A third culture kid and global citizen, Lehlé Baldé (BA ’13) grew up in eight different countries. She was drawn to study communications through the legacy of her grandmother Guita Sadji, a journalist in post-colonial 1960s Senegal. Today in Nigeria, she’s an award-winning media professional. Most known for her work as the pioneer editor of BusinessDay’s weekly publication, she is a well-respected media professional, moderator, event host, producer, International Monetary Fund fellow, and advocate for sustainable development, particularly financial inclusion. In 2022 she was named to Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 list. 

As a young media professional and financial inclusion advocate, what matters to you most about your work? 

I have always been an advocate; however, being the pioneer editor of the BusinessDay Weekender solidified my voice as an advocate for many issues affecting young African people. What mattered most to me about the work was being able to educate, inspire, and inform. The mission for the Weekender was to create a publication for the upwardly mobile African millennial who is concerned with socio-political issues, personal finance, entrepreneurship, the arts, theatre, travel, and much more. We wanted to create a publication that met the readers where a majority of young people spend their time: on devices and online. When the masses have access to information, it can be transformational.  

What current issue are you especially passionate about? 

Financial inclusion is a cause that I am deeply passionate about. Women continue to be significantly underrepresented in both finance and technology. The Women's Digital Financial Inclusion Hub is a coalition of private-public partnerships for coordinated advocacy on women's financial inclusion. We are a catalyst for collective action unifying local, regional, and global stakeholders with the common objective of accelerating progress in women’s digital financial inclusion. The objectives of this work are to establish strong policy, practice, and financial commitments at the global level that promote gender-inclusive financial systems; and to strengthen financial ecosystems in emerging markets championed by country stakeholders.     

Could you share anything about your student experiences at Waterloo and how they contributed to the range of work you do today? 

At the University of Waterloo, I learned firsthand about the value of hard work. Good grades didn’t come easy and a lot of hard work went into completing my degree. I started university at an early age, so I had to become independent and mature fast. Besides the social fun, and the need to be organized, and curious, one class that stands out was an interviewing class that I took in the summer of 2010; we spent time conducting interviews, preparing for them, conducting research and looking out for nonverbal signs. To think that I have interviewed people for a living is quite the full circle moment. I also very much enjoyed the public speaking class: while I remember being nervous for every one of my speeches, it prepared me for the public speaking I do regularly for radio, television, and hosting/moderating public forums. I have been fortunate to speak at conferences across four continents, most recently at the International Monetary Fund Annual meetings in DC.  Graduating from the Speech Communication program gave me the confidence I needed to articulate my advocacy for sustainable development goals. Communication is needed in every aspect of life: from the private sector to the public sector, to digital platforms, entrepreneurship, and business, communications is how the world goes around.