7 Disruptive Women in Business

With women making up 43% of entrepreneurs worldwide, the world of business has been transformed by innovative women. Expert Market is celebrating International Women’s Day this year by highlighting women who have dared to step outside the norms, comfort zones, and limits to achieve their dreams.

According to a study, businesses with women executives are 30% more likely to outperform competitors. This is even more impressive considering the struggles they face in the workplace, from a gender pay gap to a potential career stagnation if they decide to hybrid work. This is why we’ve put together a list of women we consider to be disruptors in business, who are making waves in male-dominated industries. They have overcome barriers of race, class, gender, and age, giving these women the coveted title of a disruptor.

We hope this list inspires you to go on and continue to disrupt the status quo.

Suneera Madhani; Founder and CEO; Stax

Suneera’s idea for a simple, all-in-one system for SMBs was rejected by her male bosses at her job at a payments company. However, she persevered and built Fattmerchant on her  own in 2014.

Now called Stax, Suneera’s company is valued at over $1 billion, the valuation announcement occurring on March 8 2022, which also coincides with International Women’s Day.

Speaking to Forbes, Suneera says, “Representation matters, and when you see other people that are like you who are successful, breaking glass ceilings and changing industries, you’re bound to see more in the future.”

Ritu Narayan; CEO and cofounder; Zum 

Rita founded Zum, an on-demand ride and childcare service, after she found herself struggling to juggle her tech career in Silicon Valley as well as childcare and transportation for her two children. A spark of an idea saw Ritu leave her job at eBay and attend Stanford Business School to refine her plan.

Rita avoided calling her idea the “Uber of childcare” simply because she found the model of Uber unsustainable. Instead, Ritu focused on cultivating a culture of trust, empathy, and innovation. Zum claims to have a unique business model, not based on transactions but rather on building strong relationships with users and providers.

Zum provides affordable, energy efficient solutions for child transportation, currently serving over 4,000 schools and districts. In 2022, Zum was valued at around $1 billion. 

Alina Krehovets; CEO and founder; Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence helps business owners make data-driven decisions,  including building marketing strategies, business plans, and digital innovations that are backed by data.

Prior to founding Business Intelligence, Alina worked in management consulting at one of the Big 4 consulting firms. Alina says that Business Intelligence doesn’t just provide data, but rather offers its clients genuine value. 

In 2022 alone, Business Intelligence carried out over 100 successful projects. 

Loretta Markevics; Founder; Sed Communications

Sed Communications is a female-run communications agency for startups that was founded by Loretta Markevics, who has around 20 years of experience in the global communications world. She has launched and built well-known, reputable brands, including Samsung, Gillete, and McDonald’s.

Impressed by the innovation and bold attitudes of startups, and foreseeing the inevitable boom in these kinds of businesses due to the pandemic, Loretta founded Sed Communications.

Its business model is virtual, flexible, and provides scales for a range of budgets. Speaking to Medium about creating a successful startup, Loretta says that the three character traits that are most instrumental to her success are honesty, empathy, and optimism.

Ali Turner; founder and CEO of a SaaS company

Ali is the founder of an online coaching company and Satva.io, an all-in-one business growth platform for entrepreneurs. She says, “Personal experience has been more nuanced. I’ve seen many male business owners and entrepreneurs shrug off our services, simply because they found out that I’m the founder and CEO. Others are kind and impressed, and go on to become clients.”

She advises women in tech (and entrepreneurship in general) to never give up, no matter how much rejection, judgement, or prejudice they face. “There is absolutely, fundamentally, no reason you cannot succeed in this industry based on your gender. There are only people who feel threatened by your ability and potential.

Ali has also found that leaning into her femininity has been vital in her success. Don’t lose your feminine energy in the process of building your business. When starting out and working primarily with men, I lost a part of myself that was tough to find later on. Once I balanced the “right brain,” feminine energy of giving and service with the “left brain,” masculine energy for systemizing, structure, and massive action, I moved our company forward more than I ever had before.

Shuo Wang; Cofounder; Deel

Shuo began as a robotics student at MIT and went on to be the co-founder of Deel, a hiring and payroll solution currently valued at $12 billion.

The idea behind Deel was to create a payment platform for global talents to receive payment automatically. It is currently used by international brands, including Shopify and Nike.

With the Covid-19 pandemic rapidly expanding the need for Deel, Wang and her business partner, Alex Bouaziz, were able to scale rapidly as it followed a path of innovation by accepting crypto as a payment currency.

Nada Ali Redha; CEO; Plim

Nada is a pioneering entrepreneur, Fintech expert, and international business woman. She has chaired a number of SMEs to success and is now making her mark in the FinTech industry with her newest venture, Plim, an interest-free “Buy Now, Pay Later” credit service.

We spoke to Nada about her experience and she says, “Overcoming stereotypes is one of the biggest barriers for women professionals in the tech industry. In a male-dominated industry, for a long time, women have not often been considered or given opportunities in tech. However, this is slowly improving, with a long way to go. The more leading women in the industry can prove this wrong, the easier it will be and the quicker the shift will take place. It’s refreshing, inspiring, and motivating to see women succeed in this sector against the odds.”

Nada’s recommendation to overcome the obstacles women face in the tech industry is to start with schooling. 

She says, “Women are not often encouraged to pursue a career in tech and, with limited role models within the industry, it can be hard to encourage or motivate from the offset. We need to remove stereotypes of CTOs and developers, we need to promote more women within the industry who are excelling in their roles within the field. We also need to have more incentives in job security and packages for women in tech. As a woman in the industry, I admire other women that are trailblazing in this male-dominated industry as we can lead by example. The responsibility for gender equality lies with everyone and, with improvements and changes, I believe that it can eventually be achieved.”

This list is just a glimpse into the powerhouses that are making big waves in the business world. If you’d like to nominate any female disruptors you know, or consider yourself one, reach out to us for a chance to be features in future articles.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.