Alternative Finance Forum 2023
April 26 – 27, 2023, Thessaloniki
Money. Innovation. Sustainability.
AFF2023 is a unique chance to reconnect face-to-face with leaders of the alternative finance community forging innovations in delivering efficient financial services and solving the pressing social and environmental challenges. With live presentations of innovative fintech and social finance solutions, fresh ideas from influencers, and networking opportunities, AFF2023 is a place to learn, reflect and find your path forward.
This two-day event is organized under the auspices of the European Investment Bank Institute (EIB Institute) and EIB Group (EIB). Over 30 innovators and thought leaders from the fintech and social capital sectors will share their ideas and innovative solutions, leveraging new technologies and design principles to develop sustainable financial services through user experience-based design and novel business models.
Day One will zoom on innovations in financial services: digital identify and client onboarding, open and decentralized finance, enterprise finance solutions for SMEs, and new fintech business models. Day Two will present new financial solutions in applying capital to solve social and environmental problems: green and climate finance, impact investing, alternative currencies and circular economies, and new social finance niches and clusters.
There is something for everyone: engaging dynamic format, great speakers and participants, new insights from the fast-growing alternative finance sector, one-on-one connections, and peer discussions, not to mention the beautiful welcoming city of Thessaloniki with all its charm and magic.
AFF2023 welcomes professionals in the social and alternative finance space, as well as business and fintech leaders interested in paving the way for a win-win partnership across the Fintech ecosystem. There will be many opportunities to network among the best in the sector and learn how to thrive in digital disruption.
Defining the future of the alternative finance is up to us. Join us at AFF2023 and be a part of the discussion.
Joining the Alternative Finance Forum 2023 is entirely free of charge, but seating is limited, so remember to ensure your registration here.
Day 1 – April 26th
Introduction and Keynotes
08:30 – 9:30
09:30 – 10:00
AFF2023 “Money. Innovation. Sustainability.”
Piotr Korynski, Forum Leader
Shiva Dustdar, Director, Head of the EIB Institute
“If Not Alternative, then What?” by Dr. William “Buddy” Aff
Financial Services Innovations
10:00 – 11:00
Digital Identification and Onboarding
Moderated by Maria Staszkiewicz, President, European Digital Finance Association
– Prof. J. Mark Bishop, Scientific Advisor, Fact360
– Kristofer von Beetzen, Chief Product Officer, Freja eID Group AB
– Antony Skarlatos, Key Account Manager, Namirial
11:00 – 11:15
11:15 – 12:15
Open and Decentralized Finance
Moderated by Tonia Damvakeraki, Managing Director, EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum
– Jori Armbruster, Co-Founder, EthicHub
– Mariana de la Roche, Senior Regulatory Affairs Expert, IOTA
– Pawel Laskarzewski, CEO & Co-Founder, Nomad Fulcrum Hedge Fund
– Benedetto Biondi, CEO, Folks Finance
12:15 – 12:30
Alternative Finance Toolbox:
Bringing DLT to SME financing on the EBSI infrastructure
Jan Klesla, Senior Policy Advisor to the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, Co-chair of the European Blockchain Partnership
12:30 – 13:30
13:30 – 14:30
Digital and Innovative SME Financing Solutions
Moderated by Olena Gryniuk, CEE Regional Director, SME Banking Club
– Karol Leszczyński, Product Development Manager for Factoring, Comarch SA
– Katalin Kauzli, Co-Founder, Partnerhub Zrt
– Yaroslav Dubov, CEO & Founder, Ninja Lender
14:30 – 14:45
14:45 – 15:00
Alternative Finance Toolbox:
Fintech journey and ecosystem in Greece
Challenges and Opportunities for social impact, alternative finance projects and
the role of Greek human capital.
Georgios Karamanolis, Co-Founder & CTO/CIO at Crowdpolicy & FintelioX
15:00 – 16:00
New Fintech Business Models
Moderated by Oliver Gajda, Founding Executive Director, European Crowdfunding Network
– George Platanas, Country Director Greece, Seedblink
– Eleni Vlami, Head of Growth, Pleo, Womenoffintech Member
– Alin Latu, Country Manager Romania, iBanFirst
– Christopher Grätz, Co-Founder & CEO, Invesdor
16:00 – 16:45
Summary Day One
Alternative Finance Edge: Money. Innovation. Sustainability.
Summary of the Breakout Sessions on Financial Services Innovations:
How do people interact with money and innovation, and how does this affect the design of financial solutions?
Reflections of a Raporteur:
How do innovation and sustainability change the financial services industry?
– Yannis Rizopoulos, Editorial Advisor, Web World News
16:45 – 17:00
Piotr Korynski, International Development Expert, Vantage Strategies
Day 2 – April 27th
Introduction and Keynotes
08:30 – 9:30
09:30 – 10:00
AFF2023 “Money. Innovation. Sustainability.”
