[Interview] Charlette N’Guessan, Co-founder, BACE Group, Ghana
Ivorian based in Ghana, Charlette N’Guessan is a tech entrepreneur who collaborates with various organizations that strongly advocate for gender balance in the tech ecosystem. She has a degree in Electronic and Software Engineering and certified in data science and machine learning by Worldquant University.
A certified digital identity practitioner, Charlette is co-author of the AI BOOK published by Wiley in April 2020.
Please tell us about your company.
BACE Group is a software company based in Ghana. Our solution, BACE API is a digital identity verification system using facial recognition powered by AI. Our solution enables financial institutions and online businesses facing KYC(know your customer) issues and online identity fraud, to verify their customers’ identities remotely in real time and from anywhere. BACE is built on high-security standards and can easily be consumed by any system.
BACE was registered as a company in September 2018. We are 4 co-founders from Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Ghana.
What's been the market response to your service?
Adoption has been slow and gradual. Today we are in the commercialization phase and we have been able to achieve some of our objectives. This tells me that even if the local market may not seem quite ready to trust cutting edge technologies, the industries we are targeting understand the use cases of our solution and that the BACE API is a better way to guarantee a climate of trust between companies and their customers.
Has the ongoing pandemic affected your business operations?
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an increasing impact on the way most businesses operate. In the financial sector, many branches have closed to avoid exposing their employees and customers to the spread of the virus, so the challenge is to reduce human contact without reducing financial transactions. This becomes a challenge for financial institutions as they must respect the KYC requirement and verify client identity before giving access to its services.
This period helped us reach more targets and validate our use case for remote verification. Note that our product is an effective solution responding to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses. With our solution, businesses can now authenticate and onboard new and existing customers without having to show up in person. The whole process is transparent, secure, remote and digital.
Would you say that the current health crisis has revealed a need for policy reform in Africa?
Definitely yes, COVID19 has affected many industries in Africa and highlighted many unresolved issues. Covid has been a focus time for governments, businesses and policy makers to reflect on local challenges and establish strategies that address those challenges. For example, today they understand that Africa must embrace the digital age and increasingly embrace digital technologies for productions and services, such as banking, retail, education, agriculture and health, as well as public services. These industries have an impact on economic growth on the continent.
Is the current work-from-home trend a positive one that should be pursued?
I can't say definitively if this is a positive or a negative trend. I think this experience teaches us a lot in terms of collaboration. We understand that working remotely does not necessarily replace collaboration in the physical workplace. I would say that remote work offers companies the possibility of reducing certain costs (equipment, internet, rent, security, etc.) and allows more agility and flexibility in the employee's working methods. One important thing though is that companies analyze the productivity of their employees according to the two modes of work and apply the mode that works best for the well-being of the company.
What are the long-term objectives of BACE Group?
We plan to expand our solutions into new markets for ID validation. And as we are a team of problem solvers and tech builders, we plan to diversify our services and build new products to serve the African market. At the moment we are live and operating at full steam, with many deadlines to meet.