The world needs more women like Christina Hobbs, an innovative Australian quietly getting on with making our world a more equitable, sustainable place, through smart businesses.
At Alberts we know how important it is to back diverse founders and support equality. With only three per cent of Australian VC funding being invested in women-led businesses1, we are proud of the fact that 52 per cent of our portfolio have female founders.
In the spirit of celebrating pioneering women on International Women’s Day we are spotlighting Verve and the incredible powerhouse behind it.
Spotlight on Christina, co-founder and CEO of Verve
Co-founded in 2018, Verve is a superannuation fund and ethical investment app created by women, for women, that seeks to educate and empower women to take control of their finances. Ultimately it strives to close the 30 per cent super gap2
Verve is also Australia’s first superannuation fund for women.
Christina is a force to be reckoned with. Prior to co-founding Verve she worked for 10 years with the United Nations as a humanitarian financial inclusion expert, from designing women-focused micro-finance projects in Gaza to helping 1.3 million Syrians in Turkey register for humanitarian aid. Also an experienced board director in the super industry, Christina helped launch the first super fund that didn’t invest in fossil fuels. She is also a published author on gender equality.
Verve came about after Christina and her two female co-founders, Zoe Lamont and Alex Andrews became determined to address the super gap. “No-one was talking about the super gap so we wondered, how do we get this in the news? How do we get people talking about this?”
They soon realised no super funds were investing with a gender equality lens, so set about applying a gender equality index to the ASX 200 companies, ranking them on how they performed across a breadth of indicators such as female board members and parental leave policies.
When Verve launched they became the first super fund not to invest in companies without a woman on the board. “That was our driving impetus: to use the power of women, and [aligned] men to invest collectively to drive gender equality. We wanted ethical, trustworthy and supportive financial services for women, now.”
What started as a single product – Verve Super – is now expanding to include Verve Money, an investing app and ethical investment fund that can also be used for self-managed super funds. All members have free access to online sessions with a careers counsellor, financial planning coach, pay negotiator, even a divorce and separation coach.
Today Verve has 6,500 super fund members and a broader community of 25,000 people, including those on the waitlist for Verve Money.
“We’re about supporting women to build wealth, redefining what wealth means to them and using our money collectively to invest in a better world,” Christina says.
Which woman most inspires you? Shirley Colleen Smith (Mum Shirl), a Wiradjuri woman and founding member of the Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Housing Company, Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Aboriginal Children’s Service and Aboriginal Medical Service. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at the tent embassy as a small child, and I’ll never forget her, for opening my eyes to the lies that I was already being taught in school history classes.
What advice do you wish you’d received? Always do things you’re passionate about, because then you’ll do them well, and be able to find a way of making money.
How will you be spending IWD? We’re putting the emphasis back on what IWD