Sahara Sparks and Omidyar Network call FinTechStage in Dar Es Salaam

After the great MozTech experience, Dar Es Salaam called for Sahara Sparks.
Second time in Tanzania this year and really impressed by how entrepreneurs community is growing.

As written in my previous post, FinTechStage has the firm intention to build the FinTech eco-system here.
We met the FinTech entrepreneurs and some VCs In a breakfast meeting organised with Omidyar Network. Tanzania being one of the focus country of the organisation.

The good news is that I believe we found the right Enablers onsite to move the dialogue on another level. The eco-system needs pre-series A investors, business angels and believe me the country is full of opportunities.
We had a great panel on Investment opportunities and in the afternoon a startup challenge for digital entrepreneurs.

FinTech sector need to be further developed, but the market is big and growing fast.
I hope I will be able to say more shortly, but it s very likely I will be back soon.

Special thanks to :

Jumanne and Maryam, relentless souls behind Sahara Sparks organisation and all their teams for being to instrumental in making this happen.

Dr Hassan Mshinda and Dr George Mulamula for being so open and helpful and to share what we can do together to help FinTech and Financial Inclusion locally.

Alisée and Pierre Alain, co-founders of Seedstars , with whom I hope we will collaborate more and more in the future, for sharing their network with us and being so open in collaborating.

Lilian Makoi a marvellous entrepreneur in the InsurTech space who s energy is inspiring.

My partner in crime and my dear friend Ameya, in charge of African investments at Omidyar Network, for sharing this whole adventure with me and bringing an invaluable brightness to the mix.

So… this happened in Tanzania and I am really looking forward to the next steps !

Stay tuned



2017 notes to self

It has been a while guys.


I promised myself to blog twice a month this year, but only if I have something interesting to share (at least to my judgement) : I am very tempted to start writing about something else than FinTech or at least balance that with something more engaging.
I will not spit on the plate I eat (free translation from Italian and if this expression does not exist it should) because Innovation in Financial Services is something I love, so maybe what becomes boring is that everyone seems entitled to grasp a bite of it.
And it is more and more difficult to separate substance from mindlessness (but I already blogged about that).


Building tribes has always been my passion and somehow my destiny : Italiansonline, then the SWIFT Community, then Innotribe, now FinTechStage.
My work at Omidyar Network has a lot to do with that as well. We actually added another component of the work in 2017 which specifically speak about Eco-system Development.
Someone would say “Is that even a thing ? Eco-system Development ?”
If you ask the majority of the FinTech, InsurTech, RegTech lists popping around like mushrooms, everyone will unanimously say “Hell yes !”, and possibly saying it is entirely or partially what they do.
If you ask large corporations, or financial institutions, or Insurance groups, or the Big10 Consulting companies, all of a sudden seems clear there is (more often than not) no such a figure. Most of the time there is someone doing that function, but his or her job title says something else and this role is not something he or she is measured on.
Most people do not understand that is not about you, is about the Tribe : you can write a book and have one million readers who bough your masterpiece, but you are not their leader, nor they are  your tribe. They might want a selfie with you, but you are not building the network. You are using it. The risk of it is that you become slave of your own novelty, because you need to keep finding reasons for these selfies continuing to happen.
Building eco-systems requires a depth and a selfless attitude and the business comes then naturally because no one is more valued that the kind of person who builds bridges.


I will become better at sharing what I learn and find the right context to amplify that.
This goes beyond FinTech and has to do with self development, lifestyle, entrepreneurship structuring, relationships.
I want to contribute, even if for a fraction of it, in helping people to become a better version of themselves. And I want to get the tools to do it.
More on this, but it has to do with depth (or the lack of it).
When all you can say about a person is the company he or she works for and eventually the job title because saying it implies which role he or she can have in helping you making more money, not only you are not owning that relationship, but you can’t count on it.
I want to surround myself with as many people as possible (no matter where they are physically) knowing each other as a person, not as a business entity. The only way to do this is to give them time, for free, with the sole purpose to open up reciprocally.


I will perfect Portuguese and explore Lisbon (my new home and the country with it), because I want to add another soul. In order to do that, I need to be more disciplined about my travel and get space for myself and my loved ones.
I have the serious intention to build 2 businesses in Portugal.
One related to FinTech and entrepreneurship (there is very little in this space, despite Portugal smartly took the Tech spotlight hosting WebSummit and making some amazing simplified company building initiatives for Start-ups).
The second initiative is to build on another passion I have : the real estate (which has overlap with the first one, because my very first  real estate investment could become a FinTech hub. I just need to find the right partners for it.


FinTechStage has to go deeper and vertical.
After Luxembourg (March 1st), the first FinTechStage Inclusion Forum will take place in Jakarta, March 22-24th, go to and have a look.
Then, 4-5 May, FinTechStage Milano doubles down with InsurTech. We partnered with probably the best connected person in the space, Matteo Carbone, so another Matteo joined the family and I really hope we will build many more events of this kind together.


Building Tribes for Omidyar Network is one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I want to help ON changing the world. This note is to remind myself to be grateful everyday for this opportunity.
If you read my blog that far without getting bored, you earned a free pass to come to Jakarta. reach out to me and will personally send you an invitation 🙂


Stay Tuned



Fintech Women – Batch Three

Let’s continue my sharing of the Fintech world, this time with the – not enough represented, in my opinion – list of Fintech Women I came across in my recent past.


