with other organizations to promote financial inclusion for women. Our central goal is to continually raise awareness of the financial gender gap in Africa and provide opportunities for women’s economic empowerment through our services, advocacy and training.
Tell us a little about your professional background?
As funny as it may sound, I started my entrepreneurial journey at 9 years old. I bought candy and cookies with my pocket money to sell at school
I am the Global Marketing Co-Chair of the global Women in Tech movement and Country Director of WIT Nigeria. I am also the Chairman of the Technology Department of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, which promotes technology trade and investment between Nigeria and Britain. I am a member of the High Level Presidential Advisory Committee to the Former President of Nigeria on the Economic Empowerment of Women and Girls. Additionally, I serve on the office of the CBN Gender Equality Committee on the framework to promote women’s financial inclusion. I previously served as Head of Marketing at Meristem, a leading investment and wealth management conglomerate in Nigeria. I am the author of the best-selling financial book Stripped: An African Woman’s Guide to Building Generational Wealth. I am a woman with many facets but who forms a distinct whole with the mission to make a difference.
How did you catch the entrepreneurship bug?
As funny as it may sound, I started my entrepreneurial journey at 9 years old. I bought candy and cookies with my pocket money to sell at school. Because I wanted my friends to patronize me instead of the woman down the street, I sold at a ridiculously low price. Of course, it wasn’t difficult to know that I wouldn’t maintain such a business, but I learned my first financial lesson: control your numbers. I carried this philosophy into my future ventures.
I once had a children’s boutique in Lagos while I was juggling my 9-5. This business grew into a larger company until I decided to focus on creating HerVest. During my university years, I sold shoes to women in the corporate world. I sold clothes. I even co-founded a marketing agency that still exists. I got my hands on just about everything because I was raised by an extremely hardworking woman who juggled multiple businesses and her job as a teacher. Even in the corporate world, I have always brought an intrapreneurial spirit to jobs. While working as a business leader at a wealth conglomerate, coupled with my past experiences marketing financial brands, I discovered that women were not the target recipients.