In recent times, Andela has been in the news consistently but in spite of the massive media coverage the company has enjoyed, very few people can convincingly describe what Andela is; even though everyone was aware of Facebook’s investment in the startup and the exit of the Nigerian co-founder, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji. It didn’t come as a surprise when the company decided to clear the air on some issues regarding its identity.
“We are global by nature and right from the start. Andela is really a combination of passion from different parts of the world. It is really the knotting of minds – people that have come together to find a very similar vision statement. Ultimately, Andela started off in Nigeria because this is where the first class began. Nigeria is very much at the center of Andela but the company is registered in the US for obvious reasons so we think our identity is global,” – Seni Sulyman, Director of Operations at Andela.
According to Seni, Andela mostly trains software developers hence they often partner with software development companies. Andela-trained developers are embedded in the teams of the software companies so they are full time members of development teams of Andela’s partners.
Andela is a venture-backed startup that is building the next generation of technology leaders in Africa. The premise is that brilliance is evenly distributed but opportunity is not. To set the record straight.
“We believe that around the world we find brilliant people in different spaces but not all of them have opportunities that others have access to. To do that, we basically recruit some of the best and most talented developers we can find on the continent,” said Sulyman.
According to Nadayar Enegesi, Andela’s Director of Engineering and Training, Andela develops the developers into top class technical leaders and then place them in companies around the world that are doing amazing things in tech.
The curriculum is basically structured as a natural progression – for entry level developers to mid-level developers to senior developers or technical team lead to project manager, product manager, and software architect.
“Over time we are going to be adding more roles to our pipeline but this is the blueprint that we have now,” Enegesi said.
When TechCity visited Andela’s expansive space in Lagos, a handful of developers at the facility and management explained that, upon making it into the training program, they would spend a few months undergoing what is best described as a leadership program.
Brice Nkengsa, Andela’s Director of Engineering said: “Once they are done with that we put them on projects where they get to work with different clients on different teams around the world. They work from our office and some of them get to travel out.”
Andela’s Big Success Stories
We now have over 100 developers in our office who are self-driven, very ambitious and proactive. They ask a lot of questions. That’s what we are trying to do – we are trying to build leaders who think and want to create.
The big success stories, Andela reps tell TechCity, are the people and they view this from two angles.
“One is we now have over 100 developers in our office who are self-driven, very ambitious and proactive. They ask a lot of questions. That’s what we are trying to do – we are trying to build leaders who think and want to create. In addition to that, all of this is made possible by a team that supports Andela – finance, operations, facilities management, logistics,” Sulyman said.
There is also a perception of Andela being more than a workplace.
“People at Andela are committed to improving their lives and are really committed to contributing to the continent and the world in the long term. Many of them are working on projects for foreign clients. They will take that experience and bring it home for local clients. And in the future when they build their own companies they will serve not just the local market but the global market,” said Enegesi.
The Biggest Challenge for the Company
We need to start thinking about how we can get out there and start impacting our local communities as well. This is not something Andela should be 100% responsible for, it should be the responsibility of the general local tech community.
Beyond the company’s current good times, looking at the future should be an issue of utmost concern to Andela and already many commenters are pointing out some grey areas; one of which is maintaining quality as the company grows. The second, how to ensure that there are sufficient top quality spaces for everyone who participates in the training program because the Andela success story is as good as dead if developers do not get good placements at the end of the program.
“We need to start thinking about how we can get out there and start impacting our local communities as well. This is not something Andela should be 100% responsible for, it should be the responsibility of the general local tech community. What you will see eventually is that Andela fellows will join forces with the local tech communities and start transferring these practices,” Enegesi adds.
The Andela success story is just emerging and there are several giant steps ahead for the foreign local company. In the short term, it can help in bridging the gap between African software developers and their counterparts elsewhere. But in the long term, Andela will have no choice but to go local in order to help Africa solve its numerous problems.