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Meet the Women of the Blockchain: Mihriban Ersin Tekmen COO of Colendi

The underlying purpose of our company, is to improve the lives for billions of people outside financial industry. By giving people access…


The underlying purpose of our company, is to improve the lives for billions of people outside financial industry. By giving people access to credit scoring, those who were previously considered credit invisible or unscorable will have the ability to get loans, rent an apartment or buy a house as well as buy even simple necessities like food and toiletries. We’re very excited about what we’re doing and how this is impacting on a global level. This is about real people, not numbers. Defining a person according just financial history is not fair; real people can go through hard times but deserve the right for a second chance. This is what we will give them.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Mihriban Ersin Tekmen COO Colendi & Co-founder of Fintechtime. Mihriban, having worked in EU projects for developing countries has started her entrepreneurship for extending her previous works and founding a startup called Kadıngozu, which aimed to support women in business. After a couple of more startups she founded Fintechtime, a fintech focused printed magazine which is being published now since 2016 and also co-founded Colendi and is still the COO of Colendi. She has also started her TimeSummit Blockchain and Fintech event series as well as PayLab the fintech and blockchain accelerator program. Financial institutions and credit assessment systems have fallen short of the needs of today’s fast-moving, globalized world. Colendi aims to empower the billions of unbanked and underbanked citizens of the world by giving them a financial identity and equal financial access to banking systems all while keeping their personal information secure and under their complete control. Led by an experienced team with collectively dozens of years of work with underbanked populations in developing nations, the founding Colendi team understands this population’s needs and is uniquely positioned to deliver an inclusive tool that facilitates microfinance lending for this community.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

In 2013 we launched Ininal, “the bank for the unbanked” in Turkey. Our goal was to touch all of Turkey’s citizens with financial access. Our dreams grew and we wanted to respond to the seemingly insurmountable global need for access to the formal financial system.

Nearly 3 billion people worldwide are unbanked, meaning they don’t have a checking or savings account at all. In addition, only 42 percent of the banked population is considered eligible for lending by traditional assessment methods. Traditional finance, lending and credit models have proven outdated and inadequate in terms of serving this population. Through Colendi, we are addressing these long-standing inequalities with technology that brings the digital and accessible means of credit scoring to the entire world.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

We have several great partnerships in the works that we’re very excited about that will helps us accomplish our goals. Merchants will be becoming lenders through these partnerships. Additionally, we have plans to expand to the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific Region.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have to mention my co-founder in Ininal and Colendi, Bülent Tekmen, who is also my life partner. He is a serial entrepreneur and his vision and knowledge helped me a lot in all of my startups. I have to say that I admire his business skills.


What are the things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

● Blockchain is an incredible tool for giving safe and unrestricted access to formal financial systems to people who otherwise would not be able to access the financial system.

● Because of the decentralized structure of blockchain, the risk of data being compromised is dramatically reduced to near zero. This is especially important in the world of credit and finance, where numerous pieces of personal information are required to get an accurate picture of their financial position.

● Blockchain-based applications and cryptocurrency are easily accessible to people who may not have access to physical banks

What are the things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

● Government regulation has the potential to impact innovation in the sector. What’s critical is that leaders in the industry work with those lawmakers to ensure they have solid understanding of the benefits blockchain can offer.

● As the blockchain ecosystem evolves and different use cases emerge, organisations across industry sectors face a complex and controversial array of issues including individual or project scammers that are popping up to take advantage of the hype. This is unfortunately hurting the blockchain ecosystem and the overall impression people have.

● Blockchain will definitely cause some jobs to become obsolete, but the technology will also help to create many new jobs that we cannot even picture now. To align job seekers with the new jobs that will be created, the education system will need to evolve, to provide practical training for youth so they will be ready for this change.

● Like any new technology, there’s a learning curve for consumers at any level. We recognize this need and look to be a leading voice in educating businesses and consumers alike on the value we can deliver.

● Because the early movers in the sector have been primarily focused on currency, many don’t recognize that’s just a small part of the benefits that blockchain can deliver. In reality, this is actually more of an opportunity than anything else.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

That’s the underlying purpose of Colendi, to improve the lives for billions of people outside financial industry. By giving people access to credit scoring, those who were previously considered credit invisible or unscorable will have the ability to get loans, rent an apartment or buy a house as well as buy even simple necessities like food and toiletries. We’re very excited about what we’re doing and how this is impacting on a global level. This is about real people, not numbers. Defining a person according just financial history is not fair; real people can go through hard times but deserve the right for a second chance. This is what we will give them.

What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?

  • I have to say that my career was never my final goal. Having a successful career was just a side achievement while working towards my main goal. I believe that this made it easier for me to achieve what I have. I never had to race with someone and my focus was never a title.
  • One other factor, which may be more important than anything else, is passion. You have to be passionate about about your goals to find success. As with many things in life, not everyone you meet will always be your cheerleader and supportive of your dreams, but you have to find your motivation and drive from within.
  • Being an entrepreneur is more than a job: it is a lifestyle. Entrepreneurs dedicate themselves to solving a problem. Every obstacle is a potential startup for us, as there is always another way. There are many nights when I wake up in the middle of the night and start working because I came up with a new idea!


Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

There are many people I look up to, but I am lucky enough to have had the chance to meet with most of them. With so many events going on and with all the speakers in attendance, it is easy to get in touch with high profile people.

That being said, Justin Trudeau would be lovely to meet 🙂

Originally published at medium.com

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