There’s a shortage of software developers in the U.S. Demand for coders is huge and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is investing in training African engineers who don’t always get the opportunity to become programmers, BusinessInsider reported.
That shortage has created a boom in coding bootcamps, which charge tens of thousands of dollars for a few months of training, and it has increased outsourcing to developers all over the world, especially Eastern Europe and India.
Andela, a Lagos and Nairobi-based company that trains and outsources software coders, plans to open a third office in Africa this year with the help of $24 million in funding from Zuckerberg.
After two years in business, Andela has trained close to 200 engineers from a pool of 40,000 applicants, Quartz reported. They get six months of intensive training, followed by three-and-a-half years of full-time remote apprenticeship with American tech companies like Microsoft, Google, and IBM. Andela developers work for those companies from Andela campuses in Lagos and Nairobi.
Much of the external investment in online African ventures has been European, according to Quartz. Silicon Valley has been relatively slow to turn to the opportunity investment of African digital start-ups.
Andela is an exception.
Andela’s first funding round attracted U.S. venture capitalists including America Online founder Steve Case; seed-stage venture capital fund Founder Collective; San Francisco-based frontier tech firm Rothenberg Ventures; early-stage digital investors Melo7 Tech Partners, and Facebook early member Chris Hughes.
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Now in its second round of funding, Andela got the attention and money of Mark Zuckerberg along with GV (formerly Google Ventures; plus participants from its first funding round that include early Twitter investor Spark Capital; impact investor Omidyar Network, and San Francisco-based Learn Capital, Quartz reported.
Helping Andela train more African coders to get tech jobs is the first major investment for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The social issues-oriented fund was set up in December by Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife, Priscilla Chan, Forbes reported.
Andela CEO Jeremy Johnson says his partner companies have been pleased with the quality of work coders are producing, and no one is dropping them, BusinessInsider reported.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some challenges. Communicating with the U.S. teams can be difficult at first, said Chibuzor Obiora, who had no previous coding experience when he decided to apply to Andela and got accepted.
“You can never communicate enough,” Obiora told BusninessInsider. “But companies are increasingly using off-site programmers, so they aren’t completely unprepared for this. You just have to get into the workflow.”
Obiora was looking for work in Lagos after completing a degree in electrical engineering when Andela popped up in his Twitter feed.
Johnson says he’s planning to announce a third African city by the end of 2016.