Piotr Korynski, Forum Leader
Eleni A. Gioti, Secretary General of Employment, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Hellenic Republic
Dr. Ira Sobel, Founder and Academic Director of Fintech for Longevity Academy
Social Capital Innovations
10:00 – 11:00
Green and Climate Finance
Moderated by Sofia Karadima, Economist & Investment Writer, SDGs & ESG
– Shiva Dustdar, Director, Head of the EIB Institute
– Coenraad de Vries, Co-founder, Managing Partner, StartGreen Capital
– Gabriela Chang, Co-Founder, EthicHub
– Franz Josef Allmayer, Founder, Integrity.Earth, Hypha, Digihub.li
11:00 – 11:15
11:15 – 12:00
Impact Investing and Social Finance
Moderated by Cyril Gouiffes, Head of Social Impact Investments, European Investment Fund
– Fabrice do Rego, Co-Founder, General Partner, The Blueprint
– Nikolaus Hutter, Founder, Partner, New Paradigm Ventures
12:00 – 12:15
Alternative Finance Toolbox:
DAO Tools for the Creation of Alternative Economic Systems
Franz Josef Allmayer, Founder, Integrity.Earth, Hypha, Digihub.li
12:15 – 13:15
13:15 – 13:30
Alternative Finance Toolbox:
Alternative Financing for Social Finance Institutions
Andrea Limone, CEO, MicroEurope
13:30 – 14:30
Financing Social Entrepreneurship via Microfinance
Moderated by Samuel Clause, Senior Investment Officer, European Investment Fund
– Peter Surek, Head of Social Banking, Erste Group, CEO, Erste Social Finance Holding
– Hamed Ordibehesht, Founder and CEO, Ponture
– Bogdan Merfea, Social Banking Promoter, Board Member at Patria BANK,
Executive Director at Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative Fund
– Neoklis Stamkos, CEO, microsmart
14:30 – 14:45
14:45 – 15:45
Alternative Currencies and Circular Economy
Moderated by Georgina Gomez, Associate Professor, Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University
– Susana Martin Belmonte, Economist, Author, Collaborator at Open University of Catalonia
– Dr Paolo Dini, Local Currency Developer, informal Systems
– Bruno Delepierre, Happonomy Coördinator
– Stef Kuypers, Happonomy Researcher in behavioral and monetary economics
15:45 – 16:30
Summary Day Two
Alternative Finance Edge: Money. Innovation. Sustainability.
Summary of the Breakout Sessions on Social Capital:
How does innovation enable the social capital to achieve sustainability?
Reflections of a Raporteur:
How do innovation and social capital affect the alternative finance growth?
– Nikos Sakellariou, Journalist, Section Editor, epixeiro.gr
16:30 – 17:00
Piotr Korynski, International Development Expert, Vantage Strategies
Allmayer Franz Josef
Founding Member & Co-creator at Integrity.Earth, Hypha, SEEDS, Digihub Liechtenstein
Franz Josef Allmayer is a citizen of SEEDS with cultural roots in Austria and Guatemala. These contrasting yet complementary perspectives have allowed him to question existing cultural paradigms built on scarcity and separation from an early age.
Dedication to the fields of innovation and integral development has enabled Franz to gather transdisciplinary experience working with international organizations, governments, the private sector, NGOs, academia, and many more. This process allowed him to recognize pervading patterns and embrace a holistic approach to development that effectively provides value towards the whole system.
Franz has a background in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Vienna and a joint Masters in Health Policy, Planning and Financing from the London School of Economics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Upon witnessing first hand the ramifications of the market failures of anthropocenic proportions, it became clear that the way we have organized money is at the root of the pantheon of wicked problems we face today. Reshaping and repurposing money such that it serves a world in which people and the planet thrive, motivates Franz to create the tools, processes, and on the ground collaborations that scaffold the emergence of bioregional economies of abundance.
A serial entrepreneur and regenerative practitioner, he serves as a founding member and co-creator at Integrity.Earth, a digital venture cooperative for applied regenerative development with seat in Liechtenstein; SEEDS, a financial ecosystem and digital currency designed to unleash regenerative market forces; Hypha, a human-centered DAO building the tools to enable communities to create new economies and evolved forms of governance; Digihub Liechtenstein a multi-partner cooperation of entrepreneurs and organizations leveraging innovative structured finance vehicles to serve SMEs and the public sector in the micro-country Liechtenstein, and as a macro-hub to connect European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) across Europe around the topics of blockchain technology.
In his playtime, you can find Franz tinkering with ancient-future technologies and weaving together a growing planetary network of people and organizations at a local, national, and bioregional level — all of which align around a shared vision for change.
CEO, Co-founder, EthicHub
Jori Armbruster (Spain/Mexico), Blockchain and crypto beliver, descentralization advocate. Co-founder and CEO of EthicHub a multi awarded agro fintech enabling a fair global lending system for unbanked farmers which also re thinks the supply chain. He ran a coffee farm in Mexico and was CEO for a wholesaler with over 100 salespoints and over 800 employees, with prior experience in operations, HHRR ans M&A to name a few. He is fully commited with the SDGs ant to prove impact investing is not only necessary but a better investment in the long term. As part of his commitment he’s been speaker both in crypto and impact spaces at FLII (Foro Latinoamericano de Inversión de Impacto), TalentLand, StartupOle, OpenFinanceCDMX, INATBA, LisCon, DAOist and many more. He is also an occasional writer and a regular panelist on radio and events. He loves coffee and cacao and spends his spare time learning about new technologies and trends.
Belmonte Martin Susana
Economist, Author, Collaborator, Dimmons Research Group
Susana Martín Belmonte is an independent economist focused on the democratic and environmental aspects of the monetary and financial system, and on the potential of the digitalisation of money for the transition to a fair and low-carbon economy. She has led several monetary and social innovation projects and campaigns including the Unlock campaign to foster cheap and accessible financing for green renovations, the REC citizen currency in partnership with the Barcelona City Council in the framework of the EU B-MINCOME project (2016-2019). She also co-founded the GmeRiTs consortium, which wonthe €1 million “2020 Blockchain for social good” prize on financial inclusion from the European Commission. Susana is the author of several publications including books, reports, and scientific articles and has a background in international trade, online business and a master’s degree in Economic Theory from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Susana is a collaborator with Dimmons Research Group at Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.
Co-Founder, CEO, Folks Finance
Benedetto Biondi is the co-founder and CEO of Folks Finance, one of the leading projects on Algorand offering a full set of DeFi tools for managing Digital assets. Benedetto has accrued 3 years of experience as a Blockchain Project Manager, is a mentor in the Algorand Miami and Europe Accelerators, a DeFi advisor at Climatecoin, a DeFi lecturer at the course of Economics and Law for Digital Assets at the University of Florence.
