Shivani Siroya founded Tala in 2011, a Southern California-based fintech startup, when she learned that only 30 percent of the world’s nearly 8 billion people are covered by a credit bureau. Siroya was working as a UN analyst in Africa and Asia when she noticed small business owners didn’t have access to credit. The situation was so dire that in some cases Siroya lent her own money.
Tala developed an Android app that gives instant credit scores to people in markets like Kenya, Tanzania and the Philippines. The credit score is based on behavioral data and daily-life data from their smartphones. Tala also is a lender, granting loans between $10 and $500 to a mobile wallet or other payment methods. It has provided over $700 million in microloans. Rather than compounding interest, Tala charges a one-time fee that can be as low as 5 percent depending on a borrower’s risk profile. Loans have an average interest rate of 11 percent, and a 90 percent repayment rate.
Siroya observed in an interview with Forbes last year: “It (lack of credit) made me realize that there are billions of people around the world who are not even seen and don’t even have an identity. That felt really wrong.”
Today, Tala is one of the fastest growing fintech companies in the world having raised over $105 million in funding from such firms as Revolution Growth, PayPal, IVP, Lowercase Capital and Female Founders Fund. With a potential customer base of three billion people, Tala is just getting started.
“Tala’s primary advantage today is our brand trust and our commitment to the customer. Our mission drives us to put the customer first and to constantly iterate and innovate. We have researchers in each of our markets to keep us honest and make sure we’re designing and building from the customer up. We’ve been doing this from the beginning — the idea for Tala was born out of those 3500 interviews I did — and our longevity and depth in our markets gives us an advantage over newer players,” Siroya told Female Founders Fund in a segment published on Medium last year.
Shivani Siroya will join the HBS Club to share her inspiring story and talk about the nature of finance and disrupting the industry.
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Founder of CEO of Tala
Shivani Siroya is the founder and CEO of Tala. Tala’s mission is to expand access to financial products to the emerging middle class globally. Millions of people have received access to credit and other services through Tala’s smartphone app. Tala is currently operating across East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. Tala is backed by leading venture investors including PayPal, Revolution, IVP, Ribbit Capital, and Lowercase Capital. In 2018, Forbes named Tala as one of the top 50 FinTech companies in the world, and Tala’s work has been highlighted by the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, TED, and TechCrunch, among others. Tala is headquartered in Santa Monica with additional offices in Nairobi, Manila, Dar Es Salaam, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
Prior to founding Tala, Shivani held a variety of positions in global health, microfinance, and investment banking, including with the United Nations Population Fund, Health Net, Citigroup and UBS. In October 2018, Melinda Gates nominated Siroya as one of 25 WIRED Icons globally based on her vision to change global financial systems and her execution of that vision thus far. Shivani is an Aspen Institute Finance Leader Fellow, a WEF Young Global Leader, Senior TED Fellow and Ashoka Fellow. She is also on the board of Stellar.org. She holds a MPH from Columbia University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.
Senior Reporter, Business Insider
Shana Lebowitz is a strategy reporter for Business Insider. Before joining Business Insider in April 2015, she covered mental health for Greatist and personal finance for LearnVest. Shana studied English and psychology at Brandeis University and received her master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University.
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