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From the Magazine Techonomy Events

Andela Brings African Tech Talent to the Rest of the World

Andela co-founder Christina Sass will be speaking at Techonomy 2018 this Tuesday. Tune in to our homepage to see her live from our stage.

“Brilliance is evenly distributed,” said Andela co-founder Christina Sass onstage at Techonomy NYC in May 2018. She was talking about people. Her company aims to be the answer to a software development and programming talent shortage, widening the search so employers can find them in new places. In the process, Andela is creating economic opportunity in developing countries.

Tolu Komolafe, one of Andela’s most senior developers, and co-founder of the Ladies in Tech organization, at work in EPIC Tower in Lagos, Nigeria. (Photo courtesy of Andela)

According to Code.org and statistics from The Conference Board, there are more than 544,000 open computing jobs in the United States, more positions than the nation’s universities and colleges can hope to fill with recent graduates. Andela’s response is to identify talented young people in Africa, train them in software development, and place them in jobs at companies around the world without requiring them to move.

Andela offers a window into a promising possible future for work: A distributed workforce that is more diverse and creates economic opportunity where there was little before.

Founded in 2014 and venture funded, Andela serves as a recruiter, filling open developer roles at partner companies. But it does so by turning to the largely untapped talent pool of Africa, home to some of the world’s fastest-growing internet-savvy populations as well as sophisticated tech enclaves. Using tests and boot camps, the company selects coders and programmers and then trains them for six months. These young coders often have educational backgrounds in computer science, though they generally lack the practical experience needed to turn their studies into a career.

But with Andela, they don’t get your usual workplace training experience. On top of receiving a computer, salary, and professional training, the package includes subsidized housing and regular meals. The company’s budding developers are then contracted out to companies across the globe, working remotely. At times the developers head to lengthy, on-site visits at their contract companies in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, building work relationships and solidifying ties.

Andela serves as the employer of record but assigns each worker full-time to the client. Some now have already worked for their companies for more than two years. Since July 2016, Andela has partnered with The Zebra, a car insurance comparison site, which has brought 13 engineers onto their team in Austin, Texas. “In addition to [their] technical contributions, they’ve also brought an energy that is infectious,” Meetesh Karia, CTO of The Zebra says of the Andela engineers. “They’ve become a core part of our team.”

Andela has attracted $81 million in funding from investors including South African-based venture capital firm CRE Venture Capital, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Spark Capital, among others. And the company is swimming in qualified applicants, enabling it to hire only the most talented coders. It now has more than 1,200 employees, many based in African urban hubs, including Lagos, Nigeria; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kampala, Uganda, with more to come. Andela’s Kigali, Rwanda office is slated to open in January 2019.

This company’s aspirations go way beyond its own profits. Andela hopes that the jump-start it gives trainees will not only give them work experience but inspire them to found local or global startups of their own.

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