New Team Members, New Projects

It’s been a while since I wrote an update on our team and projects, mainly because we’ve been very busy.  So this is a quick post to make amends, and welcome on board some new members of the Caribou Digital family.

We have three research reports that should all see the light of day in the coming months on digital access and identity in emerging markets.  We’ve started to publish the results of our on the ground trials in Kenya of agent-based wifi, in partnership with Equity Bank and Inmarsat, funded by the UK Space Agency.  We’re continuing our work on country-level digital ecosystem assessments for the World Bank, and are about to start big multi-year contracts for clients in the areas of Digital Identity, Space Technology for International Development, and research into the Digital Financial Services ecosystem.

Our Digital Financial Services Lab with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation continues to develop well, and it’s here that we’ve taken on the most new people as we staff up the project with a small Seattle-based outpost of the company, by welcoming Jake Kendall, Ben Lyon and Stephen Deng to Caribou Digital.

Jake joins us from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he ran multiple projects researching and delivering financial services for the poor.  I’ve known and worked with Jake for many years, so it’s a particular pleasure to have someone I’ve respected for their experience and knowledge for some time on the team.

Ben joins us from Kopo Kopo, an innovative payments start up in Nairobi, which he co-founded.  It’s critical within the DFS lab that we have staff who have experienced the roller coaster ride of being an emerging market Fintech entrepreneur, and Ben brings this experience alongside encyclopaedic knowledge of payment interfaces and business models.

Stephen also joins us from his work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, brings his strong strategy and innovation experience to the team where he will lead the setting up of the partner and investment networks and help prime the pump of potential investees for the fund.

Outside of the DFS Lab, I’m also very pleased that two more people I’ve enjoyed working with and alongside for a number of years have also joined the team.

David Edelstein ran the Grameen Foundation’s Technology Programs when I was running the M4D team at the GSMA.  We’ve been friends for many years and it’s a pleasure to be finally working together, and again a real coup that like Jake and the others, someone of his experience and knowledge has joined us.  David will be co-Director of a big new multi-year programme we’re starting in the Fall.

Last, and by no means least, we’re lucky to have Will Croft join us as our Director of Data Analytics.  I worked with Will for years at the GSMA, where for 10 years he worked on the GSMA Intelligence product building forecasting models for a wide range of mobile industry statistics.  He’s genuinely the best quant analyst I’ve ever worked with, so I’m delighted he’s joined us.  He’s developing a new project for us whilst also helping out on our quant research across the projects.

We’re still only around 16 people, and I reckon we’ll top out at around 20.  We’re still spread all over the world, from Seattle to Cape Town via San Jose, Boston, London, Farnham, Southampton, Nairobi and Peckham.  One of the joys of starting a company is seeing your perfect team start to come together.  When we all got together recently for our team away week in France, it was stunning to have this much intelligence in the room, and to see how everyone bounced ideas off each other.  We’re a small, but very experienced team, and frankly everyone is a delight to work with.

Watch this space as the team starts to kick into gear, and the work starts to bear fruit.