September 29, 2023


Passion For Business

A business graduate’s bid to make banking greener

Julia Ménayas followed a nicely-trodden path out of enterprise university, starting to be an affiliate in a enterprise cash organization. But in March 2020, just as she listened to about “something called Covid”, she stop to established up a banking solutions enterprise concentrating on sustainability.

Launching Helios was an bold shift by the 27-year-outdated Parisian, who only graduated from her masters in administration (MiM) at HEC Paris in 2018. For the initially four months, the enterprise comprised just Ménayas and her co-founder, Maeva Courtois, working from Courtois’ kitchen, observed by the cat.

But Ménayas was pushed by the drive to pursue a career that would be about making social worth, instead than merely building a earnings — an outlook that came in aspect from her time at enterprise university.

When she started at HEC Paris, she felt like just one of the “lucky ones”, and the class taught her to convert that into a sense of social duty.

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By way of her work working experience — including at start-ups as nicely as in enterprise cash and consulting — she was drawn to the know-how sector. But tech did not meet her drive to make social worth. She describes the marketplace as “very weird”, and while there is important social duty as an trader — deciding upon which industries and businesses will prosper, what new work will be created and encouraging to form the broader financial route — “somehow we have been not owning it at all”, she claims.

Sunny outlook: Helios invests in industries that do not add to the local climate crisis

So Ménayas returned to what she was taught on her MiM. “Leaving a VC — with pretty superior everyday living earnings — was challenging,” she claims. “But when it did not make sense in terms of [social] duty, I remembered what I had been taught on the MiM and how we had to feel not about salary but the worth we could convey,” she claims.

Helios, which presents its solutions in partnership with German banking program enterprise Solaris, is somewhere “between an NGO [non-governmental organisation] in terms of aspiration and purpose” and a enterprise “because we have to be sustainable somehow”, claims Ménayas.

Consumers fork out a fee to open up an account and Helios pledges in no way to make investments their deposits in industries that add to the local climate crisis or damage biodiversity. “We do really the reverse,” Ménayas claims. “We only immediate our funding in direction of industries related to the ecological transition.” Symbolically, the initially financial institution playing cards are made of cherrywood sourced from sustainable forests in Europe.

A Visa card made of cherrywood
Cherry on best: The company’s initially financial institution playing cards are made from sustainable cherrywood

A different intention of Helios is to elevate awareness amongst people about in which financial institutions make investments their deposits. When men and women consider global warming, Ménayas claims, they tend to feel of the impact of the automotive or aviation industries, but couple glance at which businesses financial institutions fund employing customers’ income.

“The banking marketplace transforms people’s deposits into extended-expression investments in the serious overall economy and, by deciding upon to finance industries like coal-fired electricity or gasoline extraction, [financial institutions] really have a ton of duty in regards to our foreseeable future,” she argues.

Ménayas credits enterprise university with opening up prospects and inspiring her to be bolder. Along with accessibility to a community of start-ups, VCs and entrepreneurs, HEC Paris promoted a “learn to dare” ethos that she claims she appreciated. “The university opens up your brain to setting up some thing and not fearing the unidentified,” Ménayas claims. “That was a superior beginning position to go away traditional marketplace guiding and start some thing a lot more adventurous.”

Julia Ménayas © ©Magali Delporte

Without a doubt, her information to future MiM learners — along with remaining curious and open up to getting courses in a variety of topics beyond finance — is to devote a third of their time in the classroom and two-thirds speaking to classmates, lecturers and speakers.

Tapping into this community gave Ménayas the confidence and frame of mind to seek out guidance when she wants it — some thing that is proving important as an entrepreneur. “Being uncovered to pretty distinctive everyday living tales was a superior lesson for the reason that I felt it was Alright for me to arrive at out to anyone,” she claims. “At Helios we have to build some thing from scratch, so we have to gather a ton of expertise, associates, traders and customers, and be ready to arrive at out to anyone for aid, information or methods.”

The MiM furnished a lesson in a lot more every day expertise, this sort of as listening. There are plenty of big egos at enterprise university, claims Ménayas — some thing that was specified shorter shrift at the armed forces camp to which learners have been sent to discover about teamwork. “The troopers explained to us, ‘You are heading to discover how to shut up’,” she recollects.

Ménayas claims she learnt to listen to some others in the team, as nicely as to leaders. “As a manager and co-founder now, I feel I largely listen. Starting up to listen ahead of really major was a pretty superior career lesson.”

The working experience of teamwork that the MiM furnished has also been priceless. “Today, our enterprise is all about setting up the most effective staff, just one that is one hundred per cent aligned with our purpose but also capable to supply tangible success,” she claims. “The team work, which was pretty powerful on the MiM, was pretty superior instruction for that.”

Helios is off to a solid start. The initially round of fundraising introduced in €1.5m and its three,five hundred users throughout France, Belgium and Luxembourg have so considerably deposited €8m in current accounts, which cost €6 per thirty day period to open up. But the enterprise is younger and there are challenges forward, this sort of as recruitment, merchandise, acquisition and increasing awareness amongst people about how financial institutions use their income.

But Ménayas remains characteristically bold: in 5 yrs she wants Helios to hire one hundred-two hundred men and women and “be a great deal a lot more political than we are now”. Like the new financial institutions that started up for the duration of the industry’s digital revolution, Helios is on the “verge” of bringing a “sustainable revolution of banking”, Ménayas claims, “proving that we can do matters in another way, that we can build a transparent and sustainable design and, with any luck ,, paving the way for the banking marketplace to shift a lot more radically and faster”.


2020 Co-founder, Helios

2018-20 Associate, Alven (enterprise cash organization)

2017-18 Consultant, Boston Consulting Group (six-thirty day period internship)

2017 Analyst, Knife Money (enterprise cash fund — six-thirty day period internship)

2014-18 Masters in administration, HEC Paris (aspect of a double degree in corporate and community administration science at Sciences Po)

2016-seventeen Personal fairness analyst at Bpifrance (investment financial institution — six-thirty day period internship)

2015 Business-to-enterprise sales at Jam (on-line media enterprise — summer season internship)