Women’s World Banking Announces Inaugural Winner of the Fintech Innovation Challenge Female Founder Award

September 27, 2021

This award recognizes the growing leadership of women in fintech and their impact in advancing gender equality

NEW YORK — September 27, 2021 – Women’s World Banking today announced Alexa Varsavsky, CEO and head of product, and Isabel Oriol, COO and head of business development, at ADA Impacto, as the inaugural recipient of the Female Founder Award, launched this year as a new honor as part of its annual Fintech Innovation Challenge. Recognizing female leaders in the fast-growing financial technology sector, this award honors female founders whose organizations qualify for the Fintech Innovation Challenge, and who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in building an inclusive workplace and advancing women’s financial inclusion.

“We are thrilled to name Alexa Varsavsky and Isabel Oriol of ADA Impacto as the first-ever winners of the Female Founder Award. Through their mission-driven leadership, Alexa and Isabel are not only steering fintech innovation, but also paving the way for other female leaders in a predominantly male-dominated sector,” said Mary Ellen Iskenderian, the President & CEO of Women’s World Banking. “By spotlighting their entrepreneurial journey, accomplishments and challenges, we hope to provide an engaging and insightful learning opportunity for all women in fintech, both current and aspiring.”

ADA Impacto, co-founded by Alexa Varsavsky and Isabel Oriol, seeks to propel unbanked women in Mexico—and eventually all of Latin America—into the financial system through an alternative credit scoring process utilizing WhatsApp. Through a combination of bot-based technology and human connection, ADA Impacto collects information to develop a digital alternative credit score that allows women access to loans or financial services. ADA Impacto further empowers women via a virtual financial companion, providing financial education and emotional support, which in turn improves women’s credit scores.

FFA Winners social
Alexa Varsavsky & Isabel Oriol

Alexa Varsavsky and Isabel Oriol were selected from among four other women founder finalists: Rosalia Gitau, Bixie PTE Limited; Sofie Blakstad, hiveonline; Lucinda Revell, Boost Capital; and Kayee Au, Mosabi.

“While fintechs have emerged as game-changers in driving women’s financial inclusion, much work remains in terms of achieving gender equality within these institutions. Men continue to make up the vast majority of global fintech founders, leaving women underrepresented at just 7% of the total,” said Angélica Fuentes, Founder of Muvop and member of the Female Founder Award Jury. “That said, we are heartened by the impressive pool of candidates for the Female Founder Award, all of whom are at the forefront and future of inclusive fintech innovation. As they work to reshape the industry and close the gender gap, we look forward to their future success and contributions to industry inclusivity.”

In addition to Iskenderian and Fuentes, the distinguished Female Founder Award Jury included Carmen Busquets, co-founder and founding investor, Net-A-Porter; Carol Caruso, CEO and co-founder, Bloom Impact; Alison Davis, managing partner, Fifth Era; and Jennifer McFarlane, partner, Asterra Partners.

As the winners of the Female Founder Award, Alexa and Isabel will receive a 1:1 marketing and PR strategy consult with Anthemis, a leading fintech investment platform. Additionally, they will be featured in a fireside chat at the Fintech Innovation Challenge event, which will take place virtually on October 12.

The winners of the third annual Fintech Innovation Challenge will also be announced on October 12. For further information on the event, please visit the website.

The Making Finance Work for Women Fintech Innovation Challenge is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Leading Sponsor), Ernst & Young LLP (EY US and Advancing Sponsor) and Novi (Supporting Sponsor), with prizes provided by Visa Inc. and the NYU School of Professional Studies. Women’s World Banking’s core funders are Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Visa Foundation.


About Women’s World Banking

Women’s World Banking designs and invests in financial solutions, institutions, and policy environments in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities. With a global reach of 57 partners in 32 countries serving more than 69 million women clients, Women’s World Banking drives impact through its scalable, market-driven solutions; gender lens private equity fund; and leadership and diversity programs. To learn more about Women’s World Banking, visit womensworldbanking.org.


Conrad Jarzebowski
Director of Communications & Marketing

Chelsea Bennington
Digital Marketing & Engagement Specialist