Sacha Poignonnec, 41 years old, married with three children aged 13, 12 and 9. Sacha is French and Canadian, and he grew up close to Barcelona, in Perpignan. He then lived and worked in Paris, New York, Washington DC and Dubai before deciding to settle in Barcelona in 2021. He is the co-founder and co-CEO of Jumia, which is the leading e-commerce platform in Africa. The company is active in 11 countries of Africa, has more than 4,000 employees and is listed in the New York exchange. Prior to founding the company, he worked at Arthur Andersen & Co and at McKinsey and Company.
Why did you choose Barcelona?
Because it’s a perfect city to work, live, and raise children. I am very close to Africa geographically, on the same time zone as most operations, and I can easily be in other European cities, or to the US where we need to go regularly. It’s also great to live and to raise children in an environment which is very authentic, with strong roots and history and at the same time totally open and multicultural.
What aspects of the city would you highlight as being positive?
The ‘livability’ of Barcelona is simply exceptional. I have lived and worked almost on every continent, and nowhere in the world there is a combination of a big city, business presence, culture, history, connectivity, quality of life.
What aspects of the city do you think need to be improved? And how?
I think that the city needs to accelerate the upgrade of its tourism strategy. We need to attract higher quality tourists and the way to achieve that is with culture, arts, quality events. Spain is also notorious for bureaucracy, it’s time to leverage technology to change that.
And maybe the city needs to be better known for outdoors. The parcs surrounding the city are incredible and so close. Every tourist should want to visit Collserola or Garraf for example!
Which are the city’s strengths that will allow it to overcome the COVID-19 crisis?
The city and the country have made lots of good decisions in my view, keeping restaurants open for lunch time for example, allowing people to still meet at night but with a reasonable curfew. In many other countries this was not the case and it was very difficult for small business owners.
What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?
Barcelona needs to accelerate investments in green technology to become one of the bests cities in the world. We also need more consumption of local products, from food to fashion to industry. Barcelona can and should push this, because it has amazing local agriculture, a deep historical manufacturing and industry history and it should leverage this to lead the way and show to the world that almost everything consumed in Barcelona is produced locally, and hence avoiding transportation and supporting local jobs and skills.
Which city do you feel as «your city»? What do you miss the most?
I miss something from every city I have lived in, the list is long! I am starting to feel more and more Barcelona as ‘my’ city. And having grown up just across the pyrenees in north Catalunya, it actually feels for me like I am finding again the memories of my childhood, the weather, the food and the pine trees.
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