We started Andela five years ago to solve a simple but pervasive global challenge: Brilliance is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not. While our mission will never change, our strategy to achieve it has evolved as we’ve grown and learned more about both our market as well as the structural challenges that prevent brilliance and opportunity from connecting.
Our initial strategy was to identify high-potential talent on the African continent, train them in software development (with a heavy emphasis on remote work and soft skills) and then place them as full-time distributed engineers. We saw an opportunity to build a business while investing in talent creation across Africa, and that’s exactly what we did.
Today, Andela is the most elite engineering organization in Africa, representing over 1500 engineers and working with more than 200 of the world’s most respected technology companies. We’re also on track to nearly double our revenue year over year. As the talent world has evolved, we have as well, and over the past few years it’s become increasingly clear that the world needs what Andela provides: high quality engineering-as-a-service. It’s also become clear, however, that the majority of the demand is for more experienced talent.
As a result of that, we began sourcing and assessing mid-level and senior engineers, and they now represent more than 25% of our talent base.
While placing teams led by senior engineers has helped drive additional junior placement, it hasn’t been enough. We now have significantly more junior talent than we are able to place. Just as important, those junior engineers want, and deserve, authentic work experience that we are not able to provide. As a result, we’ve come to the conclusion that Andela’s next phase of growth requires a strategic shift in how we think about talent.
Historically, we have viewed our talent supply as being primarily junior with some mid-level and senior engineers. Moving forward, we’ll be shifting our approach to be focused on senior talent, with junior talent layered in on top of it. While nuanced, this shift in focus will allow us to better align with what the market needs, and in the process better connect brilliance with opportunity at all levels.
As part of this shift, we have also had to make an extremely difficult decision as it relates to a number of talented junior engineers. Today, we are announcing that we are closing the D0 program in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. Moving forward, we will be focusing D0 training efforts on our pan-African hub in Rwanda. In addition, we will be letting go of approximately 250 Andelans in Nigeria and Uganda, with an additional 170 potentially impacted in Kenya, who we don’t believe we’ll be able to find meaningful work for over the next year.
The well-being of our employees, both past and present, is our immediate priority. We are providing holistic support programs for those who are affected by this shift, including ongoing access to learning programs and job placement services. We have committed a range of financial and emotional resources to former employees, and those who are leaving will continue to have access to the strongest engineering network on the African continent. Once an Andelan, always an Andelan.
In addition, we’ve partnered with innovation hubs in each country (CcHUB in Nigeria, iHub in Kenya, and Innovation Village in Uganda) to help connect the impacted developers with opportunities in their local ecosystem. Together, we have identified over 60 companies who are looking to hire top quality junior engineering talent. In addition, these hubs will offer impacted engineers the opportunity to use their co-working spaces free of charge for the next three months.
Going forward, we will hire another 700 experienced engineers by the end of 2020 in order to keep up with demand from our partners. To continue creating junior engineering talent at scale, we will invest in the Andela Learning Community, through which we’ve already trained more than 30,000 learners in software engineering fundamentals. Over the next three years, we plan to cultivate more than 100,000 engineers across the continent who will, in time, contribute to the growth of their local tech ecosystems as well as the broader technology community.
All too often, opportunity is limited by race, gender, and nationality. We’re working to chip away at this by placing African engineers on global tech teams and, in the process, changing the world’s perception of talent.
No story of growth is perfectly smooth, and these last few weeks have been amongst the hardest. Yet despite this, I’m confident that we’ll emerge stronger and more connected both to the market we serve and to the mission we are working to advance. And I look forward to trying to hire back many of these extraordinary engineers down the road – if you don’t get there first.
CEO and Co-Founder of Andela.