#TFAAspotlight: TruCaller’s Zakaria Hersi is the motivation young people wouldn’t joke with

Zakaria Hersi is a Swedish-Somali citizen known for his role in the development and propagation of TrueCaller in Africa and Middle East. He is best known as a job creator and tech ambassador in Africa, founding a tech company in Kenya that employed 150 people within its first half year.

The gist:

  1. In 2007, he and two friends – a Palestinian and an Iraqi, launched a business intended to commercialise the ideas of his friend Ali of Iraqi heritage on real time data compression. The business wasn’t successful, but gave Zakaria exposure to different mentors and ideas on how to pitch for funding and other support. It also gave him an itch for entrepreneurship.
  2. The 31-year-old was nominated for The Future Awards Africa Tony O. Elumelu Prize in Business, 2014 for StartUpSomalia.com and 4Weeks4Life.
  3. Zakaria expanded his exposure to the investment side with a stint as Entrepreneur in Residence for Investment AB Kinnevik in Nigeria from late 2014 through the following spring. That was when he was named managing director of Efritin.com, Nigeria’s top marketplace for used goods.
  4. Zakaria spent 2015-2016 in Kenya, where he led and later sold a successful high-tech startup. He sold that firm in 2016 to return to Sweden when his mother fell ill.
  5. Still in 2016, He founded Orten.io – a platform that, through events and immersive workshops and training of talented women and minorities from low-income areas, works to inspire greater inclusiveness and cooperation to support tech entrepreneurship.
  6. He was recognised as one of Nigeria’s 100 most innovative persons in Technology in 2016
  7. During his time at Besedo, Zakaria worked closely with some other prominent online marketplaces in the world such as OLX, Ebay, and Match.com. The post-merger integration of Besedo and French AI company IoSquare was also made possible by him.
  8. He once said, “There are a large number of well educated young students graduating each year with no job security, so with such a large knowledge bank available why not teach them how to set up their own companies and launch global companies? We want to give the possibility to everyone to set up and be a part of a large, strong African tech ecosystem.”
  9. Also said, “Don’t force your concept and ideology on Africa, get to know the culture and take your time to do research and talk with different groups.”
  10. More recently, he has served as the African director of TrueCaller, which signed up its one millionth paid subscriber in 2019.

Zakaria Hersi is the future!


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