Benedetto has deep experience in Web3 and has navigated the DeFi space since its beginning. He began from crypto passion, later becoming a Project Manager at Blockchain Italia, then the passion for DeFi brought him as CEO of Folks Finance in 2021. He has completed a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Politecnico di Milano and a Master’s in Engineering Innovation and Management at Cardiff University, specializing in Data Analysis.
Bishop J. Mark
Chief Scientific Adviser, Fact360
J. Mark Bishop is Chief Scientific Adviser to Fact360, Professor (Emeritus) Cognitive Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London and a member of the International Faculty at the Karel Čapek Centre, Praha, Czech Republic. At Goldsmiths, Mark led teams that pioneered AI for fraud detection and B2B e-procurement; research deployed by the UK National Audit Office to identify £500m potential savings in the NHS consumable budget. Over his career, Mark has won research funding in excess of £3m and published over 200 articles and three books in the field of Cognitive Computing, addressing (a) theory – where his interests focus on the foundations of Stochastic Diffusion Processes (the world’s first `swarm intelligence’ algorithm); (b) application – where Mark has led numerous real- world projects (ranging from fraud detection to space exploration); and (c) its philosophical foundations – where he developed the ‘Dancing with Pixies’ reductio ad absurdum argument against the possibility of machine consciousness.
In 2010 Mark was elected to Chair the AISB (society for Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour), the world’s longest established society for the study of AI. In June 2017 Mark was invited to the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) at Turin, to present a series of lectures on AI and Robotics to an international audience of legal experts and policy makers. He was subsequently invited to join the ‘panel of experts’ tasked with drafting and publishing the EC Common Vision on “Skills for Smart Industrial Specialisation and Digital Transformation in Europe”. In 2018, alongside Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, Mark was invited to present evidence on ‘data’ at the House of Lords, Westminster. Over his career, Mark has accumulated substantial experience of working with national and international media, and in 2015 was honoured with a full-page biographical article in ‘Le Monde’.
Peder has spent his entire career in alternative credit, specifically private debt and structured finance. He started out structuring debt for the energy and commodity sector working for global energy trader Mercuria and later Swiss credit hedge fund Horizon. Peder then returned to Sweden to lead origination for Swedish credit fund Kreditfonden where Peder managed a team originating transactions of more than SEK 1bn per year. In 2021 left to set up Cloover and to focus exclusively on financing the energy transition for the residential sector. Peder is currently Co-founder and CFO at Cloover. Peder holds a Bsc from Bocconi University Milan and a MA from University of Geneva.
CSO, Co-founder, EthicHub
Gabriela Chang (Mexico/Spain), co-founder and CSO of EthicHub. Industrial designer, artist and writer. She worked at the Secretary of Economic Development in Chiapas, Mexico and was an organic coffee producer. Involved in Blockchain since 2017, she promotes its enormous potential as a catalyst for the SDGs, based on her experience on EthicHub as pioneers on ReFi to generate triple impact by connecting complementary economic regions to enable true financial inclusion. Frequent speaker and panelist in both crypto and impact forums (most recently ETH Denver, FLII, DevCon Bogota, El Confidencial).
Senior Investment Officer, European Investment Fund
Samuel works for the Inclusive Finance team at EIF, structuring guarantees, loans and equity investments for the benefit of microfinance institutions and providers of social loans.
Managing Director, EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum
Tonia Damvakeraki, MSC is a Senior Project Manager working on Research, Technology and Innovation Policy Projects and Studies in Netcompany-Intrasoft. Since 2020 she is the Managing Director of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum. Her interest is on technical and policy related projects mostly engaging with key enabling technologies and their convergence for a better and more sustainable future. Tonia is member of the Steering Committee coordinating Blockchcain 100+, an initiative supported by the UN’s General Assembly to create a charter for blockchain and the UN Values. Last but not least, Tonia is member of the World Metaverse Council, aiming to support dialogue for an equitable and inclusive life in the metaverse.
De la Roche Mariana
Senior Regulatory Affairs Expert, IOTA Foundation
Mariana de la Roche is the Senior Regulatory Affairs Expert of the IOTA Foundation. Since 2021, she has been the co-chair of the INABTA Social Impact and Sustainability Working Group. She is a Colombian human rights lawyer with a law degree obtained with academic excellence, a specialization in human rights and humanitarian law, and a master’s degree in public administration. She has over nine years of experience as a project manager and legal and regulatory advisor for different NGOs and social businesses in Colombia and Germany. Mariana has been leading the actions of the social impact and climate of INATBA, raising awareness and advocating for blockchain for good at the global level. She spoke and presented blockchain use cases for good in COP27, the EU blockchain week, and the Environment Ministerial For Europe Conference, among other relevant international spaces. Mariana is also part of the leading team coordinating Blockchcain 100+, an initiative supported by the UN’s General Assembly to create a charter for blockchain and the UN Values. Lastly, since 2023 she is one of the ambassadors of the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC).
De Vries Coenraad
Co-founder, Managing Partner, StartGreen Capital
Coenraad de Vries is Co-founder and Managing Partner of StartGreen Capital and Oneplanetcrowd. The mission of the Oneplanetcrowd and Startgreen is to finance sustainable innovation by Venture Capital, Crowd funding or Project finance. With these finance instruments Oneplanetcrowd provides sustainable entrepreneurs and energy project developers custom-made finance solutions. The company is founded in 2006 and has 485 million euros under management.
Oneplanetcrowd is the largest sustainable Crowdfundingplatform in the Netherlands (active since 2012; as part of Start Green group) and is recently merged with Invesdor Group. Together both companies are a leading Crowdfunding platform in the EU. Invesdor/Oneplanetcrow is active in Germany, Austria, Finland and the Benelux, with 170.000 investors and more than 425 mio asset financed.
