Meet GES Delegate: Stephanie Hodgson

Name: Stephanie Hodgson

Country of origin: Australia

Organization name: Kanopi

Organization website: kanopi.asia

Brief description of organization: Kanopi is social technology company based in Jakarta. Our mission is to provide the software, hardware and training to enable microfinance institutions to reach the unbanked. Our technology enables efficient and transparent management of financial data specifically for Indonesia. Our core banking system is linked to a mobile app and biometric scanner which allows safe, quick, automated transactions to take place in the field. This will strengthen savings practices of low-income populations and help them build their wealth.

What inspired you to start this organization? I was inspired to start this organisation after learning that Indonesia has poor financial inclusion compared to other countries in the region. In Indonesia, 73% of adults do not have a savings account. When faced with lump-sum payment requirements or unexpected financial pressure, such as a health emergency or loss of work, the working poor need financial savings to prevent a fall into further poverty. I wanted to prove that Kanopi could innovate a well designed microsavings program that suits the needs of the unbanked.

What is the next big step you hope to help your organization reach?

I would like to see Kanopi working with many more microfinance institutions in Indonesia by expanding the basic functionality of saving cash to more sophisticated financial services. In particular, customers would be able to purchase insurance, obtain credit scores and loans, and make digital payments. If this model is proven in Indonesia, we would like to expand it to other geographies where financial inclusion is low.

What has been your biggest obstacle as an entrepreneur? My biggest obstacle has been learning about an unfamiliar and emerging market. When I arrived in Indonesia, it was important for me to overcome this obstacle by meeting many different people who are involved with Indonesian microfinance and banking — the regulators, the NGOs, the banks, the microfinance institutions, and most of all, the unbanked people. Learning about Indonesia, and specifically Indonesia’s unbanked, has been integral to developing our products and bringing them to market — and it has also been an enjoyable learning experience.

What advice would you give other emerging entrepreneurs? Don’t let your formal qualifications and experience scare you away from opportunities. I have a background in health sciences — not finance or technology! Find something you are interested in and follow it!