Benjamin Fernandes is a Tanzanian technology entrepreneur and the founder of NALA —a cross-border money transfer service to reduce the costs of sending money from the diaspora to East Africa, starting with the UK. NALA is backed by leading US Venture Capital firms including Y-Combinator, Accel Partners and DST Global.

Previously, Mr. Fernandes worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, before moving back home to start NALA – where they initially built a personal finance app that scaled to over 250,000 customers in Tanzania and Uganda, enabling them to manage their funds and make digital payments with no need for an internet connection.
Mr. Fernandes holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and an Exec Ed. from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

He was born 25 November 1992 is a Tanzanian entrepreneur and former national television presenter. He worked at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States in their Digital Team and Financial Services team. He is the first Tanzanian to attend Stanford Graduate School of Business as an Africa MBA Fellow and the youngest African to ever be accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2017, Fernandes became the first Tanzanian in history to attend both Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government for an executive education program.

Raised in Tanzania, Fernandes was born to Pastor Vernon and Anny Fernandes in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Fernandes attended Haven of Peace Academy on scholarship where he was known as being one of the lowest academically performing students who failed to improved by the time he left. Fernandes was given a conditional scholarship offer by the University of Northwestern – St. Paul, in Roseville, Minnesota, U.S. where he was president of numerous clubs and groups on campus. Then graduating top of his class at the University of Northwestern. After Northwestern, he returned to Tanzania, volunteered a community organizer in Dar es Salaam before moving to the United States for his MBA. Fernandes began his career as a television personality from the age of 17 when he worked at Agape Television Network where his father Rev. Dr. Fernandes was one of the directors. He began hosting sports shows and later started interviewing politicians and entrepreneurs.

In 2012, Fernandes received national attention during the London 2012 Olympics as a national television presenter in Tanzania. In 2014, he graduated from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul with top honours in the United States. In 2014, he was accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business, winning a $160,000 Stanford Africa MBA Fellowship to attend–an award received by 8 students from 8000 African applicants to Stanford. With his sister he worked with their church started by his father in Tanzania to co-found an orphanage called Diamond Village. They cleared a field in Bunju, Dar es Salaam to build the orphanage, teaching the children English and Mathematics.

He was selected by TRUE Africa as one of the “Top 16 Africans leading change in 2016.” Shortly after, FastJet airlines featured his work in Tanzania in their online airline magazine. He was listed as a “Voice of Hope for Tanzania.” In March 2016, he was selected to attend the MBA World Summit in Miami, Florida, and, at the conference, he was awarded as the best speaker for the event. He was presented with the MBA World Summit Award for 2016. In mid-September 2016, he was featured on several live television shows on Clouds TV Tanzania, CNBC Africa, and TV1 Tanzania.

In 2016, Fernandes worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington before returning to his final year of business school at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Fernandes continues to work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a consultancy basis today.

In 2017, Fernandes won several awards at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Fernandes won the Frances and Arjay Miller Award in Social Innovation for his work in developing the financial services sector in Tanzania. Additionally, he won the Miller Social Change Leadership award nominated by fellow students and professors at Stanford Graduated School of Business.

On June 17, 2017, Fernandes graduated from Stanford Graduate School of Business and decided to return home to Tanzania. A decision that stunned many Tanzanians given his potential salary offerings in the United States. Stanford Graduate School of Business has the highest post MBA Salary than any other school in the world. In the year 2016, the lower average salary offering for a graduating student in 2016 was TSH 418 Million ($179,346). This decision to return home was covered all over the press in Tanzania.