Previously Coenraad worked in the banking industry in several management positions. His personal ambition is to accelerate a sustainable change in the financial industry.
Bruno Delepierre is someone who is difficult to catch in one bucket: socially driven entrepreneur, innovator, author, speaker or scientist, these are labels you could possibly ascribe to him. After an internship at the United Nations and a brief stop at a global business consulting firm, he started his own firm, age 26, eight years of entrepreneurship working with digital before digital was sexy,. After one year, he lost both his parents and besides his digital start-up, he also ran… a restaurant. During that period, he saw the ‘good, bad & ugly’ of entrepreneurship. After he launched and managed the TED conferences in Leuven, one of the most innovative cities in the entire EU, he wrote “Roadmap to Utopia”, an economic cookbook containing 35 recipes to reconcile sustainability and economics, followed in 2016. Today, age 41, he runs Happonomy, an R&D centre exploring sustainable change and economics. The organisation helps people become aware of what colours their lives and develops solutions on how money, work and technology, the ingredients of our economy, can be used to enhance sustainability, regenerativity and quality of life. Bruno Delepierre has a master’s degree in law, management and international business economics, He is currently pursuing a PhD at KU Leuven in behavioural economics. Besides Happonomy, he coordinates the Belgian chapter of the Global Entrepreneurship Network where he is looking at how to boost entrepreneurship together with Belgium’s largest employer organisations and universities. In addition, Delepierre is an MIT talent scout, a member of the Club of Rome and serves on the investment committee of the European Innovation Council, the EU’s investment fund for hi-tech growth companies.
Local Currency Developer, informal Systems
Paolo Dini (PhD Aerospace Engineering, Penn State, 1990) is a Local Currency Developer at informal systems where he works in the Collaborative Finance team. He is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow in the Media and Communications Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Engineering and Computer Science, University of Hertfordshire.
Do Rego Fabrice
Co-Founder & General Partner, The Blueprint VC
Fabrice do Rego is co-founder and General Partner of the investment fund The Blueprint VC, whose investment strategy includes a focus at early stage on diverse founding teams.
He began his career in Paris, in the Mergers & Acquisitions department of Lehman Brothers. He then joined the Morgan Stanley team. Subsequently, he divided his time between Paris and London for Credit Suisse. At the beginning of 2012, Fabrice founded Valmeon, an “M&A boutique” with a focus on SMEs and startups/scaleups.
Thanks to his experience, Fabrice was in 2018 one of the first figures in the “De la réussite parmi vous” (“Success among you”) awareness campaign, which aims to promote diversity through new role models.
Fabrice is an alumni from Solvay Business School (Brussels, Belgium) and ESSEC (Paris, France).
CEO & Founder, Ninja Lender
Yaroslav Dubov is the CEO and Founder of Ninja Lender, a Fintech startup incorporated in Estonia, Poland, and Croatia, originally from Ukraine. It’s a B2B platform to help banks and credit institutions reduce the wastage of loan applications by matching rejected borrowers with other credit providers. Yaroslav started his career as a mathematician conducting scientific research in the field of Genetic Algorithms and teaching math at the university. Later, he became an IT entrepreneur and then the CEO of an IT company selling and implementing software and hardware solutions. Now he dedicated all his time and efforts to Ninja Lender, solving one of the largest inefficiency gaps in the financial world by helping rejected borrowers secure loans.
Director, Head of the EIB Institute, European Investment Bank
Shiva Dustdar currently serves as the Head and Director of the EIB Institute, which brings the values and mission of the EIB Group close to society through non-commercial activities supporting its climate, innovation and development priorities. Shiva has over 28 years of experience in the financial industry working for large private and public institutions in New York, London and Luxembourg. Since joining EIB in 2003, she has worked in risk management, lending, investing and advising in innovative companies. Until June 2022, Shiva headed the Innovation Finance Advisory (IFA) Division in the EIB, which she built and scaled up into a successful innovation financing advisory programme covering green, digital, gender-smart and health-related sectors. Shiva started her career in 1993 at J.P. Morgan in Investment Banking in New York working in M&A, Project Finance and Emerging Markets before joining Fitch Rating Agency in 1999 to set up its European High Yield rating business. She holds a BA (Magna cum Laude) in Economics from Columbia University in New York and an Executive MBA from London Business School (LBS). Shiva is an innovation finance expert and regular speaker on innovation and impact financing, gender smart investing, digital and green financing and actively engaged in networks that promote sustainable and mission-oriented financing.
Executive Director, EUROCROWD
Oliver founded EUROCROWD as an international NGO in 2013, serving since as Executive Director and Chairman. The past decade, Oliver has worked with venture capital, microfinance, technology and social entrepreneurship in both commercial and non-profit settings in Europe and the USA. A former journalist, he started his career in the early 1990s in the publishing and business information industries. Oliver holds Master’s degrees from Solvay Business School and from the University of Hamburg and studied at SEESS (UCL) in London. Oliver is a member of the Executive Board of EUROCROWD.
Gioti A. Eleni
Secretary General of Employment, Hellenic Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
Born in Athens in 1961. Diploma in Civil Engineering, University of Patras, 1983 and Postgraduate degree (M.Sc.) at Imperial College London, 1985. Consulting Engineer and member of the Board of Directors and shareholder of the company “ROGAN AND ASSOCIATES – CONSULTING ENGINEERING ARCHITECTS”, maritime and transport infrastructure projects, 1985-1997. Executive staff of MOU SA, 1997-2001.
Director of the Managing Authority of the Operational Program of the 3rd CSF, the NSRF and the Cohesion Fund of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, with responsibility for the management of the co-financed development and investment projects in the Transport sector, 2001-2011. At the same time, I taught at the NATIONAL SCHOOL OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION and LOCAL ADMINISTRATION operational programs’ design, Planning and Evaluation.
