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Bassim Haidar

Founder and CEO

Optasia

London, UK

Bassim Haidar
Tiffany Hagge
BDT Capital Partners
Andre Hakkak
White Oak Global Advisors LLC

Bassim Haidar’s Biography

Bassim Haidar is a Nigerian-born Lebanese executive and entrepreneur. He has a strong track record of founding and scaling businesses in Africa and the Middle East, and now heads up a multi-sector conglomerate with revenues in excess of $1.6bn.

His expertise in driving growth, improving financial inclusion and unlocking economic opportunities in emerging markets has led him to found businesses across technology, telecoms, logistics, energy, engineering and medicinal cannabis.

He is the founder of Channel VAS, now Optasia, a leading vendor of mobile financial and fintech services. It improves financial inclusion by offering banking services and smart handset financing for developing markets and currently serves over 650m customers in over 30 countries.

A serial entrepreneur, Bassim founded his first company, Intercomm Ltd, when he was just 20 years old. He later founded GMT Nigeria, which he grew to the leading integrated procurement, finance and logistics provider in West Africa.

In 2003, recognising the growing need for telecoms infrastructure in Nigeria, he founded Channel...
Bassim Haidar is a Nigerian-born Lebanese executive and entrepreneur. He has a strong track record of founding and scaling businesses in Africa and the Middle East, and now heads up a multi-sector conglomerate with revenues in excess of $1.6bn.

His expertise in driving growth, improving financial inclusion and unlocking economic opportunities in emerging markets has led him to found businesses across technology, telecoms, logistics, energy, engineering and medicinal cannabis.

He is the founder of Channel VAS, now Optasia, a leading vendor of mobile financial and fintech services. It improves financial inclusion by offering banking services and smart handset financing for developing markets and currently serves over 650m customers in over 30 countries.

A serial entrepreneur, Bassim founded his first company, Intercomm Ltd, when he was just 20 years old. He later founded GMT Nigeria, which he grew to the leading integrated procurement, finance and logistics provider in West Africa.

In 2003, recognising the growing need for telecoms infrastructure in Nigeria, he founded Channel IT. At a time when the industry was facing a magnitude of challenges in sourcing, logistics, revenue generation and customer retention, he created the benchmark on how to successfully create and provide essential supplies and services nationwide. The company now operates across 19 countries and plays a major role in connectivity in the Middle East and Africa. He also founded Knuru Capital, a private venture capital firm with interests in technology across the Gulf Region, Africa and Southern Europe, and serves as its Chairman.

He founded South African-based medicinal cannabis company SafriCanna, which funds extensive R&D, undertakes clinical trials and exports to several countries worldwide.

As an active philanthropist, Bassim has previously worked alongside the World Economic Forum and Africa CEO forum, and is a member of the Global Council of Amnesty International.
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Bassim Haidar’s Newsfeed

PR Newswire
Channel VAS rebrands to Optasia in global expansion plan

Bassim Haidar, Founder and Chairman of Channel VAS, announces the company's new operational name: Optasia.

The Africa Report
Mobile money key to Africa’s growth, but bad tax policies ruin it

Bassim writes an opinion piece on the benefits of mobile money services in emerging African markets, and the bad tax policies that hinder its inevitable growth on the continent.

View News Archive

Bassim Haidar’s Background

Optasia
Founder and CEO
2011 - Present
Dubai, AE
Optasia, formerly Channel VAS, provides a flexible AI platform that enables financial inclusion for all, allows responsible financing decision making, and drives a superior business model and good customer experience.
Channel IT logo Channel IT logo
Channel IT
Group Founder and Chief Executive Officer
2003 - Present
Lagos, NG
Channel IT, part of the Channel IT Group, is an independent distributor of mobile network infrastructure that has helped mobile operators in several countries, including Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa, Athens, Cairo and Delhi.
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Bassim Haidar’s Gallery

Board Positions

Optasia
Chairman
Dubai, AE
The fundamental service of Optasia is a fully integrated, versatile AI platform that handles scoring, financial decision making, disbursement, and collecting.
Knuru Capital
Chairman
Dubai, AE
Knuru Capital provides equity and finance to high-growth technology companies in GCC countries, Africa and Southern Europe.

Advisory Roles

Amnesty International
Global Council Member
2016 - Present
London, UK
Amnesty International is the world's foremost human rights organisation, fighting injustice and inequality all across the world. Global Council Members are encouraged to act as champions within their own networks and to assist the organisation's Secretary General in identifying and engaging new human rights supporters.

Media

Helping emerging market consumers gain access to mobile financial services
Feature
Jan 2019
Davos, CH
At the 2019 Davos WEF Summit, Bassim chats to Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business programme Mornings with Maria, advocating for financial inclusion in emerging markets.
Bassim Haidar | How technology is helping underdeveloped regions financially
Feature
Jan 2018
Davos, CH
At the Davos World Economic Forum Summit, Bassim Haidar advocates in favour of doing business in emerging markets.
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Memberships

Africa CEO Forum
Member
2012 - Present
Paris, FR
The Africa CEO Forum is an annual gathering of top executives from Africa's leading enterprises, as well as international investors, multinational executives, heads of state, ministers, and officials from the continent's major financial institutions.
World Economic Forum
Member
Cologny, CH
The World Economic Forum is an international organisation dedicated to improving the status of the world via public-private cooperation.

Mentoring

Endeavor Greece
Mentor
Athens, GR
Endeavor is a global, mission-driven organisation that is at the forefront of the high-impact entrepreneurship movement. Endeavor was created on the principle that vigorous support for high-impact entrepreneurs fosters job creation, innovation and economic prosperity.