Introducing Barbara Iyayi

Barbara Iyayi is an experienced venture capital and growth equity investor, and entrepreneur with over 16 years’ experience in financial services, spanning venture capital, private equity, investment banking and technology. Barbara has founded, invested in, scaled and advised FinTech-enabled and financial services companies globally.

She is the Founding Managing Partner of Unicorn Growth Capital, a VC firm investing in the future of FinTech at the intersection of TradFi and DeFi. Unicorn Growth backs category leaders transforming the financial infrastructure of the digital economy. The fund is focused on companies at the Seed and Series A stages, scaling across Africa, building emerging FinTech & DeFi infrastructure and platforms driving embedded finance across industries.

Barbara serves on the Board of the Web Foundation, an international non-profit focused on digital equality, founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Rosemary Leith. Previously, she was the Board chair of Appzone, a FinTech infrastructure platform that automates banking services and enables the delivery of digital financial services in Africa.

She was also the Chief Growth Officer and Managing Director for Africa of Element, Inc – a pioneer of mobile deep learning (AI) operating in NYC, Africa and Southeast Asia and co-founded by Yann LeCun, Chief AI Scientist at Facebook and Turing Award Laureate; she scaled Element’s AI-powered digital identity software into Africa, partnering with financial service providers and FinTech companies.

Barbara was also part of the founding team of Atlas Mara, an LSE listed financial services platform co-founded by Bob Diamond, Ex-CEO of Barclays Bank, which was the first ever SPAC for Africa and entity to raise over $1bn to invest in, operate and manage financial institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. As the Regional Head for M&A & Investments, Barbara led acquisitions and investments in banks in 7 countries in Africa. She also led and pioneered the banking platform’s FinTech strategy and partnerships.

Prior to Atlas Mara, Barbara worked on global transactions of over $15bn at various financial institutions, including as Vice President, Investment Banking at JPMorgan, New York, where amongst other transactions, she led IPOs for Delphi Automative and Nord Anglia Education.

Before this, Barbara worked at UBS Investment Bank and JPMorgan Private Bank in New York. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Columbia University, and an MBA at Harvard Business School.

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