Tessa Wijaya on being a lady in tech, developing a unicorn

Tessa Wijaya on being a woman in tech, building a unicorn

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Tessa Wijaya explains herself as “a unicorn among unicorns among unicorns.”

As an Indonesian female running a $1 billion monetary innovation start-up in Southeast Asia, she is a rather unusual type.

Women leaders in tech are unusual. This is specifically real in fintech, where they hold 7% of management positions. But Wijaya stated she is hoping that will alter by revealing more females and women they can follow the course less taken a trip.

“I really do want to encourage more women to be in tech,” the millennial business owner informed CNBC Make It.

A $1 billion female creator

Wijaya is the co-founder and chief operations officer of Xendit, an Indonesian fintech platform that processes digital payments for services in Southeast Asia, like Grab, Wise and Traveloka.

Since introducing in 2015, Xendit has actually proliferated. Today, it processes more than 65 million deals worth $6.5 billion every year. It reached the $1 billion “unicorn” status in September.

It was an enormous obstacle … how do I stay up to date with these individuals?

Tessa Wijaya

co-founder and COO, Xendit

To Wijaya, nevertheless, success still feels foreign.

“The unlikelihood of someone like me — a woman born and raised in a small town in Indonesia — becoming a co-founder in a tech company invested in by billion dollar funds, does not escape me,” she stated.

Finding her feet in financing

As a girl maturing in Indonesia, Wijaya stated she was “strange,” choosing to have fun with G.I. Joe action figures instead of dolls.

But she was enthusiastic too, motivated by the granny who raised her and her cousins, while running a little food service.

In her early 20 s, Wijaya talked to for an expert task at a brand-new personal equity fund inJakarta Though she had no conventional financing experience, her vital thinking and decision impressed the business, and she protected the task. She studied the market beyond work hours to construct her understanding.

As an Indonesian female leading a $1 billion monetary innovation start-up, Tessa Wijaya explains herself as a “unicorn among unicorns among unicorns.”


Still, the journey wasn’t simple.

As among just a couple of females on the group, Wijaya had a hard time to be heard. She didn’t have a degree from Harvard or MIT, like a number of her coworkers. The basic supervisor of among the fund’s business would merely overlook her when she spoke, she stated.

“For me, it was a massive challenge… how do I keep up with these people? I had no Ivy League degree,” statedWijaya “I looked really young, too. To be taken seriously when you look young and you’re a women is really hard.”

Identifying an increasing pattern

Yet, she was undeterred. Wijaya aspired to contribute in Southeast Asia’s progressing service scene.

Working carefully with emerging start-ups in the personal equity area, she saw the area’s fast increase of innovation in the early 2010 s. But she likewise saw a missing out on link.

“You have ride hailing, you have e-commerce,” statedWijaya “They’re nothing without the payments.”

I’ve been provided the terrific chance to alter how the office acts, so more females can go up.

Tessa Wijaya

co-founder and COO, Xendit

In a stroke of luck, Wijaya was presented to a group of trainees from the University of California, Berkeley who were dealing with a comparable job through start-up accelerator Y Combinator.

“It was work love at first sight,” stated Wijaya.

The group instantly started dealing with a brand-new payments platform, that would later on end up being Xendit.

Encouraging more females in fintech

Six years on, the creators and their group of 600 procedure online payments, run markets and handle financial resources for services in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and beyond.

Of Xendit’s personnel, some 40% are females, according toWijaya She stated she sees assisting females advance in their professions as an individual obligation.

“I’ve been given the great opportunity to change how the workplace behaves, so more women can move up the ranks and be the next generation of leaders,” she stated.

Xendit does that by running “Women In Tech” mentorship plans for girls and women, providing go back to work plans for brand-new mothers, and offering meal shipments for working moms and dads throughout the pandemic.

Wijaya stated she hopes that additional assistance will make the distinction in motivating the next generation of female fintech experts to think they can be leaders too.

“Sometimes I think about where my grandmother would be if she had the opportunities given to me,” she stated. “I’d like to think she would also be right here. A COO and co-founder… a unicorn among unicorns among unicorns.”

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