First Access is an award-winning fintech company that was founded by Nicole Van Der Tuin ’12 to offer a smart data platform for emerging market financial institutions


Company:
First Access
Location: Sub Saharan Africa

 

Why We Love First Access

First Access eases the ever-daunting credit decisioning process for financial institutions in Sub Saharan Africa.  First Access is a business to business (B2B) software company that uses technology to enable creditors to easily extend credit. First Access’ software digitizes the loan process and makes the process more efficient and affordable. It has saved borrowers over 300 years of "wait days" for credit.

Nicole'S Entrepreneurial Journey

While working for financial institutions in developing countries, Nicole saw first hand how difficult and slow the credit decision-making process was. As a result, individuals paid a high price for accessing small-size loans and the high cost of accessing credit was prohibitive. Nicole wanted to help in easing access to credit and started First Access while she was still a student at SIPA. Originally Nicole thought she wanted to be a writer. Although she has chosen a different path, Nicole believes that communication is one of the most important tools you can have as a CEO.  

Running a High Impact Business

First Access measures impact in terms of how well their software makes financial institutions more efficient and how it eases the credit approval process. For instance, reducing the number of days it takes to get a loan approved.

Nicole says that the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur is that there are so many unknowns. Even if you are clear about the problem you are trying to solve, it is not always clear how best to solve it and how you should uniquely approach the problem. Focusing on what is of highest priority requires a lot of diligence. Nicole says that the best part of being an entrepreneur is that she gets to choose whom you work with and build a team from scratch!

Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

If you want to be an entrepreneur, I strongly advise starting while you are still at SIPA. As students, you are able to both take risks and you don’t need to quit your full time job. Also remember that a columbia.edu email address gets a lot of people’s attention, so use it to your advantage! I also recommend that you become friends with other entrepreneurs and networking should be and remain a top priority!

Favorite PLACE on CamPus

East Asian Library

Learn more about First Access:

First Access


SIPA Entrepreneurs Changing the World