“I believe that social and economic justice must prevail. I believe in the importance of staying grounded and humble. And I believe in my ability to achieve anything I set my mind to.” — Irene Charnley

Merishka Harilall


Financial Services

Organisation / Company

Spenda Holdings


Merishka Harilall, 28, is the co-founder and the chief executive of Spenda Holdings, a financial technology business. Her job entails shaping the vision of the Spenda SA business by creating plans and executing various business strategies where she “wears multiple hats”. The last few years have made her an excellent problem-solver and she has the ability to adapt to big changes. Merishka is leading a team to create mobile and digital payment products that serve the underbanked in Africa. Her company has just launched a mobile application, Spenda Scan to Pay, on the South African market. This app allows users to purchase vouchers on the Spenda SA website and to pay at more than 6  000 merchant locations across the country. She manages all the moving parts needed to launch products to markets to improve daily. Merishka says that by providing essential financial tools to underserved areas, people are empowered because they can now improve their financial stability and quality of life. She is also involved in the International Women’s Forum South Africa, the Young Leaders Connect Entrepreneurship Programme. Merishka says she is motivated by her ability to solve problems and help change the lives of others.


Bachelors in Strategic Brand Communications, Vega School


One specific achievement I’m particularly proud of this year is being able to successfully launch Spenda to provide access to underbanked communities and the previously marginalised through the use of Spenda Scan to Pay. This accomplishment not only aligns with our mission to promote financial inclusion but demonstrates our commitment to social impact.
This achievement reflects our dedication to creating positive change and expanding our reach to make a real difference in people’s lives.


Irene Charnley, Charmaine Houvet, Wendy Lucas Bull, Tryphosa Ramano, Clayton Hayward and so many more have guided me on my journey. These people have shaped my thinking, shared insights into various industries and source of guidance.