Head of Cabinet of the Secretary General of Public Investments and NSRF, Ministry of Development, coordination of EU programs and regular collaborations with representatives of the European Commission, 2012-2014.
Since 2014 senior advisor at the EUROPEAN INVESTMENT BANK, Bucharest, Athens, Luxembourg, Directorate of Consulting Services for technical maturity and preparation of financing investment projects and programs.
Gómez M. Georgina
Associate Professor in Institutions and Local Development at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Dr. Gómez obtained her PhD with distinction with a thesis on the Redes de Trueque, the Community and Complementary Currency Systems in Argentina in the period 1995-2015. She has published widely on monetary systems with complementary currencies, solidarity and informal finances, grassroots economies, local economic development and institutions. She is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal Development and Change and the International Journal of Community Currency Research, and president of the Research Association on Monetary Innovation and Complementary Currency Systems.
Co-Founder and CEO, Invesdor
Christopher Grätz is Co-Founder and CEO of the Invesdor Group, one of the largest pan-European investment and financing platforms with almost half a billion brokered financing volume. Today, Invesdor is active in Scandinavia, Finland, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands – further expanding in Europe – financing SMEs, growth companies and renewable energy projects. Before founding Invesdor, Christopher has worked as a management consultant at KPMG AG in the Strategy & Operations – Financial Services division and advised major German and international banks and stock-listed industrial companies. Christopher is a frequent speaker and panellist in the field of Crowdfunding, FinTech and Digital Assets.
CEE Regional Director, SME Banking Club
Olena Gryniuk is a Host of SME Banking shows at SME Banking TV, and CEE Director at SME Banking Club, responsible for the development of the SME Banking Club in the CEE region. Before getting involved in the SME Banking Club activities, she was in charge of SME products and sales in Raiffeisen Bank and Eurobank groups, having 10 years of banking experience.
The “SME Banking Club” established by a team of former SME-bankers in 2010, as a professional network of bankers to exchange information and experiences in the segments of micro, small and medium-sized businesses. The SME Banking Club organizes regional SME banking conferences and webinars that bring together financial institutions, technology companies, and development finance institutions to share knowledge, spur innovation and promote the growth of SMEs in the region. Moreover, it provides its members with access to detailed analytical market reports and annual studies. SME Banking Club’s main activities are concentrated in Central and Eastern Europe.
Head of Social Impact Investments, European Investment Fund
Cyril Guiffes has been an investment manager within the venture capital team of EIF for the last seven years. Since 2019, he is heading the team in charge of managing EIF equity social impact investments and portfolio, from social impact funds investments, social impact bonds and investments in impact incubators. His entire career within EIF has been dedicated to impact related activities, starting with microfinance in 2008. In this context, he was responsible for the implementation of the JASMINE programme, an EU initiative aimed at boosting the institutional capacity of microfinance institutions in Europe. Prior to joining EIF, Cyril gained unique field experience working with microfinance institutions in the Middle East.
Founder, New Paradigm Ventures
Nikolaus Hutter is the founder of New Paradigm Ventures, an advisory firm focused on accelerating the shift to a purpose-driven economy through prototyping it today.
He advises international NGOs on Impact Ventures & Investment and works with impact entrepreneurs around the globe. He also serves as an IC member for CHI Impact Burning Issues Fund, and on the Board of several non-profits, like the Hellenic Impact investing Network, the Hungarian Impact Investor association, or EUObserver, a non-profit investigative news platform.
Prior, he initiated the first accelerator for social innovators in Central Europe, led the impact investor network Toniic in Europe, and worked in the VC industry for over a decade. He read economics in Vienna, Strasburg and at LSE.
Economist & Investment Writer, SDGs & ESG
Sofia Karadima is a researcher & writer, focusing on global investment and ESG. She has reported on foreign direct investment, institutional asset management, and private markets (private equity, venture capital, private debt and infrastructure), among other topics. Sofia has lived in Greece, the UK Chile, Denmark, and Spain.
Co-Founder & CTO/CIO, Crowdpolicy & FintelioX
Georgios Karamanolis has a strong international presence in startup entrepreneurship, digital transformation, government innovation and financial technologies ecosystem serving for more than 15 years in high and C-level positions both in the private and public sector. He has been involved in a wide range of projects, organizations, institutions and technology based startups in Greece and abroad.
During 2009-2012, Georgios Karamanolis coordinated the implementation of major digital transformation & transparency projects (diavgeia.gov.gr), e-government and other initiatives for the Greek Government. He was a member of the Scientific Committee for the Crowdsourcing Platform “labs.opengov”, the Organizational Committee for the Digital Greece 2020 EU Agenda and Scientific Advisor of the Information Society and the Knowledge based Economy group at the National and Technical University of Athens.
He is currently the Co-founder and CTO/CIO of Crowdpolicy technology & innovation company which specializes in the design, development and implementation of digital transformation consulting services & technology integration products for the public and private sector in Greece, Cyprus, Albania & Italy. Coordinated by Georgios Karamanolis, Crowdpolicy is a leading company in the fields of civic tech – govtech (innovation in gov and smart city technology), fintech (innovation in financial transactions and banking industry) and open innovation programs that accelerate startup entrepreneurship.
In the last 10 years, he has coordinated digital transformation interventions in important sectors of the economy, as well as the design of operational infrastructure and actions for the banking sector and with the aim of developing the Greek innovation ecosystem. Mr. Karamanolis is the strategy coordinator of the Greek Fintech Cluster, an initiative to promote open finance and open banking in our country (fintech.net.gr) and has planned fintech entrepreneurship promotion actions such as be finnovative and hackathons. His activities also include the design of open banking digital systems to support banks and the development of value-added services in the Economy by supporting the implementation of the PSD2 European Directive and the open platform finteliox.com.
