Friday Dec 11, 2015

"Imani: Banking4Good"

Heidi Stephens Metz

Strategy Consulting Imani

Scribe: Scott Hildebrand Introduced by: Alan Pratt

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Speaker Program

View The Slide Presentation on One Drive

Our speaker, Heidi Metz of Imani was introduced by Alan Pratt. Alan told the club that she had grown up on Mercy Ships and was born in Switzerland. She has a particular interest in the developing world.

Heidi shared her brainchild, Imani, with the club. The company is designed to address several of the issues in the developing world that have to do with cash, its safe storage, safe negotiation and the prevention of disease associated with cash transactions in the third world.

She explained that in many developing countries, most of the people don’t have bank accounts or direct deposit, so workers must carry cash when they get paid, exposing themselves to thieves and others who would take the cash or try to have the workers part with their cash in some other illegal manner.

Many bills are rife with disease and make those handling cash sick. It is a matter of course in these nations that the wealthy and others of status will retain cash handlers, lest they not be directly exposed to the handling of cash. Also, because cash has such dangers associated with it, many of those providing services will not ask for cash upon delivery, but will expect the customer to hold money until the provider of the services needs the money.

Because of the manifold dangers of keeping money, many in the third world have begun transacting on their mobile phones, which is a better solution than handling cash, but the phone payment systems are expensive and not entirely reliable because phone companies are not banks.

The solution crafted by Metz is Imani, which means trust in an African language. Her company will provide secure transactions at an expense of one percent instead of the 15 to 40 percent charged by the phone companies. The company claims its transactions are fraud proof and guaranteed in part because the transactions are pushed by the consumer, not pulled by the service provider. So far, banks have been enthusiastically backing the idea.

Metz expects the product to kick off in Africa and it will go global in six years. The company is driven by an advisory council that has experience in high-tech, banking and international business. It holds several patents and has eight more on the way.

She was presented with a certificate donating 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to Rotary First Harvest made possible by Traci Tenhulzen and Tenhulzen remodeling.

Club Business


President Paul called the meeting to order and reminded the club that the cost of the Anniversary Party would jump to $50 from $30 soon.

Scott Sadler offered a  prayer from John Wesley, “Do All The Good You Can” and led the club in the pledge of allegiance.

Wendi Fischer made introductions, which included no Rotarians, but two guests of Alan Pratt and our exchange student from France, Leonard.

The club recognized two students of the month, one for November and one for December, both from Sammamish High.

Student of the Month

The Student of the Month for November was Israel Martinez. Israel told the club about his involvement with Latino Heat, a Latino service club that does work with the Boys and Girls Club as well as elementary schools in the area. Israel said he had served as a mentor for many youngsters, which gave him great satisfaction. He excels at math and engineering and is hoping to attend the University of Washington to pursue his further education.

The Student of the Month for December, Banessa Gomez, has also been involved in a number of community service organizations where she has spent time with girls after school discussing and encouraging diversity. She plays basketball for the high school team and is hoping to attend UW, EWU or WWU next year.

Kindering Check Presentation

A check was presented to Kindering from the club’s proceeds from the 5k. Kindering accepted the check and told the club that the money would be used for its Autism programs and outreach to the community, including a Spanish-speaking outreach program.

Carmela led the club in an exercise in math.

Her purpose was to explain that members need to RSVP for their guests to several upcoming club events. She told the club that your willingness to tell the club whether you will or won’t be at an event will save the club money and heartache in determining how much food and space to allocate to you and your guests. She also reminded the club that the meeting on 1/8/16 will be offsite.

Several members of the club who are CPAs quizzed the club on a number of obscure and odd tax laws. The club was educated on horse racing losses, alcoholic beverages, human eggs and irish cows and the tax implications of each.

Thought for the Day

“Bank failures are caused by depositors who don’t deposit enough money to cover issues caused by mismanagement.”

About the Speaker

Heidi Stephens-Metz has two life-long passions:
• Addressing global issues to result in true, lasting, change.
• Technology-The cutting edge nerdy stuff that has the capacity to affect social change.

Her drive to make a difference began formulating as a young child, growing up in various developing countries with her family, as she is the daughter of the co-founders of Mercy Ships. She lived 10 years onboard the Anastasis—the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship that has operated in developing nations since 1978, impacting 2 million direct beneficiaries.

Heidi was born in Switzerland and lived in more than 60 countries before coming to the US for university. She received her MBA from Thunderbird, the #1 school in International Management where she met her husband Curtis. To develop the skills and expertise she required to fulfill her dreams of making a difference, she pursued a career in strategy consulting for technology-based, Fortune 100 companies. She has worked for over 18 years as a strategy consultant for Arthur Andersen and others, with some notable achievements:
• During the deregulation of California’s energy industry, she determined the calculations required to separate and track standard and green sources of energy and their billing options for California residents while meeting with both PG&E execs and California lawmakers and regulators on a weekly basis to gage progress.
• While living in London, where Heidi had the first of her three children, she managed the transition for Lloyds of London to move from traditional ledger accounting of their 300 independent insurance providers, to trading through an online, global portal.
• Upon moving to Seattle in 2006, Heidi was the COO of a startup online payments company. There she became friends with the person who would later become her chief technology officer, and help define a technology solution to address poverty.
• Shortly thereafter, Heidi began consulting for Microsoft, creating and leading a program with Ministers of Education in developing countries. She helped them define and articulate their national 3-year-plans for education, and then worked to create technology projects to meet those goals.

After 6 years with Microsoft, Curtis and Heidi left their jobs and took the family on an extended sabbatical. They spent time volunteering with Mercy Ships in Guinea, where they co-wrote and delivered a management training program for the 400 crew, and gave the entire family a renewed empathy for the poor, and a commitment to be the change they want to see. They settled into a small Spanish village for 3 months, sending the kids to local school, while they hiked and worked on their Spanish, and love of Spanish wine. While in Lima Peru for three months, they learned to surf and checked off one of Heidi’s Bucket List items, by visiting Machu Picchu. The last leg of their trip included traveling across the US in a trailer, visiting state and national parks and enjoying the vast and varied beauty, while sharing 300 sq feet, which wasn’t always as pretty.

Upon returning to Seattle Last year, Heidi returned to work at Microsoft, where she continues to advise every level of the organization on the strategy, planning, and the execution, of their corporate goals. She also began bringing the pieces together to marry her two passions, and created a mobile bank for the unbanked, called Imani, which means ‘trust’ in Swahili. Imani is a safe, inexpensive means for the 2.5B Unbanked to store and save their money. She now has a working prototype, is discussing potential partnerships in her pilot countries in Africa, and has begun to activitively fundraise to complete the technology system.