Entrepreneurs are driven by passion but mostly lack the capital power that is essential for starting a business. Most female entrepreneurs face more obstacles while raising capital for their ventures, and there comes Marina Diaz Ibarra. Through her company, Gentera, she is helping these leaders, especially women, to build their dreams.
She is running this holding company that has 31 years of operations in Mexico and Peru. She is a member of the board of Gentera and other companies throughout America. Her venture is a purpose-driven organization with an ideology to convert clients’ dreams into reality. It offers financial services that result in financial inclusion with human awareness. It attends to people at the base of the pyramid through a complete portfolio of microfinance services that aim to help them transform their lives, generating shared value. As a successful female leader, Marina empowers women and takes pride in assisting her clients, of which 90% are female. The main differentiator that separates Gentera and its competitors is its approach, a human-centric one that focuses on delivering top-notch services to its clients. She asserts, “The goal is financial inclusion, contribute to a world with more opportunities for everyone, especially women.”
A Girl from Buenos Aires
Marina was born and raised in Buenos Aires and had a strong desire to make a name for herself in the business world. She completed her bachelor’s degree in economics from Di Tella University and her MBA from The Wharton School—University of Pennsylvania, with a major in marketing and strategic management. In the past two decades, she has worked as a global manager for top brands such as Dove (Unilever), Nike, and Under Armour. In 2015, she took the role of General Manager of Mercadolibre.com, also referred to as the Amazon of Latin America. In 2017, she decided to enter the entrepreneurial world with Wolox, a digital disruption company dedicated to creating innovative digital products and assisting businesses in accelerating their digital transformation (later sold to Accenture in 2021). After exiting from her previous venture, she decided to work on impact investing and help entrepreneurs generate value and create jobs across the region. She currently serves as a board member of public companies such as Rotoplas and Gentera and represents the IFC (World Bank) on the boards of several portfolio companies. She is a member of the Board of directors of a Nasdaq-listed company, Agilethought. Marina currently splits time between Mexico and Boston, where she writes, invests in early-stage start-ups, and performs research on digital economics, carbon reduction, and D&I. She has recently published ‘A World Without Bosses,’ a book about her experiences in the corporate world. She has also been a keynote speaker at Georgetown, Cornell, and Columbia University. She wanted to find a company or venture where she could make a real impact by leveraging her tech experience to drive social change. Earlier, she was approached with multiple board offers, but was drawn to Gentera because of the social impact it would create in the market. She projects that in the next 10 years, humans will face the two defining challenges of our era: income inequality and global warming. She believes that a board seat is a place where one can make an impactful difference quickly on both fronts. It has offered Marina the opportunity to voice the challenges of the stakeholders that are not normally heard, such as women residing at the base of the pyramid.
Advocating for Diversity
The toughest challenge Marina ever faced while creating her business, as well as in her professional life, has been navigating a successful career as a woman within Latin America’s ever-present chauvinist culture. She has worked to address these challenges head-on, pointing out situations when they are affecting the dynamics of a room without getting angry or taking it as a personal attack. She believes hidden biases still exist and are in the corners of business infrastructure. She states that people operating around you are not immune to the messages they have been receiving since they were born. Creating consciousness around these scenarios and being a peaceful advocate for diversity and inclusion has been a great challenge as well as an opportunity. The challenges have been a blessing in disguise because they have made her stronger and more prepared for a variety of scenarios.
At Gentera, Marina and her team take care of the capital needs of millions of women across the region. The group is focused on delivering financial services with a human touch and compassion. Throughout its subsidiaries, it has built a sound and long-lasting relationship with clients, empowering them, and resulting in a positive social impact in the region, with more than 3.4 million people attending. Moreover, it has built a complete ecosystem of enterprises with a complete, convenient, and simple portfolio that addresses the needs of the underserved segment. Through her immense knowledge of business, she predicts that women will manage 55% of total global wealth by 2030, up from only 15% in the year 2015. She claims this is a revolution, with all the metrics continuing to point in that direction. She believes that working and supporting a space of inclusion is no longer optional; in every industry, D&I is not good to attain and it’s a must-have to stay in business. Genera has a direct relationship with around 3 million underserved women across the region. She highlights, “The fact that it isn’t intrinsically a human-centered organization is the basis of its success.”
Investing in technology
The monetary asset lending business is competitive, and Marina is attempting innovative tactics to stay ahead in the markets. She is heavily investing in technology to improve the scalability of the business and help the clients more effectively. Gentera is currently developing more lending-oriented technology services to get closer to their customers and keep democratizing access to capital. She believes that technology and access to reliable high-speed internet will provide more opportunities to support the under-serviced population. If the government takes measures to harness them, these revolutionary steps possess the ability to propagate the economy. However, the potential inability to execute in an efficient manner could potentially hinder the growth rate of most developing economies and the financial inclusion of millions of people.
Gentera is experiencing a fast-paced digital transformation. Marina mentions that creating products for the base of the pyramid that are easily accessible, adopted, and can operate in less-than-ideal infrastructure environments is a complex challenge. She further states the statistics that nearly 32% of people in Latin America have no internet access, but this should not restrict them from lending and banking services.
Taking the Right Decisions
Marina firmly believes in passion as a decisive factor in attaining success. Passion allows one to direct their energy and deeply connect with their inner truth. To prevail, a leader must create their own trail. By taking risks and overcoming uncomfortable situations, one can pave their path to success. She encourages women to pursue their passion in business and take every opportunity presented to them. She comprehends the challenges that one may face along the way and advises them to accept any support that is offered to them. She feels proud to offer such support to aspiring women leaders through her inspiring work in the business sphere.