This is a mix of Investors, Bankers, Entrepreneurs and (one) journalist, I could have added many PR experts, focusing on FinTech, but I rather choose not to, reason being the following people evolve in a typically male-crowded environment, and the only thought that comes to mind is that I would love to know more of them.

Claire Calmejane

Claire has one of the most lovely French accents with a perfect English. Beside trying to make English people pronouncing correctly her family name (‘Call me Jane’ is her last option, when it becomes too difficult), Claire is leading with the most open innovation approach the R&D and Innovation department of a very ‘traditional’ UK bank, way more involved in digital and forward thinking than anybody could suspect. We share the advisory board of Bootcamp, and when it comes to start-ups she knows stuff. A lot.


Mariela Atanassova, alias ‘sister’ (to me).

Innotribe co-founder, left SWIFT an year ago and – truly – on of the most brilliant minds I know. She has her moments, a very hard time to say ‘no’ to new engagements even if that means no sleep for few following nights, but she gets it so fast that I always forgive her, no matter what. She is also my impresario, meaning the prefect soundboard for new things. We now designed FinTechStage agenda together, in the middle of a dozen of other commitments she has. I have never introduced Mela to anybody and get a negative (even slightly) feedback.


Shivani Siroya

CEO and co-founder of Inventure, we met for the first time at Sibos last year and again in Money2020 in Vegas. The only representative of a start-up advising the Gates Foundation, extremely knowledgeable in Financial Inclusion matters, and very sharp. Deeply admire her mission and focus.


Roberta Profeta

Italian soul blended in a multi-cultural life, representing the innovation arm of the largest Italian bank in London. Very well connected and experienced in banking, and precious asset for any start-up who wants to deal with the bank she works for. Also in Bootcamp advisory board, not a tech-savvy (she says) but a business-driven mind, and – as well – a dear friend.


Leda Glyptis

Leda personifies the Greek energy with an English allure powered by an incredible fast brain. She is the innovation sparkle (I just introduced her this way in an email and loved it) of the UK operations of a very large US bank. Great start-up mentor, knows payments and securities inside out, and this not even begins to describe how compelling her business sense is.


Anna Irrera

Anna is the only journalist of this list, but impossible not to mention her when we talk about FinTech. She defines herself a Fintech Geek, since she interrupted her holidays for a day to attend a very important fintech event (ooops, sorry, secret revealed). I am amazed how quickly she became a point of reference in the investors, start-ups and banks eco-systems in such a short period of time. She is from Turin, and no Italian city suits her better: it s the home of the ‘coolness’ and the ‘silent forces’ in Italy, and she totally fits in


Jilliene Helman

Jilliene is CEO and founder of Realty Mogul. Must say, when I first met her pitching at Innotribe (one of the winners) I immediately spot her business sharpness and acumen, it s the kind of CEO you would want in any start-up, and rightly disrupting the real estate crowd-funding market. Great speaker, assertive, vocal, shameless, everything I love.


Melissa Guzy

I just met Melissa in Hong Kong, the only female founding partner of a Fintech Fund (whom I know of) , focussing on Asia-based start-ups. Silicon Valley mind, tons of companies vetted, fast mind, strong opinions, and I am sure (and I hope) we will do business together soon. Melissa’s global view of the Fintech start-up market is an invaluable asset for the Investors crowd.


Vanessa Colella

Vanessa is a key executive of the Venture arm of a global US bank, one of the first (if not THE first one) to build a proper Venture structure. I had the honour to sit in a panel with her at Sibos last year. What I love in a ‘banker’ like Vanessa is that she understands totally the world of start-ups (and beyond) and very effectively navigates between the strategic and the return aspect of the investments, which is the dilemma (or the dichotomy) of may bank-driven funds.


Samantha Ghiotti

Sam is the co-founder of Anthemis Edge, and it might be due to the Italian chromosomes but in the past two months only many people I get in touch to, in organizing FinTechStage, referred me to her. Samantha is a blended mix of entrepreneurship, strategic advisor and start-up mentor, with a great sense of where the money should go, when it comes to invest. Not to mention she has a great approach to life as well, carefully balancing her career with the family, and I really respect her for this. We stepped into each other in various cities already, and I am glad she is coming to Milan as well.


Duena Blomstrom

Duena is a Fintech entrepreneur, with many jobs at the same time, the main one as a CMO of Meniga, a well funded PFM start-up. Also in the board of several companies, NextBank conference agenda planner, and with no doubts very well connected in our world. She is a Misfit in the most glorious way, in this world.


Claire Cockerton

I have met Claire since her beginnings in Level39, when Innotribe became one of its first tenants. Claire is now heading one of the most visible London Fintech Initiatives, Innovate Finance, and very well connected to the several initiatives of the city with regards of this world



Let me know if you find valuable this sharing, especially done it in such an ‘informal’ way… again, this is not a ranking, is not a who’s who list, and it s done in the sole purpose of giving visibility to the people I think are moving and shaking the Fintech world as I see it.


If you want to take this opportunity to let me know who else I should (have) put in this post, feel free as well.


Stay Tuned