Youth and teenagers need to be allowed to understand what they don’t understand.

SOMETHING I’M REALLY PROUD OF: YAGA, the queer festival I co-founded. TWO TRUTHS ABOUT ME AND A LIE: I’m a musician a swimmer and an ex-prisoner. SOMEONE I ADMIRE: Bjork. IF I WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND AND COULD TAKE 3 THINGS: Endless water, food and some music.

Sophie Secaf

Putting teenagers in charge of their own financial literacy

BLENDING HER BACKGROUND INTO SOMETHING BIGGER. Sophie Secaf believes every generation has their struggles, but for Generation Z, not traditionally having a grasp of the digital economy is a leading one. “This generation is already so plugged up into very pragmatic and dynamic issues; politics, the climate crisis, social justice, but when it comes to the idea of money and modern economies, they get excluded, which is ironic because they are digital natives, and tech savvy. Their education and experience needs to start far sooner... Everything Z1 does is from the focus of how to make a teenager’s life better, no matter if it’s about education or the building blocks of basic financial literacy and the digital landscape. They can’t be better if they don’t know better.”

One of the Co-Founders and Chief Marketing Officer for Z1, a Brazilian-based digital banking and credit platform for teens, Sophie is well versed in this dynamic subject matter. Having studied politics and sociology at The University of Edinburgh, and a professional background in cultural research and generational studies, she was actually brought on to Z1 because of her insights and expertise. “I was contracted to do some research for them about teen financial behaviors and I just really understood what they were doing and got along well with the team. Soon after they asked me to join as a co-founder and I jumped at the opportunity.” She explains.

CHANGING THE LANDSCAPE, ADVANCING THE LEXICON. Born in San Paulo, Brazil, Sophie has had a wealth of global experiences between college, her freelance consulting work and her background in the arts. But her background in sociology has always been the true center of everything she touched.

“I love the study of social issues and problems. Not just for big brands with key demographic problems, but broadly. In fact, my work has even led to new language, having worked with a couple friends on a report where we coined the term “normcore” [a style of dressing that involves the deliberate choice of unremarkable or unfashionable casual clothes] that was a runner-up for the Oxford Word of the Year.” She laughs.

As a Latinx lesbian woman, the inclusion of diversity is always top of mind with Sophie and her work and leadership. “The financial landscape is heavily dominated by men, white men, privileged men. As a company in Brazil, the topic of diversity is always talked about but handled carefully. Especially the LGBTQ side of the conversation.”

Because as Sophie points out, Brazil is internationally, famously known for its socio and political aggression against the LGBTQ community; especially the T part. “Trans people, women especially, are killed at an alarming rate. So what we do as a company, has to be inclusive. We have to face that reality and market and build our company with inclusiveness at the center of our work. To help people feel seen and safe. It’s important that we’re able to do something different and show this lens, especially if we’re doing something for this generation, then it needs to reflect all of their values, not just the centralized one of money.” She says.

And this brings Sophie to a core element of what she feels is her success, but could also be the success of anyone too. “We don’t listen enough as people. In the world, in our communities. We strive to get to the top and focus on our goals and ignore what it means to be a good listener and engager of our communities, of our youth or audiences.”

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.