Behind the Code

Introducing Decentralife, feat. Neema Adam, Front-end Engineer at Clickpesa


Caroline Young

Publishing date


Here, we like to talk about the solutions to real-world problems.

But what – or who – we don’t get to talk about as much are the minds behind the solutions, the people behind the change. Blockchain as an industry and technology is still so compelling and exciting that it’s drawing big thinkers and dreamers looking to solve real-world problems, and each one of them has their story.

Introducing Decentralife – a new series unveiling the authentic lives of people (not the projects) realizing their potential, building and problem-solving using blockchain technology.

Our first Decentralife interviewee is someone who knew early on what she wanted to do – build cool products. And that dream is reflected in multiple facets of her life, whether in her love for music, her freelancing experiences, or tracking how she spends her time. Introducing Neema Adam, a developer based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

But I grew up in another region called Arusha. I moved here three months ago for work, and I've been trying to get to know the city ever since.

Neema Adam, Front-End Engineer

What's the city like? I've never been to Africa or Tanzania before.

Dar es Salaam is pretty hot compared to where I'm from, but it might be normal compared to the temperatures where you are. But I went south for uni at the Mbeya University of Science and Technology. I studied telecommunications and engineering there.

Seems like a pretty natural transition for what you do.

Right. I currently work at ClickPesa as a front end engineer. At ClickPesa, we're building infrastructure to help people make transactions on the internet, cross-border transactions at low costs.

But I’m also working on a side project with some friends called Flexbeats. Music producers in Africa can use the platform to showcase and sell their beats to a global audience.

I might have dug into your Twitter profile a little too hard… but I notice that you have some really great playlists on your Spotify! I’d never heard of amapiano before. Clearly music plays an important role in your life.

<laughs> Oh no, you found my Twitter! But yeah, I spend most of my time listening to music. I get really stressed when I can't find the good music that would help me get into the vibe for the day. So whenever I have time, I'll make a bunch of playlists. Then when I need to listen to something, I'll just play any of my playlists, and I know they'll be good.

Video Interview

Thoughts Out Loud

Any tips on putting together a good playlist?

"Good Taste"

Fair enough. From the sounds of your side project, you and your friends must bond over music a lot.

Actually, we didn't.


We bonded over code. I would say these guys knew nothing about music before this project, so they got to learn a little more about music once they started working. So yeah, it was a learning moment for them.

How did you get into coding?

Out of curiosity. By that time, I was a graphic designer. I was using Adobe Illustrator. More accurately, I was a kid playing with her brother's computer trying to mimic what my brother was doing. So I was a graphic designer.

By that time, I was very impressed with Adobe Illustrator. It was so nice to use and had a great user experience. I wondered, “If someone wanted to make something like this, what would they do? Or how do people make programs like this?”

So I went down that rabbit hole, and long story short, here I am today working full-time as that person I was wondering about.

How old were you when you started playing with Adobe Illustrator?

I would say around 11.

Sounds like you new pretty early on that coding or making products was what you wanted to do.

I would say so, yeah.

What other big dreams do you want to accomplish?

Right now?

Or when you were younger.

When I was younger, I wanted to be an astronaut, but life has humbled me. So now I just want to ship FlexBeats, get a bunch of users, and see how it goes. I've become too realistic, I would say.

Say a little more about your dreams.

What I want to do is just create products that people would use and would give them the convenience to accomplish what they want to accomplish. So even if it's not FlexBeats, maybe it's the next thing that I'll be working on. But I just want to make cool things that people would use.

What's the coolest thing that you've been using lately?

So there's this editing software I've downloaded recently. When we started making content, I started exploring editing softwares that we can use, and I downloaded DaVinci Resolve. It's been so easy to just figure out what I want. Whenever I get stuck, I search and the first answer is from the forums. So it's been awesome.

When does inspiration strike for you?

Any time, but mostly maybe when I'm doing something. I’m not talking to anyone, I don’t have to think about anything else. For example, when I'm doing the dishes, when I'm cleaning, cooking, when I'm taking a shower, those are the times that I get inspiration about something.

Or when I use a product and it annoys me at that moment. I'm like, “This is just sh*t engineering, and I could do better.” So I get inspired right there.

When inspiration hits, do you drop everything to write it down? Or do you just remember it?

Oh, no, no, no, I don't remember it. I have to write it down in my Notion. I have a folder for every year where I just write stuff. And in each folder, there's an idea page dedicated for idea dumps. I haven't done most of the stuff that I wrote down, but it's just good to write them down. It's a good dopamine hit.

Has that list grown longer or shorter?

Longer. Especially with ChatGPT. Whenever an idea hits, I go to Chat GPT and just ask it some questions to lay down some facts about what I'm thinking about. After that, I'll take the link, go to Notion, write it down, and attach the link for future Neema to take care of that.

What's the wildest idea you've ever come up with?

Let's see. I don't know. I'm a very practical person. Maybe I can tell you the most recent idea. Let me just check out my Notion real quick and I can tell you my most recent idea.

Looking forward to it.

All right, opening up my Notion. So here I go. My most recent idea is, do you remember that link I sent you for booking the call?

Yes, I remember that.

Yeah, so that's from a very cool open source project. So I want to make something cool like that, but for time tracking. I like to know how much time I spend on what activities, but most time-tracking apps and extensions I've used are pretty bad, and they're focused on things that I don't really care about.

I'm just trying to know how much time I've spent on what, get that statistic, and just look at it. So I want to make something like that, but I also want to do it open-source, so that it's free for anyone to use or to modify.

I’m terrified to see how much time I spend on social media. Are you the kind of person that has to have a packed schedule every single day or do you like to play it loose?

I can't actually have a packed day schedule because I have a full-time job. So my full-time job is my schedule. Maybe after work, I have my own things to do. So I don't really like having a packed schedule.

Speaking of your job, how’d you end up in blockchain?

I got into blockchain because of GetPaid, the product that we’re building. I’ve heard of blockchain, but I didn't know how to get started because I didn't see a use case for myself at that time.

But then when we were building GetPaid, and it all made sense. Before I started working at ClickPesa, I was a freelancer and the platforms I used would charge a lot for a project when a client is paying. So working on Getpaid made a lot of sense because now I'll be able to receive funds from my clients abroad with minimum fees. So that was cool.

Starting out as a freelancer then being able to work on a product that you’d use yourself must have felt good.

Yeah. That was a full circle moment.

What problems keep you up at night that you want to solve?

The problem that I would love to solve is to enable anyone to be able to get started setting up an online business. So that could be anything. It could be maybe a music producer trying to sell their beats. It could be a math genius trying to maybe sell their mathematics courses online, or maybe their study guides to their fellow students. You could use the existing platforms, but they're not really built for the African market.

You'd find the popular payment methods are sometimes not available in Africa. For example, Stripe. Say you want to become a writer on Medium and get paid, but then Medium wants you to use Stripe. Stripe is not available in most countries in Africa. So it's limitations like those that would discourage someone to start. That is something that I would like to be able to solve. That's what keeps me up.


Behind the Code

Ready for more?

We’ve got some more Decentralife stories lined up for the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned! But while you’re waiting, you can learn more about how we’re bringing builders in blockchain to the forefront here.

And if you’re itching to watch more video content, come hang out at the Stellar YouTube channel!