Babacar Sy, serial social entrepreneur sport, tech, education, cinema


A social entrepreneur in sport, new technologies, education and cinema, Babacar Sy is the founder of Giving Back, the edtech startup grow academy in Senegal, as well as the association Don’t Forget Where You Came From, in France. and in the USA.


Mentoring, an organic method of sustainable transmission

Born in Dakar, Babacar Sy was two years old when his parents moved to France. At the age of 20, while he was a student and a basketball player, his two-year-old sister died tragically. He left behind a sociological project aimed at creating a mentoring system between older and younger farmers in Africa to promote the transmission of knowledge. Vowing to pursue his brother’s ambition, Babacar Sy took the idea and adapted it to his passion: basketball. In 1995, he created Giving Back, an association whose motto still follows him today: “don’t forget where you came from”.
Founded in 1995, Giving Back is a sustainable ecosystem based on the education of young athletes and their transformation into social leaders. “By giving them access to education, we give them the keys to being true leaders of society and fulfilling their social responsibilities, towards their communities”, explained the entrepreneur. Obviously, Giving Back has helped young people from Europe and Africa get school and sports scholarships in the United States until 2017, and entered into a moral contract with its beneficiaries who are loyal to the values ​​of the slogan “don’t forget where you came from.”. The young basketball players agreed to return to the association to pass on their experience and provide for the new generations. Intrigued by the sustainable system of the Giving Back movement, Google invited him in 2018 to Google Talk in Silicon Valley, then in Paris, to expose its social and economic mechanisms.


Scholarships for hundreds of international athletes

For over twenty years and without any public funding, Babacar Sy succeeded in building a network of universities and high schools in America, raising funds, setting up scholarships and enabling hundreds of African youth to be seen by professionals. basketball. In 2015, 70% of program participants obtained a university degree, 70% became professional athletes, and 90% are now association ambassadors. In 2000, Giving Back established sport-study academies in Senegal and Mali to continue its action among young people.
At the same time, Babacar Sy became an international evaluator (scout) in the NBA, for teams like the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz. He also coached a high school and university in the USA, allowing them to rise to the best national programs with future Giving Back ambassadors, such as Nikola Vucevic, who became a star player in the NBA, and Hamady Ndiaye, who drafted. in 2010 in the United States. Thanks to these experiences, Adidas called him to lead the Adidas Nations talent scouting program. He identifies and trains great future talents in international basketball and the NBA, such as the Congolese Serge Ibaka and Emmanuel Mudiay, the Swiss Clint Capela, and the French Guerschon Yabusele and Amath Mbaye, the Sudanese Wenyen Gabriel, or the Guinean Hamidou Diallo. Most of them, still unknown at the time, have had great careers since then, and some have invested heavily in Babacar Sy’s social actions.


Social and sustainable development at the heart of every project

Babacar Sy continues his entrepreneurial journey by leaving the sports framework. In Senegal, he created the grow agency, dedicated to the development and management of institutional, private and social projects, devoting 50% of its activity to the development of social enterprises. She then replicated the Giving Back model on another topic particularly close to her sister’s heart: the education of young women. In 2018, and especially thanks to the sports ambassadors Giving Back, Babacar Sy established the grow academy, a social entrepreneurship program for young women who have dropped out of school. In 2021, the grow academy will become a technological start-up for training and professional integration, whose innovation is based on a hybrid and work-study training format, as well as a local strategy for reducing the last mile. It provides soft skills workshops, courses in computer programming, audiovisual content production, digital marketing and business. All in Wolof and local languages, and mostly online, thanks to an e-learning application that ensures better accessibility for everyone. Students are in work-study programs in micro-enterprises run by women close to their homes. Since May 2022, nearly 400 students have been trained by the grow academy, which has just signed a public-private partnership with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as part of its collaboration with the Ministry of Professional Training of Senegal (MFPAI). In 2023, the grow academy will receive a thousand in total.

An author since his early years, Babacar Sy has been involved in filmmaking for the past 3 years, especially with producer Paméla Diop for the approach of the film Saloum, which was selected at the Toronto International Film Festival. Two partners have just been formed in the company Biopics Films, which will produce cinematographic biographical films on African sports legends.

In 2021, he created the humanitarian association Never Forget Where You Come From, which continues the first commitment of Giving Back, by setting up solidarity actions worth 1 million dollars in the fields of education, health and culture . , in Africa and around the world.

Babacar Sy considers it his duty to serve circular social ecosystems in Africa, to create engaged communities with local social impact.

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