Foreign Aid or Local Aid? The Side Hustles of Ismaila Diene of Dimagi

Aid, Evolved
Aid, Evolved
Foreign Aid or Local Aid? The Side Hustles of Ismaila Diene of Dimagi

Today we dive into the life and side hustles of Ismaila Diene, a senior executive within Dimagi. Born, raised, and now returned back to Senegal, he shares his experience with the diaspora, homecoming, foreign aid, entrepeneurialism, and structural inequity.

Ismaila is a member of Dimagi’s global executive management team. He leads our team in West Africa, runs a major global consulting practice, and is Dimagi’s representative to government in multiple countries. At the same time, he also manages to bring technology leadership to our product roadmap, raises two children, and balances a host of side hustles outside of work.

Ismaila shares how growing up with four sisters has made him a ‘feminist by default’. Following the influences that shaped many in his generation, he went abroad to study and work. Then he made the fateful decision to come back to Senegal.

Outside of his work in aid and with Dimagi, Ismaila leads many local initiatives. One of these provides capital to finance local agricultural enterprise. Another provides health insurance to his community. These provide a fascinating case study on the kind of efforts that are being driven for Senegal from within Senegal.

Show Notes

  • Dimagi is a social enterprise that provides digital solutions to support human health and well-being. Dimagi is where both Ismaila and our host Rowena work.
  • CommCare is an open source tool to build customizable mobile apps to empower frontline health workers. It is designed to drive social impact programs in resource-constrained environments.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. Ismaila’s uncle used to work at the WHO before he retired and began collaborating with Ismaila on a local health insurance scheme.
  • Laiterie du Berger is the example Ismaila cites of a great local organization in Senegal which was successful in winning foreign funding. Ismaila has supported Laiterie du Berger, both at work and after work, by providing a mobile app to assist in managing their yogurt supply chain.
  • Archives d’Afrique is the French-language podcast Ismaila recommends. It covers contemporary African history through the lens of major figures from its past and present.
  • Yoff is the commune in Senegal where Ismaila was born and raised. Today he and his uncle run a community-driven health insurance scheme in Yoff through a framework established by local government.