Access to tech talent dominates conversations in Africa and Africave is the latest player promising to give organisations access to Africa’s engineering talent.
Founded in January 2020, Africave is building distributed teams to help organisations scale their hiring efforts.
It is not a new proposition, companies like Andela and Gebeya make the same promise to global brands. But recently, the idea has come under question, following Andela’s decision to pivot from training young engineering talent.
Beyond the pivot are other issues. In September 2019, citing a saturation of talent in the US, it’s primary market, Andela laid off over 400 junior developers.
There have been more layoffs in 2020, as the company is having trouble finding placement for some developers. It bears asking if there is a demand problem.
According to the co-founder and COO of Africave, Duke Ekezie Joseph, supply outstrips demand in Africa.
He told TechCabal: “Right now, what we’re trying to do is correct that balance.”
Africave is making that correction with their pool of software developers and connecting them to companies that need them. One way they differentiate themselves is the companies they target.
A focus on small companies
With many developer shops targeting some of the world’s biggest companies, there’s competition at the top.
The big companies can pay the high price many talent companies ask. But are there enough big companies in the world for all talent outsourcing companies to be profitable?
This is why Africave wants to serve companies in the pre-seed to Series B stage.
According to Duke Ekezie: “Smaller companies want to compete with big companies like Microsoft and Google and they have two problems. The first is that they want full time engineering teams but they can’t afford it. So they usually outsource and hire freelancers or go to developer shops like Andela.”
They’re often dissatisfied with freelancers but cannot afford some of the bigger developer shops. So Africave provides affordable alternatives for these companies while promising better pay for developers.
Africave does not hire developers, but provides them on demand.
“We have a pool of developers who are all vetted and we can provide them to companies specific to the demand of their project,” Ekezie says.
They have a three step vetting process.
“We have a database of developers. Whenever we have a project, we look into the pool and mirror the requirements to the skills required.”
The company reaches out to the developers and sends them coding tests. The tests qualify them to receive invitations to work on sample projects.
Their submissions on the sample projects are checked and the last stage is an interview with Africave’s CTO.
It’s a rigorous process, but the company believes developers go through with it, because Africave can provide the flexibility they require.
Africave promises flexibility and security to developers
According to Duke Ekezie, “There are a lot of African companies that do not value developers but here, we prioritise flexibility for our developers.”
Africave believes that software developers prioritise job security and flexibility. On the one hand, they do not provide the security of offering their developers full time contracts. But they make up for this by connecting them with projects which are more long term.
“We don’t hire developers and keep them on the bench. Because of the quality of our service, companies will always hire us.”
Their promise means developers are always employed, yet remain flexible to choose projects they want to work on.
A partnership with the European software corporation, SAP and the grant that followed will provide some belief for the company which is targeting $2 million in revenue in 12 months.
A roadmap to $2 million in revenue
“Our 12 month goal is to hit $2 million in revenue. We want to onboard 100-200 developers in that timeframe and get them all working on projects.”
Duke Ekezie believes that they can achieve this in a couple of ways. One strategy is targeting accelerators because of their access to companies that need developers.
“We try to tap into these accelerators and we also have a sales team that pitches to early stage companies. We also believe that an important part is having access to investors.”
The company also has plans to expand in the future, with an eye on Ghana and Uganda.
But first, it will need to win over developers and the small companies they are targeting.
In the end, Africave’s pragmatism may be the key to its success.
The startup is not looking to take on training junior developers in the short term, but to provide small companies globally with African developers who want better pay and flexibility to choose their projects.