Georgios is also elected chairman of Hellenic blockchain Hub, a non-profit organisation with the objective to disseminate knowledge about blockchain and Distributed ledger technology in Greece for private and public sector in sectors of economy & society. He holds a B.Sc. in Informatics and an M.Sc. in Information Systems from the Athens University of Economics and Business. His main interests include fintech, civic tech, smart cities, Open Data, Open Government, Blockchain – DLT projects and CrowdX initiatives in a global context.
Co-Founder, Business Development Director, Partner HUB Ltd
Katalin Kauzli is the cofounder and business development director of Partner HUB Ltd. She has been with the company since 2017. Partner HUB develops a white label e-invoicing platform that can be integrated into online and mobile banking channels for providing value added services such the integration of e-invoicing and request-to-pay. In 2021 Partner HUB was the winner of the Sibos Perfect Pitch competition for the Partnership and Collaboration section and the winner of the payment startup category for the EFMA-Capgemini Newtech Challange. Katalin is an advocate for using invoice data in banking. She is active in several industry initatives regarding e-invoicing, among others the US e-invoicing interoperability work group coordinated by the Business Payments Coalition. Katalin has a background in corporate finance and business development in financial institutions.
Senior Policy Advisor to the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, Co-chair of the European Blockchain Partnership
Jan serves as a senior policy advisor to the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade and currently a co-chair of the European Blockchain Partnership. He is the convenor of the DLT SME financing use case of the EBSI (European Blockchain Services Infrastructure), board member and co-chair of the DeFi sub working group of INATBA and also co-founder of the Blockchain Republic Institute, Lawyer by background, he has focused on the digital economy, particularly investments and regulations in the area of the technological disruption of traditional industries.
International Economic & Finance sector development Specialist
Piotr Koryński is an international economic and finance sector development specialist with significant field experience working in more than 30 countries globally. For over 10 years, Mr. Koryński led the efforts of Soros Economic Development Fund, a social investment vehicle of the Open Society Institute, to support alternative financial institutions and stimulate local economic growth. He is also a recognized expert in access to finance and financial inclusion, and serves as an advisor to central banks, regulatory bodies, and development agencies.
In his career, he helped to initiate and operate several alternative finance institutions as well industry infrastructure projects and policy programs to create appropriate legal and regulatory framework for access to financial services for low-income people. Piotr led the first Alternative Finance Forum in Warsaw in 2017. Piotr is a graduate of the Ohio State University and the Kellogg School of Management.
Researcher in behavioral and monetary economics, Happonomy
Stef Kuypers, a “nerd with social skills,” is an inquisitive thinker with an affinity for understanding the root causes behind the challenges facing our society’s economic systems. After earning his Master’ s degree in IT from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in 1991, Stef embarked on a career as a software developer.
In 2006, Stef’s desire for a more human interaction led him to explore different career opportunities. Through several courses and work experiences, he developed a diverse skill set in creative thinking, improvisational theater, coaching, business intervention, and leadership practices.
A decade later, in 2016, Stef developed the first version of what would eventually be called the Sustainable Money System (SuMSy), a model aimed at fostering a more sustainable and value-driven economy. As a dedicated member of Happonomy since 2017, Stef has worked closely with the team to further refine and develop SuMSy, driven by a desire to transform our economic system into one that actively supports our well-being. His talent lies in his strong systems thinking abilities, a desire to deeply understand complex issues, and a knack for framing hard facts within a social and human context.
With his technical knowledge and experience in group dynamics, Stef is a capable workshop facilitator who appreciates the importance of collaboration and exchange. Currently pursuing a PhD in monetary economics at VUB, Stef is excited to share his insights and vision. He looks forward to engaging with fellow participants as they collectively explore new ways of approaching economics, including innovative concepts like SuMSy, and the value we place on happiness and well-being.
CEO, Co-Founder, Fulcrum
A seasoned, self-driven serial entrepreneur (5 startups so far) with the number of exits & 20 plus years of experience in technology & business. In the past, Pawel was building planes at Boeing, fintechs, AI, and biotech companies. He exited 3 startups so far. Crypto evangelist, DeFi maximalists & Investor. Recognized as Blockchain Expert of The Year 2022 by USA Today.
He worked with the number of pure crypto companies such as GameSwift, Animal Concerts, Nakamoto Games, Synapse Network, Niftables, Cookie3 and many more as well as was bringing blockchain to traditional market business such as banks, gaming & entertainment sector eg. G2A, Citi Bank, Santander etc.
Pawel as hyper active public speaker and crypto evangelist speak very often on big global conferences such as NFT NYC, AIBC, Web Summit, ETH Europe (Warsaw and others), Consensus, etc. and engage into local initiatives like Crypto Mondays with Josh Lange, local community meetups, twitter spaces adn everything that is bringing crypto to the masses and increasing the adoption.
Country Manager Romania, iBanFirst
Alin Latu holds a Master’s degree in Economic Cybernetics, Statistics and Informatics. He is a highly experienced professional with strong math and problem-solving skills that enable him parse data and information to develop creative fintech solutions. Alin provides consultancy to European companies involved in foreign trade activities to help them efficiently manage their international payments and foreign exchange risks.
Product Development Manager for Factoring, Comarch SA
A member of Business Banking Unit in Comarch FBU sector – responsible for the Comarch Factoring Platform on the position of Product Development Manager. He graduated the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, with the degree in Management and Marketing in the Public Sector. Experienced in corporate banking for 10 years (Raiffesien Bank, BNP Paribas) as Relationship Manager and Factoring Sales Director – Southern Region Poland. Enthusiast of AGILE methodology, Proffesional Scrum Master.
