What I do at Stitch is almost like building a puzzle. We’ve created a bunch of different puzzle pieces that fit together to solve a problem. Often that problem is specific to the clients we serve, but it can also be generally about how we can enable money to be moved more easily from one place to another.
My job is to help design and build these puzzle pieces. Sometimes they’re weirdly shaped and need to fit together to solve a new, complex problem. There might be pieces we’ve never seen before – and that’s where my job is really fun. There’s a lot of creativity involved in colouring certain pieces and making them fit together.
Stitch is so unique because there’s nothing really like us in the South African market. More broadly, in Africa, we’ve inherited this backlog of financial services that we didn’t necessarily build or want. As a result, we don’t have the ability to talk to each other or translate between different financial infrastructures.
Once we’ve achieved our goal, we should have a world where access to financial services is democratised and agnostic of the type of money you use.
The people. I’m so fortunate to come to work every day and be surrounded by talented people who are extremely motivated towards this mission of making it easier to engage with financial services. Selfishly, it’s been the biggest learning experience in my career. Being able to be in this environment and feeling like a change-maker in this process – from a year ago to now – is something I wouldn’t change for the world.
Our LinkPay product. Looking back, Stitch was so much earlier when we started building it. Having seen LinkPay grow and morph to handle all the different use cases it does today, and to have it become a cornerstone of the Stitch product offering, is really exciting. To have been a part of it is a great source of personal pride because there was a lot of creativity that went into it, and the whole process was so much fun.
Personally, one of the passion projects I’m working on that’s still in its infancy is building a mentorship programme for young women in engineering.
This came about when one of our technical talent recruiters asked me to share the details of any women engineers with over six years of experience in the field, and I realised that I couldn’t really think of anyone. My housemate, who’s also a software engineer, felt the same way, so it’s likely a common problem.
If someone’s coming from a different engineering background, like electrical engineering, for example, it’s really difficult to understand the expectations of a software engineering role.
The problem is inherent across genders, but for women, it’s hard to know who to get advice from or just have a connection to bounce ideas off of. As a result, it’s easy to end up in a job that doesn’t suit you – as I’ve often seen happen to peers at the start of their careers. I think it’s important to have access to someone who’s been there and has gone through what you’re experiencing.
The sheer quality of the people that Stitch has been able to attract makes it a really exciting place to work. I think South Africa, or even Africa generally, is underrated in terms of the quality of our engineering talent. Because of the motivation behind Stitch and our mission, a lot of people with experience at other fintechs or startups are drawn to Stitch. That’s exciting because they come with experience around what it means to actually build a successful tech company, especially in Africa, which I think is a very specific problem.
On the continent, people have a completely different range of devices or types of access, which means we need to cater for more than other markets might need to. We also don’t really have predecessors – we’ve got examples from other markets who’ve had to come up with solutions to similar problems, but they don’t necessarily solve the same problems. We don’t really have companies ahead of us in Africa that we can ‘copy’, so in some ways, we’re reinventing the wheel. To be working on that and to be in this space is really exciting.
Learn more about Carla and the Stitch engineering team here: