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  • Elsie Russell

FinTech Female Fridays: Charity Mhende, Brand and Communications Lead, Anthemis Group

Can you tell us about your role at Anthemis Group and how you have grown over the last four years?

I currently lead Brand and Communications at Anthemis. We're a venture capital firm investing in early stage technology businesses exclusively focused on financial services and its adjacencies. On a day to day basis, I oversee our brand-building efforts in the US and Europe, our public relations, communications strategy, and I support our portfolio companies in their marketing efforts. I joined as an intern back in 2016, and, over the last four years, I've had the opportunity to see the business grow from 30 investments to over 100.

Can you share your experience in enabling digital marketing strategy in financial services?

I think the major pain point for marketers right now is connecting people. Whether that's connecting investors to entrepreneurs or reaching new audiences in the ecosystem––that human-to-human connection you used to be able to create over a coffee or at a conference is difficult. We're seeing event producers become super innovative in their content generation. That means beyond a webinar, creating a lasting experience and touchpoints to build relationships, sending swag in advance, or running office hours to facilitate those exploratory meetings people used to have over coffee. Looking ahead, we will continue to see more innovation and creativity around connecting people throughout the rest of the year. I'm keen to see how people will strike a balance between remote-first and in-person offerings when it is safe. Because ultimately, people crave human interaction––in whatever form it may be.

How is Anthemis differentiating itself from its competitors?

At Anthemis, our founders wanted to build the Anthemis team to look like the world, not "tackle diversity later." This has required an intentional focus on hiring for gender, ethnic/racial, geographic, and cognitive diversity. Today, 52% of our employees are women compared to the VC industry average of 27% (Source: Diversity VC, 2019). 60% of the decision-makers on the investment team are women, compared to an industry average of 16%, and female founders represent 19% of our portfolio companies. While diversity has always been core to our culture and DNA at Anthemis, the work to do better will never stop. We recognize the role we can play in creating more transparency and building more accountability for transformation within the venture and startup communities.

Can you tell us about a success story of Anthemis helping startups and entrepreneurs solve their challenges?

Last year we launched the Female Innovators Lab in partnership with Barclays to support the pipeline of female entrepreneurial talent in financial services. Like everyone else, we had plans of events and programming we were going to roll out this year to support female entrepreneurs through the lab. As soon as Covid-19 hit, we had to pivot. We quickly noticed that in a remote-first world, female founders were less connected to the investment community. In a recent survey conducted by 500 Startups, 56% of female founders said they were still fundraising during the pandemic. Two-thirds believed they would be disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis and would receive less funding as a result. Connections with potential investors and mentorship were identified as the primary resources women founders were seeking during this time.

We hosted a Female Founder Office Hours event, which gathered 100+ investors and entrepreneurs across the US virtually. We partnered with Diversity VC, Ladies Who Launch and fellow investors in the industry focused on various sectors to ensure that we did our part in joining the dots between the entrepreneur community and investors. We hosted 52 hours of mentorship and support during the event and 30 hours of 1:1 mentorship from Anthemis post-event through the event.

Reach out to Charity on LinkedIn.

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