Andrea Limone is the CEO of MicroEurope – Invest to Include, an innovative social investment company focused on investing to support people and institutions with ideas, needs and passion for a diverse and inclusive Europe. MicroEurope is promoted by eight professionals and three leading European investment companies, all with common roots and broad experiences in the microfinance sector.
Andrea is also President at PerMicro (and former CEO for 12 years), first MFI in Italy specialised in small loans for the start-up and development of small enterprises as well as for primary needs of families.
Andrea is member of Board and General Secretary of EMN – European Microfinance Network, and member of Board of Ritmi, the Italian microfinance network.
Dimitris Litsikakis holds a BSc in Information Technology from Piraeus University and a MSc in Project Management from Lancaster University. He worked at IBM UK as a Project Manager delivering large scale IT projects. He then joined Edenred Greece as Digital Transformation Manager where he led the entire digitalization of the company’s solution offering, issuing hundreds of thousands of prepaid cards to beneficiaries. In 2018 he was appointed Country Manager Greece, Cyprus & Malta for Revolut, the fastest growing FinTech in Europe with a $33B valuation, delivering 400% client growth. In 2019, Dimitris moved on to spearheading the digital transformation of deVere Group, a financial consultancy with global presence with more than $12B assets under management, delivering cutting edge FinTech solutions and as the CEO of deVere E-money he delivered 10x user growth and record revenues. He’s now serving as CEO of Snappi, the new joint venture between Piraeus Bank and Natech, a new Digital Bank in Greece focusing in Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) micro-loans and Banking-as-a-Service offerings.
Social Banking Promoter, Board Member at Patria BANK, Chairman of the Board at Patria Credit IFN, Executive Director at Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative Fund
Bogdan is a banker with more than 20 years of experience in management with a demonstrated history of working in the banking industry and non banking financial institutions. Previously acted as CEO of Raiffeisen Bank Kosovo, Patria Bank and Patria Credit IFN, and later on became Board Member of Patria Bank and Chairman of the Board of Patria Credit IFN. Active promoter of Financial Inclusion, Bogdan is also a Board Member at the European Microfinance Network.
In parallel with the development of a university career for over 18 years, Bogdan has coordinated projects and programs to support and promote micro-enterprises and SMEs in Romania. Bogdan holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and a Master in Business Management, while also has completed Executive Education Programs at reputable institutions, such as INSEAD, Harvard Business School and Wharton Business School. Highly skilled in: Management, Business Development, Coaching, Sales, and Project Management.
Founder and CEO, Ponture
Hamed is a seasoned entrepreneur in microfinance and fintech. He founded Ponture, a microfinancing company known for its innovative approach to lending to underprivileged immigrants and female-owned small businesses, and backed by the European Investment Fund. He also has more than twenty years proven track – record in building tech solutions. In his new fintech startup Visualizy he aims to revolutionize the banking and payment industry for all companies.
Country Director - Greece, Seedblink
George has 15 years of experience in Finance and Shipping Management and more than a decade in building & scaling up tech startups, fundraising, and investments. As an entrepreneur, he successfully led the way towards his 1st exit while in the most recent past incubated & accelerated more than 40 tech projects, all the way up to fundraising. After building, from the ground up, a local fund for a Spanish VC, he joined SeedBlink, the innovative tech investment platform that builds an efficient investment infrastructure for individuals and institutions working together to source, vet, finance, and grow innovative European technology companies at all stages. Since 2022, George is leading SeedBlink’s Greek & Cypriot offices and operations.
Yannis Rizopoulos studied Electronics, but made his career in the Media sector, where he has been active for 45+ years. He has worked for “Kathimerini” as a member, then head of Foreign Desk, “Naftemporiki” and “Sunday Eleftherotypia” newspapers, focusing on Technology and Innovation issues. He has served as editor-in-chief or member of the editorial team in dozens of magazines on a wide area of subjects, has many years of radio and TV experience and has also served as moderator in numerous conferences and congresses. For six years, he was the editor of the specialized section Technologein at “Pathfinder” portal, where he produced more than 110 multimedia documentaries on innovative research, tech apps and best practices. Nowadays, he contributes to magazines, events and sites of Boussias Communications (www.boussias.com) and Verticom Communications (www.webworldnews.gr).
Key Account Manager, Namirial
Antony is responsible for handling Namirial’s operations and taking strategic initiatives in Greece, Cyprus, and Poland, ensuring that the company remains at the forefront of innovation and growth in the Digital Transaction Management (DTM) market. Namirial is both a software provider and a certification authority that provides a full range of innovative solutions to identify and authenticate users, workflows to manage signatures, provide certificates for the generation of electronic signatures and electronic seals, procedures for long-term archiving, and certified communications services.
Antony has more than 15 years of experience working closely with organisations from several industries, to help them build and maintain trust in their digital processes in a simple, efficient, and regulatory compliant way. He has held several senior sales positions at leading companies in the technology market, earned his Master Degree in Management from the Loughborough University School of Business, UK and a Bachelor in Economic Sciences from the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki.
Founder, Academic Director, Fintech for Longevity Academy
Dr. Ira Sobel is the founder and Academic Director of Fintech for Longevity Academy, a trusted provider of financial longevity for corporate professionals around the world. Dr. Sobel specializes in the economic aspects of aging with a particular focus on the role of Fintech in improving the financial well-being of older adults and family caregivers. Dr. Sobel lives in Israel where she is currently teaching a course on “Financial Inclusion in the Fintech Age” at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is an international speaker and advisor to many Fintech companies and VCs around the world. Dr. Sobel has a PhD in Sociology from Tel Aviv University.
