07:17 pm
25 October 2016

Why Your Next Brilliant Developer Will Come From Africa

Global talent accelerator Andela has a simple business model: find geniuses in Africa and train them for the best software developer jobs in the world.

Launched in Nigeria last June, Andela accepts less than 1 percent of its 15,000 applicants and trains them at its campus in Lagos for four years. After the first six months of training, students begin working remotely for companies like Microsoft and tech startup Udacity while still receiving support from Andela’s team of mentors. The company makes money by taking a fee for placing its students.

Unlike traditional education startups that charge tuition, Andela’s model allows it to pay its students, who can earn five times the average middle-class Nigerian income while being trained. Employers, meanwhile, are able to access high-quality tech talent at an affordable price.

Andela was co-founded by Inc. 30 Under 30 alum Jeremy Johnson, a Princeton University dropout, and Christina Sass, a former deputy director at the Clinton Global Initiative. Johnson previously co-founded the online education startup 2U, which he left in May of 2014 after the company completed its initial public offering, raising $104 million.

On Thursday, Andela announced a Series A financing round led by Spark Capital, which is making its first investment in Africa and joins existing investors including America Online co-founder Steve Case, and Omidyar Network, the investment arm of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

While Andela began generating revenue last October and just recently reached break even, the company is not focused on turning a profit at this stage, according to Johnson.

“Our intention is to grow as quickly as possible and train as many genius level developers as we can find and bring through the program,” he says. “We plan to train 100,000 young people across the continent over the next 10 years.”

That number may seem ambitious, but it represents only a small portion of the 1.8 million unfilled developer jobs, Johnson says.

Andela recently opened its second location, in Kenya, and aims to double the size of its Nigerian training center before the end of the year. Among the company’s other goals for 2015 is identifying a third country in Africa to build its next training center.

“We’re off to a good start,” Johnson says, “but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”