Andela has raised $24 million in a funding round led by GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an investment vehicle founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan. The talent accelerator was founded by Iyin Aboyeji and Jeremy Johnson in Lagos, and its unusual model is to democratise access to coding skills by paying some of the Africa’s smartest people to learn to code.
Co-founder/CEO, Jeremy Johnson said, “The goal is to cultivate a next generation of founders and CTOs of great companies across Africa.” The Chan-Zuckerberg fund is aimed at solving social issues, and betting on potentially massive projects and this investment (which happens to be their first) ties in nicely with Andela’s intent to train more African engineers.
Andela is famous for it’s incredibly low acceptance rate. Since its inception two years ago (it was known as Fora then), Andela has trained around 200 engineers from over 40,000 applicants (damn). The chosen ones are taken through a rigorous training programme, after that they get connected with Andela’s technology partners.
These partners range from venture-backed startups in Silicon Valley and New York to global industry leaders including IBM and Microsoft.. The developers spend 2 weeks with said technology partners, become full-time staff, and return to work from Andela’s campuses in their home countries (Lagos and Nairobi, at the moment).
Talking about the investment, Mark Zuckerberg said, “We live in a world where talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not. Andela’s mission is to close that gap. Companies get access to great developers, and developers in Africa get the opportunity to use their skills and support their communities. Priscilla and I believe in supporting innovative models of learning wherever they are around the world — and what Andela is doing is pretty amazing.”
If this isn’t validation from the big man himself, I don’t know what is. Through its technical leadership program, Andela has provided a way for talented African programmers to enter into the global tech economy.
Andela developers have also played a major role in building and supporting technology communities in both Lagos and Nairobi, participating in hackathons, hosting meet-ups, and forming local developer groups.
In the words of Andela’s Director of Operations, Seni Sulyman, “Andela’s mission statement to develop hundreds of thousands of world-class software developers in Nigeria and across Africa is very compelling. The ambition is so bold, and the energy it creates is so incredible, that I couldn’t imagine walking away from the challenge. I fully expect alumni of Andela to be launching the companies that will lead the technical revolution across Africa.”
Asides from their campuses in Nigeria (Lagos) and Kenya (Nairobi), the plan is to open shop in another African country at some point this year. They are also looking to 2x the number of developers they have trained so far.
Jeremy has prioritised scale over profit, and the real challenge is in proving that their thesis works at scale, and the quality of their developers does not drop as their number rises. Looking at things in that light, it doesn’t hurt to have $24 million in the bank, and the Justin Bieber of tech in close proximity.