Building the next generation of tech leaders in Africa

Monday, February 11, 2019

Alumni startup Andela receives $180 million investment

Back in 2016, on a sticky late-August day, a guy named Mark walked through the streets of Yaba, a historic neighbourhood in Lagos, Nigeria. He was keeping it low key. Just a few handlers and security guards sweating buckets in the heat as they all made the two-kilometre journey on foot.

As local newscasts revealed the next day, the Mark in question was Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg — and he was on his way to visit a new, local startup company, Andela.

Andela. That would be the same startup in which he’d just invested $24 million U.S. through his Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Under the initiative’s mission of “advancing human potential and promoting equality,” the financing of Andela made complete sense. Andela is a company that takes the brightest and most brilliant math, tech and engineering minds in Africa, and then trains them to become accomplished, top-tier developers. Eventually, the developers, known as “fellows,” go on to take full-time roles in more than 100 partner companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Viacom.

Andela co-founders

L to R: Nadayar Enegesi (BCS ’13) computer science alumnus and Andela co-founder, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji (BA ’12), legal studies alumnus and Andela co-founder, and Brice Nkengsa (BSE ’12), software engineering alumnus and Andela co-founder

CNN has called Andela, which has locations in Lagos, Nairobi and Kampala, “one of the most selective training programs in the world” and “… harder to get into than Harvard.” Indeed, of 70,000 resumes the company has received, only 500 people have been accepted.

And now Andela has received its largest round of funding to date. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s investment firm, Generation Investment Management, is leading a $100 million funding round, bringing Andela’s total venture capital haul to $180 million.

Extreme recruiting isn’t about elitism, insists co-founder Nadayar Enegesi, who graduated from the University of Waterloo with a degree in computer science. In fact, it’s about breaking down education barriers — and lifting up the hundreds of developers it has trained since the company launched in 2014.

“There is brilliance literally everywhere on the planet,” Enegesi says. “What Andela is essentially doing is scouting really brilliant people who have some sort of disposition toward technology, and creating an environment to thrive, learn and grow quickly.”

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