Jemi Jeng, the 358th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, became interested in the cause of female financial empowerment as a child.

Even at that young age, Jemi recognised the link between financial independence and personal independence.

Jemi has also had a long interest in entrepreneurship and social enterprise. So, in 2021, she founded Penny, which aims to revolutionise women’s money experiences, starting with homebuying.

Women outperform men academically, so, logically, they should also achieve better financial outcomes – but the opposite is the case. Partly, as Jemi explains, it’s because women tend to be less confident and more risk-averse than men. Also, women earn less than men, because they may take time off work for children or suffer from gender discrimination.

Penny is addressing that problem by helping women make better financial decisions, by providing them with practical education and connecting them with experts, such as mortgage brokers, buyer’s agents and financial advisers.

Jemi was born in Australia, was raised in Canada and then, after leaving school, worked as a secretariat member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children in Geneva. Jemi’s boss, who was Australian, persuaded her to return to her homeland, which is how she ended up studying law in Australia.

In the years since, Jemi has built a career in the public service, in policy and project roles. Penny is a passion project that she’s been building on the side.