Many in STEM might not view Haiti as a hub for young talent or tech organizations. However, for Samantha Sosa, a Fintech & Banking Executive and tech thought-leader in Haiti, it’s the perfect place to create opportunities and build a successful career as a young woman.
Alongside her full-time role with AIC, she provides occasional training to incubators and universities in the country. She’s also a regular contributor to the prominent Haitian newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, covering the most pertinent issues in tech today. From analysing Blockchain applications to delivering Metaverse deep-dives, Samantha is a shining example of how a young woman can thrive in the STEM field.
Her induction to the industry was inspired during her studies in France. She completed her degree and masters in Lille and Nice. Through this, she had exposure to developing technologies as part of her banking and legal curriculum.
“I was always 100% focused on law and I always wanted to be a lawyer. But when I was exposed to disruptive technologies in the economic space, I thought it was really interesting. Especially, as a lot of the opportunities that tech could offer would be most impactful in developing countries such as Haiti.”
“I learned about blockchain, algorithmic trading, tokenomics, smart cities which represented an intersection between law and tech. Being able to apply my passion for law and my newly found inspiration in technology was an important moment for me. I knew what I wanted to do.”
From Banking to Tech
Following the completion of her masters, Samantha moved into an internship with a bank.
“It wasn’t for me! The bank was based in Monaco and I was part of the legal department there. As much as I enjoyed working with the team, I was working on things that were really standardized and set in stone. That wasn’t interesting to me. I wanted to learn about cutting-edge technology. I wanted to make significant changes to my place of work and community.”
“That is why I decided to move back to Haiti, even though everybody advised me against it.”
Samantha was able to secure a full-time position with a tech-focused insurance company in her home country. She immediately joined the executive management team at AIC, where she has spent the last couple of years. The role afforded her the opportunity to pursue innovation and help to drive digital transformation.
Using Tech to Help Communities
“While at AIC as a legal advisor, we worked to create new products that suit and help people in Haiti. We also pursued new opportunities with affiliated companies within the Group with a focus on technology and its impact on the quality and efficiency of our services. I connected to Teneo.ai through my research into Conversational AI, which is an area that we started to explore alongside a range of other next-gen technologies.”
Samantha’s role allowed her to follow her passions and advance in her career, showcasing the best of STEM.
By 2023, after aiding the Board for two years, BUH-AIC Group introduced two new subsidiaries. First, a Fintech, soon launching a product for unbanked Haitians. Second, an investment firm targeting investors seeking higher returns than the Bank’s current offerings. Samantha transitioned from her legal assistant position to become the Executive Director of the investment firm. Furthermore, she’s also a Coordinator of the fintech, pending their new product launch.
“I never thought I would be where I am today. But I followed my curiosity and had a clear goal when thinking about what I wanted to achieve. We spend more time working than anything else. Especially as a young person, you have to find something that you enjoy. Otherwise, you’re going to be miserable for most of the time you have!”
Setting New Standards for Women Tech
The disruptive force of technology has changed the world immeasurably over the past twenty years. To Samantha, the increasing rate of innovation represents a critical issue for women around the world to be aware of.
“Now, we have the power to create a better world on an individual and collective level and that is why we need to get as many women as we can into the STEM sector. The issue shouldn’t be seen as a ‘nice to have’ or simply a benefit that the industry can enjoy. This is a necessary action.”
“We have already seen how dangerous biases in Ai can be, so if we don’t get representation right at this point, at a relatively early stage of the Ai sector in particular, we’re not going to have the outcomes we want, such as greater gender equitable screening processes.”
The Importance of Supporting Women
For Samantha, the journey has been helped by the people that surrounded her while at university, especially the women who taught her about emerging technologies.
“I was surrounded by knowledgeable and inspiring women such as Professor Marina Teller, Director of the Deep Law for Tech (DL4T) Chair of Scientific Excellence in Economic Law and Artificial Intelligence. It is part of the Deep Tech movement. It responds, from a scientific and normative point of view, to the need for innovative ‘Legal Frameworks’ required by the emerging ‘Technological Frameworks’.
“So, I was very lucky to have role models I could learn from. I think that we need as many figures as possible in the STEM sector to help in the same way, to give opportunities and to advocate for others.”
Companies Need to Do More
“Unfortunately, I still get a few funny looks when I walk into a meeting and take the lead when discussing technology and its implementation, but within AIC I am extremely lucky as we have full parity across the organization with eight women and eight men sitting on the executive management team.”
An internal survey of AIC revealed that 64% of the business was made up of women, highlighting the positive initiative the organization has in relation to representation.
However, this is not a figure regularly reflected across the industry, highlighting the ongoing importance of International Women’s Day and initiatives to improve gender balance.
“The issue still exists after International Women’s Day is over, so we need to keep talking about it and put a spotlight on it every day. The industry has recognized an imbalance exists but we need to keep pushing and bringing more women in. Being part of projects such as AiAllies is a great way to help.”
For Samantha, though problems remain, the STEM sector represents the most exciting and opportunity driven industry for women to succeed within.
“You can construct your own path in this field. There is no limit on what you can achieve if you follow your curiosity with drive and passion. I loved technology and law and here I am, a few years after graduating university, in a role that would not have existed until recently. You can achieve what you want, you just need to have belief.”