Meet the start-up leading the Nigerian technological boom - Dispatch Weekly

April 4, 2017 - Reading time: 6 minutes

Africa is the world’s largest pool of untapped talent for top technologists and problem solvers. It contains 6 out of the 10 fastest growing economies of the world, and has the youngest, fastest-growing population on earth. Their only barrier is the small number of opportunities available to them.

Meanwhile, in the US there are, on average, 5 job openings for every software engineer. In emerging economies like those in most African countries, qualified, talented individuals struggle to find jobs in those same industries. Meet Andela, the young tech start-up working to bridge this gap between talent in Africa and job supply in the US.

Andela was founded in 2014 by Jeremy Johnson, Christina Sass, Ian Carnevale and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji. By 2016, it had already secured $24 million in a round of funding led by the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative, created by Mark Zuckerburg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan. With over 50,000 applicants and only a 0.5% acceptance rate, Andela is harder to get into than Harvard university.

Andela’s success is partly due to it’s incredibly hard selection process. This highly selective start-up scours Africa for the top technologists and problem solvers, and if their recruitment slogan is any indication – and it is – their unique selection process is guaranteed to ensure only top talent is selected:

“Day-long technical interview sound tough? Try all week.

The Selection Process

During the first round of the selection process, applicants must go through a series of psychometric tests, take-home coding tests, and in-person interviews. Those lucky enough, or talented enough, to get through the first round then are brought on-site for the second round of selection, which entails an intensive one week evaluation. During this second round, applicants must go through product building, and rapid feedback incorporation tests. Out of their 50,000 applications, Andela has hired around 320 developers now based in their Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, and Kenyan headquarters.

Most of the Andela developers have four-year degrees in CS or Engineering, and have either worked at a start-up before, or founded their own. They are offered a salaried four-year fellowship programme where they are able to work with any of their 60 partner companies. These currently range from Google and IBM, to venture-backed startups like Gusto and Payoff.

Once selected, successful applicants are put through six months of intensive training before sent to work. Trainees endure intensive simulations of every, and any, environment that developers might encounter whilst working with companies. Priding itself in their personnel, Andela provides high performing engineering teams with expertise across various platforms.


Image Source: Andela

The Andela Promise

Companies spend, on average, an additional 25% of developer salaries on recruitment fees.

Andela believes it can reduce these fees to a near zero. Here is how.

By creating a 4 step approach to matching teams with companies, Andela is able to reduce the HR, recruitment, and tax costs incurred by companies hiring themselves. Their four step process consists of the following:

  • Step one, have their engineering team evaluate the technical needs of the company, and build a team of Andela developers with the according expertise needed.
  • Step two, design an on-boarding plan for the Andela team to follow. The plan is designed by engineers with a deep understanding of your code base and internal systems.
  • Step three, have your own company’s dedicated on-boarding specialist get the Andela team up to speed on your code base and internal system.
  • Step four, let Andela fly their team over to your headquarters for at least two-weeks of in-person rapport building with the team.

On top of the HR and recruitment costs, Andela is able to eliminate the time your company would have spent on hiring software engineers. Their effective and efficient process ensures fast-paced technology companies benefit fully from a team of software engineers, without any of the costs of hiring.

The Future of Andela

andela-officeImage source: Glassdoor

But Andela doesn’t just have an incredibly impressive team of developers at their disposal, an astounding $24 million in raised funds, and an array of technologically adept companies after their expertise. One of the major issues engineering and developer industries struggle with is female numbers, yet Andela manages to knock that one off the park as well. The global average for female developers is 5.8%, whilst an astounding 26% of Andela developers are female.

With diversity and equality of opportunity as their very core, Andela has become a start-up to watch. Recognised as one of the most innovative companies of 2017, Andela could be one of the leading charges in the technological boom Nigeria is experiencing.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.