Neoklis Stamkos is an Economist holding an MBA in Business Administration. Neoklis acts as CEO of microsmart, a newly established microfinance institute in Greece. Prior to that, he was Chief Financial Officer at the Business and Cultural Development Centre (KEPA) and Head of Microcredit Department at KEPA. Neoklis is an experienced professional in financial management and services. He is a Certified Expert in Microfinance, by Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, from which he received Microfinance Center award of Financial Inclusion Ambassador for his efforts to stimulate microfinance in Greece, being one of the leaders of alternative financing of MSMEs, including micro-lending in Greece.
He has been working with KEPA for more than 10 years, acting as the Head of KEPA’s office in Brussels between 2011–2015, and as supervisor of the Department for International & European Projects. Additionally, he performed as an evaluator of investment projects of ROP / CSF III, responsible of the department of inspections for ongoing projects of NSFR 2007-2013 “1st call for Strengthening of Micro and Small Enterprises”.
Secretary General, European Digital Finance Association
Maria is the Secretary General of the Digital European Digital Finance Association, a trade association of the European national fintech associations, which she helped found in 2020. She is based in Brussels working towards the creation of a Pan-European digital finance ecosystem, collaborating for better financial services. Since 2010 Maria held several executive positions with focus on digital and public policies, including the work as Executive Director at the Czech Fintech Association and Deputy Executive Director at the Aspen Institute Central Europe. A graduate in political sciences and European studies in Poland and Germany, Maria previously also worked in Brussels for the Council of the EU and at the Association for International Affairs.
Head of Social Banking, Erste Group CEO, Erste Social Finance Holding
Peter Surek is Head of Social banking at Erste Group and CEO of Erste Social Finance Holding. He is a retail and social banker with more than twenty years of experience in different Central and Eastern European (CEE) markets. Since 2013 he leads at Erste Group Social Banking development and within the last years he has consistently implemented social banking in all Erste core markets, building thus Europe-wide unique platform for financial inclusion. In 2019 – 2021, he acted as member of European Microfinance Network’s Board of Directors and since 2021 he is member of InvestEU Investment Committee.
Co Founder, COO, XEROF
Marc Taverner is Co Founder and COO of Xerof, a leading crypto gateway platform licensed and operating from Switzerland. A technology executive and entrepreneur, Marc has worked at the intersection of fintech & blockchain companies for 8 years. He has worked with innovators, governments, regulators in the private and public sector.
Deputy Minister for Development & Investments, Hellenic Republic
Yannis Tsakiris holds a BSc and an MSc in Mining Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and an MBA degree from the Management School of the Imperial College in London. He started his career in 1995 in S&B Industrial Minerals, a European major industrial minerals producer where he spent 5 years in production, marketing and sales in charge of new products. From 2000 to 2006, he was Partner in Vectis Capital, a venture capital fund based in Athens with an investment focus in Greece and the Balkans.
He joined Europe Investment Fund in 2006 as a Principal involved in certain European venture capital markets that were under development phase. Then he continued as Head of Region in the Regional Business Development Division, responsible for South-Eastern Europe and Head of Unit for Special Programmes in the Institutional Business Development Division. He was appointed Head of Division for South-eastern Europe and EU Neighbouring Countries in the Mandate Management Department and he continued as Head of Division for Business Development. He has set-up and developed several investment and SME financing initiatives and platforms such as Equifund for Greece, Western Balkan Enterprise Development & Innovation Facility, JEREMIE for Greece and Cyprus, Portuguese Venture Capital Initiative for Portugal, the Grater Anatolia Guarantee Facility for Turkey, DCFTA Guarantee Facility for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, etc.
From January 2015 until July 2019, he was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (“GEEREF”) which is an innovative public-private Venture Capital fund of funds catalysing equity capital into clean energy projects in developing countries and economies in transition. He is also an adjunct professor in Venture Capital in the Luxembourg School of Finance of the University of Luxembourg.
Head of Growth, Pleo
Eleni has more than 15 years working experience mainly in Financial services & Banking. She is currently Head of Growth at Pleo, Danish Fintech and leader in Expense management solutions. In present role, her team is supporting the expansion & growth of Pleo customer base in the UK/I markets. Prior to that, Eleni was leading the Account Management team in Meniga, an Icelandic Fintech company that was focusing on Personal & Business Management Solutions. The team was responsible for maintaining an on-going collaboration with existing customers in 35 countries across the globe. Earlier in her career, Eleni was working in Citi and Piraeus Bank, supporting digital banking projects in Greece. She is fortunate to have been named in Women in Fintech PowerList, an initiative launched by Innovate Finance that aims to showcase women who are driving global success across the sector. She is also shortlisted in GIWA awards in the category of Finance among a list of exceptional and successful women in the industry. Eleni is an active advocate on Diversity and Inclusion in Fintech industry, and she is has also been a Mentor in ‘’Women in Banking & Finance’’ (WIBF) and ‘’Reload Greece’’ organisations. She holds a BSc Degree in Economics from Athens University (EKPA).
Von Beetzen Kristofer
Chief Product Officer, Freja eID Group
Identity is the core asset and enabler in the digital world. From this belief Kristofer and his team are building the European digital identity wallet Freja – based on an eIDAS approved eID. If you look at Sweden – Freja’s origin – it is obvious that the future of payments and finance is all about identity and Kristofer will share key insights on why this must be the next focus for the fintech industry in Europe.
Alternative Finance Forum 2023: Financing a Sustainable Future!
The Alternative Finance Forum 2023, held on April 26th and 27th in Thessaloniki (Greece), brought together an outstanding group of experts and leaders from the fintech and social capital sectors to discuss the newest trends and innovations in alternative finance. The...
Defining the future of the alternative finance is up to us.
Join us at AFF2023 and be a part of the discussion.
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Directions & Transportation
Porto Palace Hotel is located in the New Harbor area and it is easily accessible from Makedonia Airport (20-30 min). It is very close to the city center (5-7 min) and just a few minutes away from the Railway Station.