CEO & Founder
Eric spent the majority of his career in Finance between the Investment Advisory and Investment Banking world.
Attending the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of business had the opposite effect of cementing his career in finance, but rather triggered a deep sense of dissatisfaction and uncertainty about his career trajectory. A year of self-examination led those feelings to be supplanted by a desire to enter the world of Fashion. Introduced to it at an early age by his mother, Eric felt like Fashion alone still would not suffice. Hailing from Senegal (West Africa), and realizing the deep impact that education had on the women of his family socio-economically and culturally - starting with his grandmother’s introduction to college back in the 1920’s - he deemed it to be a great addition to his new fashion company called Le Dessein. Le Dessein’s mission was to provide the opportunity of an education to underprivileged girls in Africa by featuring artworks they drew onto its fashion, and in exchange, contribute a portion of the profits to their yearly school tuitions.
Eric’s third life started as a result of always unsolicitedly nudging his friends to look for a therapist. After several candid conversations, Eric realized that a good friend of his had real challenges finding one that she liked (and that she was not the only one to share this sentiment). It inspired him to try and help figure out if there were ways to make finding the right therapist easier.
For some, cost and stigma played a huge factor, and for others, the health care system’s lack of cultural competency was also a huge impediment. Finding a therapist one felt comfortable opening to while being of color, or as a member of the LGBTQ+ community was quite difficult – and considerably more challenging for double or triple minorities.
Enter AYANA therapy - a user-friendly app Eric launched that enables matching marginalized communities with compatible licensed therapists based on their unique experiences and identities across race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and ability. It allows for flexible, convenient and anonymous online communication (text, call and video call), and addresses barriers to care such as transportation issues, busy schedules and mobility challenges that people may face.
Eric strongly believed that if finding a reflection of yourself in your counselor was what you needed in order to find a safe space, then you ought to be ENTITLED to it – hence the name of our app named AYANA, which means “Mirror” in Bengali. The overriding belief was (and still is) that such minority providers are extremely rare or simply did not exist. They DO! They are just hard to locate, hence seemingly inaccessible.
Eric has for a long time suffered from very severe and debilitating issues of depression. Seldom in life, he felt is one ever presented with the fortune of working on something whose very mission can provide healing to oneself and large communities.
Eric feels that such rare type of alignment must be honored and it is what he and his team are striving to do in the form of counseling and therapy: listening and providing safe space for every dismissed, neglected and ignored voice out there in the form of counseling and therapy.