'There is a lack of support for entrepreneurs of colour'
Valerie Moran is a leader in UK FinTech and the wealthiest black female in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
However the head of operations and client relations at Prepaid Financial Services is not satisfied as she surveys the “enormous” diversity gap.
Astonishingly, she is the only black female ever featured on the wealth list in the 31-edition history of the publication.
Valerie, who was born in Zimbabwe and later moved to the UK, is married to Noel Moran, CEO at London-based PFS. He is a two-time European Entrepreneur of the Year and European CEO of the Year.
Together, the husband-and-wife team own the UK's most consistently profitable FinTech.
Given the explosion in press coverage about Valerie in recent months since the list was released, she is on a mission to encourage more young girls and women of colour to enter the technology space in the UK and beyond.
"To be the first and only black woman is a complete shock and hard to comprehend,” she told BusinessCloud.
“Upon reflection, on many occasions I was the only woman in tech in the room over the years. Sometimes, the only black person in the room, male or female.
“The diversity gap is so enormous. It is certainly not a lack of ideas from people of colour - it's a lack of support.
“I hope to engage and encourage more aspiring entrepreneurs of colour. Starting from encouraging more girls in school to consider future careers in Technology. Education is key to bridging the gap."
PFS recently received its financial license in Ireland from the Central Bank of Ireland, in addition to its UK Licence, which it says means it is ‘fully Brexit-ready’.
Its clients include governments, NGOs, banks, challengers and thousands of corporates.
Valerie, whose father was a serial entrepreneur, originally wanted to set up a business in her native Zimbabwe, but market conditions in the country weren't ideal so she moved to the UK.
These days, she is closer than ever to realising her dream of being in business in Africa. The company is engaging with financial regulators across the continent in the hope of receiving licenses to operate in different jurisdictions.
"I saw the potential in Noel's idea: I believed in his idea so much I quit a good job to join him,” he explained.
“Today, I still believe in taking a leap of faith and taking a risk to move forward. We didn't have capital at the start and we were super stretched and doing several jobs each. We only recruited staff as we needed them.
“Thankfully, the business has grown to what it is today with our HQ on Regent Street and offices in Wilmslow, Ireland and Malta where we have moved into a brand new building on the FinTech-friendly island."
Does she feel pressure over being the only black woman on the list?
"I don't feel the pressure. For me, it is a recognition of our achievement,” she said.
“I will strive to continue to succeed regardless of the list. However, it has been a realisation about diversity to see how much work needs to be done in the UK. It is an important conversation to be a part of."
PFS says it is a majority women in tech employer in the UK and Ireland, with ratios far above the rest of the FinTech industry.