Mrs Janet Maingi, Andela Kenya Country Director, says Andela recognises the importance of growing the next generation of software engineers. PHOTO / Courtesy

Andela, the technology company that seeks to solve the global technical talent shortage, was launched in 2014 to solve the global technical talent shortage by building and investing in distributed engineering teams with African software engineers.

With a presence in Lagos, Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali and, most recently, Accra and Cairo, the company has hired more than 1,300 engineers so far. The majority of these software experts are working full-time spread out in leading technology companies around the world.

Venture-backed, Andela has to date secured over $181 million (Ksh18 billion) in investment from Generation Investment Management, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Serena Ventures, Google Ventures and CRE Venture Capital amongst others.

JANET MAINGI, who was appointed Andela Kenya Country Director in May 2019, spoke to Luke Mulunda on the demand-verses-supply situation for software engineers in Kenya and how the organization is changing the equation in the quest to stimulate economic growth through technology.

BUSINESS TODAY: What is the current situation of software engineers supply in Kenya and how is this impacting on growth in the technology industry and economy at large?

JANET MAINGI: Kenya is one of the leading African markets creating tech solutions, securing investment for startups and solving problems that are common on the continent. As a growing tech hub, technology and tech-driven startups in Nairobi especially, have made it possible for tech enthusiasts to turn their passions into careers. This causes a ripple effect where we’re seeing the number of software engineers and other related roles increase. It creates a belief in the career, in the industry and the future.

As more people are able to pursue their career in technology, the tech ecosystems continues to grow, the quality of tech talent increases and we’re seeing more global companies willing to bet on Kenya.

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Andela came to Kenya because the statistics backed up its decisions. In 2015, Andela leadership shortlisted five high potential countries and opened up applications. Applicants from Kenya were over ten times more than applications from other countries. The quality of applicants was also impressive. This was proof that there was a lot of tech talent on the ground looking to accelerate their careers in the tech industry and this is still the case.

We’re are in the business of providing a platform for software engineers to grow their careers and lead on a global scale. We believe that our software engineers will be responsible for creating solutions that will not just solve problems on the continent, but ultimately solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

BT: How Do Andela managers ensure they get the right brains to drive this cause in Kenya?

JANET: When we launched in Kenya four years ago, engineering talent was only channelled through our four-year Fellowship,  where applicants had to complete a series of online and in-person technical assessments to help us understand their skills, learning velocity and values alignment.

As of 2019, we’ve scaled our operations effectively in Kenya as well as our other hubs across Africa. We’ve expanded our business model and we’re  now recruiting mid to senior engineers who have at least two years and over four years of experience, respectively. Be it for the Fellowship in Kigali or the experienced software engineers, we are on the lookout for passion, potential and grit.

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BT: Well, are there specific segments of software development targeted?

JANET: We’re looking for software engineers proficient in Ruby, Javascript (React, Node, ES6+, Angular), Python (Django or Flask) and Native Mobile Technologies for iOS or Android.

BT: After tapping these skills in software engineering skills, how do you eventually utilize them?

JANET: Andela’s software engineers work remotely on global challenges, within global engineering teams. Our distributed model enables our engineers to still play an important role in their local ecosystems. Aside from what they do within the company, some of our engineers are leaders or members of the growing tech communities such as ForLoop, Teencode, Startup Grind, Prograte, Facebook Developer Circles, to mention a few.

Andela’s first all-female software developers cohort in Kenya.

BT: What is the endgame of this initiative in Kenya and Africa at large?

JANET: In 2019, we’re looking to hire 44 senior software engineers in Kenya and 220 in Africa which we believe will contribute to the growth of our tech ecosystem.

Additionally, Andela recognises the importance of growing the next generation of software engineers. We do so through our program – the Andela Learning Community – where we’ve supported over 33,000 learners to gain web and android development skills across Africa. This program is in its fourth phase, and we’ve partnered with other tech companies such as Google, Udacity and Pluralsight to provide those going through the program with the tools to become globally competitive.

BT: What’s the qualification and procedure to join the programme?

JANET: Our focus now is hiring mid-level engineers [with two years experience] and senior software engineers [with over 4 years experience] who are proficient in Ruby, Javascript [React, ES6+, Angular], Python [Django or Flask] and Native Mobile Technologies for iOS and Android. As mid to senior software engineers, they also have to be passionate about guidance and mentorship to our more junior engineers.

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