Mar 2022 – May 2022
Aboubacar Sidiki Kamagaté
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Born in Abidjan the economic capital of Ivory Coast, Aboubacar Kamagaté is a happily married father of one and a highly experienced finance expert. He is the eldest of a family of 5 children and believes in giving back to his community through social action.
Recently promoted as the CFO of Jumia, Ivory Coast, Aboubacar joined the first African Unicorn in 2017 occupying successively the post of Accounting Director of the Ivory Coast office, CFO of the Senegal Office, and now CFO of the Ivory Coast office with a view on the Senegal, Cameroon and Gabon offices.
His work experience has seen him tenured for 6 years at PwC Côte d’Ivoire and Deloitte Côte d’Ivoire.
As the former President of Lions Club Abidjan Arabusta, Aboubacar was engaged in social actions within low-income communities. His charity work with friends and organisations ranges from donating food packages, school supplies, and healthcare essentials to mentoring high Schoolers through speaking engagements within their institutions.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Corporate Finance and a master’s degree in Corporate Tax and Finance at Fes University, Morocco.
AGN; What philosophy drives you in life?
ASK; My philosophy is to believe. Your strength lies in the belief you hold. Regardless of the difficulties lying ahead, holding a strong belief in your ability to move forward will give you the strength to do so.
AGN; What was family life like for you and as the eldest did you feel a sense of responsibility or pressure to set a good example for your siblings?
ASK; Despite feeling a sense of responsibility towards my younger siblings, my parents never placed any strong pressure on me in this regards.
My father worked in Canada prior to establishing a career in Cote d’Ivoire, and my mother was a History and Geography teacher. My mother has always been close to us, encouraging us and providing lots of emotional support.
I have an innate drive and strive to do things to the best of my ability. I was hopeful that if I was successful, along with the example of my parents, those coming behind would desire to emulate us.
AGN; How do you feel your upbringing aided you in achieving your goals?
ASK; My parents were a great example of what could be achieved through hard work, dedication and perseverance. My father pursued his education in Canada back in 1970. Upon his return, he was able to build for himself a career that allowed me to grow up in a privileged environment. This comfortable environment, coupled with my values and character, have shaped the person I am now.
While I grew up in a comfortable environment, I faced a fair share of financial struggles during my time at university in Morocco. During that period I often found myself with less than $50 to cover all of my expenses for an entire month.
AGN; Is there a personal goal that you have now set your sights on achieving?
ASK; I desire to do more in terms of community service. At the moment there is real need for far greater access to financial data and digitization of services in my community. I would like to take part in implementing efficient solutions. The digitization of services should touch upon all levels of the society, from obtaining birth certificates to securing a meeting with officials, far more should be done through digital platforms. I feel doing so will lead to greater transparency and efficiency while making life easier for the population.
AGN; Aside from banking and finance what other interests do you have?
ASK; Leadership is something I am very interested in. I spend a lot of time crafting my skills and shaping the person I aspire to be. I am a former President of Toastmasters Deloitte and a current member of my local Toastmasters community. I read a lot and use my inquisitive spirit as a compass on my learning journey. I describe myself as an eternal learner. I also take pleasure in giving back to my community through youth mentoring and providing advice.
My peers and I are planning to establish an organisation for mentoring by the end of 2022. It is something I am very much looking forward to getting off the ground.
AGN; If you had the chance to relive your childhood would you have still chosen the same career path?
ASK; I feel the challenges and successes I have experienced have shaped the person I am today. There isn’t anything I would change or do differently.
AGN; Had your childhood dream always been to work in Finance?
ASK; While I was young I wanted to emulate my father and become an IT engineer. Finance wasn’t something I had set my sights on.
Upon graduating from high school in ‘General Science’, which focused on maths, physics and biology, I had the opportunity to study in Morocco. The pathways available through my study abroad program were all related to business or economics. I chose economics as it resonated with me more. That is how I got involved in finance.
AGN; As a result of your professional background you have been exposed to a number of countries in West Africa, is there one thing you can point to about the work culture of West Africans?
ASK; Overall I would say we are a hard-working bunch. Living as an expat is quite a different experience to living as a local within a region. There is always an initial stage of cultural adaptation and understanding that comes into play when you find yourself in another country.
As a result, I found it easier to integrate and get work done within firms in Cote d’Ivoire, as opposed to other nations.
AGN; How has relocating due to work impacted your family life?
ASK; My family and I are a single unit, an indivisible package. They come with me wherever I go. I am fortunate and thankful that I have a trusting and extremely supportive wife. She has had to make sacrifices with her own career in order to support mine. Now that we are back in Ivory Coast I am standing-by, ready to make any sacrifice in order to return the favour. I believe that the husband and wife are equal in a family so both need to sacrifice for each other.
AGN; Do you feel your standpoint on this is an increasingly commonly held view among African men?
ASK; I highly doubt it is widespread yet. The patriarchal society in which we currently live tends to place a higher emphasis on having a one-sided relationship between men and women. Women tend to be viewed as the giver, the one who should sacrifice more.
In my own family such values are not upheld. I do not subscribe to that mentality. For example, if my wife secures a job where she has to travel often and requests that I look after our child, I will do so without hesitation. I would accept this as it is my duty to support our family unit.
AGN; What do you do for fun or to relax?
I like to play video games, football, basketball and take time to relax with my family in scenic, nice places.
AGN; The continent is evolving as it modernizes, is there a specific role you feel your country is best able to play?
ASK; People are typically very open here so launching products and services tends not to meet as much resistance and scepticism as elsewhere. People are happy to try something new without needing lots of convincing. It makes Ivory Coast a very good launchpad for new things.
AGN; How do you feel your country’s economy is faring?
ASK; As far as I am aware we have been fortunate where the pandemic is concerned and as such its impact has not been devastating overall. Our economy grew last year and it is set to grow again this year.
While positive headline growth figures are a good thing I do agree that more could be done to create jobs. I feel our education system needs to be overhauled so that students are equipped with an education that promotes a flexible way to doing things. Businesses need people who can adapt, innovate and reinvent. I’m not convinced our current education system engenders this approach enough.
I also feel our tax system needs restructuring. I believe the level of tax here is prohibitive and creates a barrier for new businesses being established. In tandem, I feel our judicial system could do with being reviewed in order to make it is more robust and equitable.
AGN; What new approach to doing things do you feel is working well at Jumia?
ASK, The e-commerce sector continues to grow and our company is reaping the benefits of that. However, in order to ensure one does not regress adaptation is key.
Unlike in more developed countries, it can be difficult to locate customers due to a lack of clear postal addresses in numerous places here on the continent. To overcome this, we have introduced a system where the customer is directly linked with the delivery person. This provides a means for the customer to be able to direct the delivery person with far more precision than if they had to go through a third party.
Due to a lack of trust or the means to pay using electronic means some people were not able to benefit from the ease e-commerce allows. Others are uncertain and would like to see the product first. To enable such people transact we have introduced a cash on delivery system. Customers are also able to examine and collect items from our depots where again they can pay via different means. Such measures have helped expand our reach and deepened our market share.
We continue to seek new ways to satisfy our customers’ needs. Indeed it is the only way to thrive and not just to survive.
Previous ‘Personal Profile’ interviews are available here; archive
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on behalf of African Global Networks (AGN) - Mar 2022