#AFEXTechDiary 3: Data is the Next Big Thing

Kamaldeen Samaila is one of the brains behind WorkBench, a Value Chain Management software that helps you manage the entire value chain operations from input sourcing and sales, to loan administration and repayment and much more. Here, he shares his experience being a product manager and the fundamentals needed to drive a product to success.

Tell us briefly about your journey into tech.

My journey into tech started 10/11 years ago. I have a background in software engineering, but it was just coding, writing scripts among others. I developed an early interest in computers. I found it challenging, exciting and rewarding at the same time. I enjoyed programming, learning how systems work, and putting in effort to make stuff work.

At some point, I got bored of software engineering and made the decision to dive into learning almost every language and almost every stack.

I was constantly looking for the next big thing.

For me, machine learning and artificial intelligence weren’t the next things, so I opted for product management, and I enjoy every bit of the job.

It’s been an adventure navigating the strategic and tactical part of making a product work.

What is it like working as a product manager at AFEX?

A keyword that comes to mind is interaction. As a product manager, you interact with so many people. I get to ask people “is this done?” frequently throughout the day and that’s cool. There are times the stress gets to you and there are times you feel fulfilled seeing your work achieve the intended outcome and impact the day-to-day activities of thousands of lives.

How does your involvement with WorkBench impact lives? What are some of the activities you’re involved with?

One of the beautiful things about WorkBench is how farmers can get paid at a competitive price.

AFEX has also grown and scaled exponentially because on WorkBench we are able to process more transactions on a daily basis.

Our goal of financing farmers with input and making them financially included in the economy is a direct impact of WorkBench on their lives.

We also have records and data that we utilize as an organization and that data comes through the WorkBench. This part is particularly exciting to me because data is the next big thing. Because of Workbench, we have data that is beneficial to key players in the commodities value chain, and there is so much we can do with all that data and insights. I daresay that we haven’t even started tapping into what is possible.

Tell us about what you’re working on now and what your biggest challenge is?

We are currently trying to do some system optimizations to make our system more stable and aligned with the 10x vision of AFEX to reach a million farmers.

What aspect of tech most excites you?

Everything honestly, there are just endless possibilities in tech.

There is almost nothing that is unachievable in tech. You might experience some resource constraints but it’s not impossible.

Who would win in a fight: Gates, Musk, Cook, Bezos, or that kid at Facebook?

Well, Elon is already huge. Mark is scrawny. However, Bezos has been hitting the gym lately so he could win.

What do you love about being a Product Manager at AFEX?

I love that I work daily with seriously brilliant minds. These are incredible people, our sense of humour is whack but we are really cool people.

What skills should someone in your role look out for?

Project management is a dynamic and evolving field, to thrive here you should possess a lot of soft skills such as the ability to think on your feet, adapt to any situation, and learn fast.

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AFEX

AFEX’s infrastructure and platforms drive capital to build a trust economy in Africa’s commodity markets.