Meet Our Cover Queen For August: Jennifer Awirigwe, Founder, FinTribe.

Can you tell us about your journey and background in the financial industry? What inspired you to found FinTribe?

If someone asked you the kind of relationship you expect Accountants to have with money, you would probably say they are the Pro. If only! When it comes to dealing with corporate finances, we hold our own, but for personal finances, many people are just winging it. That was me back then, a trained Chartered Accountant, doing a brilliant work as the Treasury Accountant in a FMCGs compay, but my own personal finances was a mess. I have always loved money convos. In fact, my friends come to me when they want to brainstorm on money and business-related matters.

At a point, I said enough was enough. I need to do better with my own money. That one decision changed my life. I started learning things that would make better financially. It was at that period I made another important decision I am so grateful for, I decided to share my journey. I started writing about the little steps I was taking to better my finances. Interestingly, many women could relate, both with my money struggles and how I simplify the finance lessons without jargons. Little by little, we became a community on social media. That was the making of the Financial Jennifer brand, the women money Cheerleader.

It was at the time I made the switch from Accounting to Investment banking and became a certified Financial Educator. This even made me more equipped to guide others in their financial journey.

For many people, there is nothing you will tell them about managing their money better that they haven’t heard before. They just needed that push to jump into action. When I was still struggling with money, I belonged to a couple of communities that teach about finances, still I wasn’t taking action until I pushed myself. I decided to do same for other women. What if we came together to become one another’s Accountability partner, no more excuses for not saving and investing. Action women only, that was how FinTribe was born. A women only finance community. We are big on financial literacy, saving/investing together and being one another’s cheerleader. The goal is to build an army of more empowered African women who are intentional with their finances, leveraging the power of community. At the moment, we are over 5,000 women in over 25 countries, doing this money thing together. Looking at figures we have done so far, and the heart warming testimonials from our members on how FinTribe has impacted their lives and families, I just knew that, This is the IT!

As a Female African financial instructor, what unique perspectives or experiences do you bring to your role?

People wonder how I built a relatively large engaged audience in little time, I credit it to my simplicity and relatability. The ability to deliver key lesson in very simple and relatable fashion is a talent I wish for every Finance Instructor. Understanding your environment and speaking to your audience in the language they understand. 

Women are my focus. I understand the struggles of the everyday African woman, both self and societal imposed limitations. I have been through the phase of struggling with money. I am a trained Accountant and certified instructor, combined with my work in Investment industry. All these contribute to how I relate and impact people in my work.

What specific challenges or barriers have you faced building FinTribe, and how have you overcome them?

Over the years, women have been made to believe that they need not be that intentional with their finances, there is a husband/partner to take care of stuff. Then you come along and start to tell them that the indoctrination they received all these years is a lie, that everyone should be the CFO of their lives. Be ready to face challenges getting them to see your point of view. Thankfully, we know better now. And there are so many amazing finance teachers breaking down the mentality of women being the “Oriaku”

Something else that has been a challenge is Trust issues. Ahh, how do you convince someone that has been burnt in the past from Ponzi schemes to consider investments again. Or get someone that has had bad money experience with loved ones to come make money moves alongside other women. Partnering with credible institutions both as custodians and investment partners helped.

We know how powerful what we are building with FinTribe is, we expect challenges, they come, we have amazing women as community members, we remain resilient.

In your opinion, what are the most important financial skills or knowledge that individuals, particularly women, in Africa should possess to achieve financial empowerment?

It’s the simple things really. Always remove a portion of your income for savings/investment. Take time to understand the different investment options you can explore with this fund and take advantage. Money in the bank is idle money. Learn to send your money to work to build wealth for you through investing. It’s a simple formula, live below your means and invest the difference, consistently. Working with a budget helps with this. And if you can, engage a Financial expert for guidance. Think multiple income streams sis. One is usually not enough. To keep you accountable, a community like FinTribe will help you smash your financial goals. 

In your experience, what are some of the common misconceptions or myths about finance that you often encounter, and how do you address them?

Investing is for the Rich. No please. It’s for you and me. Yes, in my work as an Investment banker, I can tell you that Investing is the open secret for the Rich. That’s how they grow their wealth. Why not you too? There are investments you can make with as little as N5,000. In fact, most of the stocks in the Nigerian market cost less than N1,000 per unit.

Another popular one is that a good salary equals financial security. No sis! There are so many High Income-Low net worth individuals. They make good money but spend it all on bills and discretionary purchases. Someone that earns less than they do but saves and invests a portion of their earnings will definitely be the wealthier one. Earning good money is cool, but it’s not only a function of how much you make, but how well you manage and grow it. 

Can you share any success stories of individuals or groups that you have worked with, and how your financial instruction has positively impacted their lives?

In the FinTribe community, we have a testimonial session. Hundreds of women sharing how our guidance has impacted them. Most of them are shareholders in global companies. We have people who believed they are bad with money now saving like Pros. Women buying property, starting businesses. Stay at home mums becoming investment enthusiasts. Students making financial moves a regular working-class person could not. One of our student members recently got 2 properties in her name. Working class women building robust investment portfolios. The list goes on.

There is this drive that comes from being in the midst of other money minded women, the conversation is different, the energy is different. How can you slack with your financial goals when you have over 5,000 other women cheering you. We share some of our members stories on our Instagram page, you can read them here

What strategies or initiatives do you think can be implemented to improve financial literacy and inclusion, specifically for women in Africa?

Let’s start with dismantling some cultural restrictions on women that limit their earning potentials. Many African culture still see women only good as home makers. In Nigerian alone, financial exclusion for women stands at about 36% according to an EFInA Report. It’s about 245 for men. This is not a surprise when we still don’t value women’s education, some parents don’t invest that much in their daughter’s education, land ownership system that excludes women. And early marriage is still a thing. We need to make away with these gender issues. 

We need to do more on Financial literacy. This is key. Government and organizations should design programs targeting women on Financial education. FinTribe for one look forward to partnerships like this.  

What advice would you give to aspiring female financial professionals who are looking to make an impact in the industry?

We need more people preaching the finance gospel. One advice, keep it simple and relatable.

How do you prioritize self-care and maintain work-life balance in a demanding role as an Investment Banker and FinTribe Founder?

This made me laugh because I know I need to do more in striking a balance. Add the one on one sessions I offer, it can be a whole lot. For starters I outsource the things I can. I have a great team working with me at FinTribe. I continuously find more efficient ways to manage my role at work. Sleeping more and saying No to somethings and persons help a lot. This is a note to self and every woman out there, learn to rest and ask for help. ‘Sufferhead no dey pay.’


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