Exclusive: ‘Warrior for Women’ – Dr Vanise Zimmer, Elas in “Swashbucklers 2020”
Our next swashbuckler is nothing short of legendary. Dr Vanise Zimmer is not only a neo-bank founder, she’s also a life saver. With her app, Elas, Zimmer has been powerfully using fintech to transform the lives of women in Brazil, empowering them to make independent decisions with their money.
For levelling the playing field and improving the lives of many, we had to include the wonderful Dr Vanise Zimmer in our incredibly brave crew of Swashbucklers.
Empowering vulnerable women
Around the world, a staggering 42% of women have zero access to a bank. Zimmer has seen first-hand how damaging this can be. “I grew up in a very needy region in the interior of Brazil, and it was a great struggle to be able to study and become a qualified professional”, she explains. “Where and when I was raised, many women lived in a situation of violence because they depended economically on their husbands, partners and family to survive”.
When women don’t have access to banks, it’s dangerous. It prevents them from asserting their independence or having the option to leave abusive partners. The problem affected Zimmer profoundly. “This situation impacted me, mainly in the way of understanding the functioning of society, and thinking about gender relations”, she elaborates. “Now I always look at women’s lives and I think that few changes could make big differences, that if we think about how to create equity and promote services focused on their needs, we could make women’s lives much better”.
After dedicating years to studying, Zimmer founded a challenger bank, Elas. It’s a bank for women, by women. Of course, men are welcome to join. But (for once!) the product has not been built around them and their needs.
Elas gives women a way to deposit their cash into an account locally, guides them with their spending goals and encourages financial literacy. It’s been built entirely around the needs and lifestyles of its users. “Elasbank was not born with the objective of being a neobank – to be honest, we did not even have this in mind originally. We started with the idea of an ecosystem of solutions for women, and eventually started with the neobank when we perceived that financial independency is an important corner stone”, Zimmer explains.
What can we expect for the future?
Zimmer is far from done on her gallant quest to rescue the financial livelihoods of women. She’s homed in on how her customers generate and spend money and is building more tools to help them out.
The app is evolving to help these women earn more money, into a kind of marketplace. “ElasBank’s clients can sell and buy products from other clients for very low costs compared to general marketplaces”, Zimmer explained to us. “Steadily, we want to add more and more services for women. And, of course, we are preparing to extend our network of women beyond the virtual environment and create a foundation that promotes gender-based digital and financial inclusion through teaching and learning”. We’re so excited about this!
We love Zimmer’s strength and commitment to others. A modern-day Swashbuckler on a noble mission, Zimmer for president!