Baba is a curious, open minded and a self motivated African. And as described on his linkedin page; born in Dakar (Senegal), he grew up in Lagos (Nigeria), studied in Nice (France) and ran a business in Shenzhen (China): traveling, sharing and understanding patterns and how products, processes, or systems work, is what drives him. His curiosity made him passionate about what he does and finally he actively looks for problems to solve.
How long have you been at Cellulant?
2 years and a few months of an enriching continental ride.
What and where did you study?
I studied economics and went on to specialize in finance (financial markets) in which I had my first professional experiences.
What’s interesting is that, in parallel, facing customers of all nationalities started very early. In fact, as a foreign student in France living in Nice (South East) you quickly get used to working in the tourism industry during summers. The population of Nice tripled during summers with visitors from all over the world.
Why did you study what you studied?
From individuals to groups to countries to continents, we all somehow define ourselves by the economic impact or power that we hold or are able to measure. It was important for me to understand the ins and outs of how people interact with value; in particular, the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
What drives you?
Curiosity, Excellence and Justice. I might add the current unflattering narrative about Africa, too, requires us to be excellent: not to convince others, but to give our children a good example of where they come from.
You looked after francophone markets Ivory Coast & Senegal, what was the experience like?
Continuity describes it best. I took over Cote d’Ivoire and it was a smooth transition. We had already started working together since day 1 with the local teams. In fact, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and the 6 other countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union share the same currency, the same Central Bank. A lot of banks and MNOs present in one country are also present in the others. We immediately got to work and were very happy to close important contracts, locally (government and B2B).
You are now looking after 8 countries in the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU) . How has the experience been?
Continuity is still the word that would describe this best. Since day one, we realized that to have a proper impact for the company, we had to think bigger than Senegal. We sought the right partnerships to secure payment methods in more countries of the region. As you know the region is a 123 M market and that’s what we’re working towards.
What would you say have been some of the most challenging moments for you on the job?
“Your company speaks French now” is what I always tell the team internally. Having Different languages usually means different cultures and even different regulations. This also means UXs are different etc… And it takes time to acculturate, but we are working through it.
Which have been the most rewarding moments?
- Signing KENTRADE, the Kenya Trade Network Agency, has to be the most rewarding, yet:
– Signing up the government of Kenya,
– The expected impact for Cellulant, for Kenya as a country and the international trade players dealing with Kenya.
– The power of good team coordination and delivery: Dakar to Nairobi, 8000kms away..!
– Being applauded by our Co-founder, Ken Njoroge as we signed the contract and Group CEO Akshay Grover when we went live.
- Growing trust from company’s leadership
What do you love most about working at Cellulant?
– The possibility to think and act big, allowed by Cellulant’s “platform”, being present in so much countries,
– Getting to interact with open minded, talented and hardworking people in more African countries than before. And as we share the same mission through Cellulant, the possibility to have an impact at a continental scale via the work we wake up to do everyday.
– My curiosity is properly fed at Cellulant: learning and growing.
How do you want to be remembered?
– Optimistic and relentless
– Thinks and acts big
– Has contributed substantially to the mission of transforming Africa
In your own words, what does Cellulant want to do in Africa and why is that inspirational for you?
Cellulant wants to facilitate an African integration by making it seamless to do business inside and from outside through the rich ecosystem it is building through payments.