Instead of making headlines for acute droughts, food crisis or malnourished children, African countries like Rwanda and Kenya are now coming to the spotlight as technical hubs for European companies. And Code of Africa acts as the modern-day enabler, bridging gaps between Europe and Africa
Text: Sayanti Sengupta
Life often takes us on unknown paths only to make us realise our purpose. Something similar happened to Anja Schlösser, the Managing Director of Code of Africa (CoA), who felt a personal connection with the African youth while being on her sabbatical. It had long been a hopeless situation for many Africans who finished their education only to find a saturated job market and no use for their skills.
Anja and business partners envisioned to turn this around and create a company that provides livelihood opportunities to qualified professionals and entrepreneurs and increase local employment options. This would not only create a reliable cash flow for the fresh graduates, but also enable them to continue working in their own countries instead of migrating elsewhere.
Soon after, CoA was born with the purpose of reaching into the untapped tech talent market in East Africa and connecting it to the demand for software related needs in countries like Germany, Australia and Switzerland.
The name Code of Africa has a two-way significance: First, it gives an understanding that the company works in software development and digital applications with codes in every day life. Second, it quintessentially upholds the concept of unity in diversity- the culture, the colours, the stories, the traditions and everything that Africa represents- brought together into a codified whole and presented to the world in a new light like never before.
Making Meaningful Partnerships
Understanding the need to build long term local partnerships, CoA has partnered with Awesomity Lab (Kigali, Rwanda) and Sisitech (Nairobi, Kenya), software designing companies that incubate and train several coders and developers to prepare them for the European market while working remotely. This is particularly important in reassuring the young African population about a reliable future scope in their own countries and contribute to building a strong localised economy.
Shimanyi Valentino, the Managing Director of Sisitech, attests to the fact that they have so far exceeded client expectations in each of their projects and now seek to make more coders available for European markets. Talking about a particularly successful project this year, he mentions, "We are driving social change through innovation by developing apps that can track attendance digitally and prevent drop outs from schools."
Code of Africa building stronger communities
But it is not always about business or employment for Axel Kuhlmann, Co-Founder and advisor for business development for CoA. He believes it is also about giving due recognition to the African talents and moving away from prejudices that exist surrounding Africa about abject poverty, poor education and ill-health.
"The whole narrative around Africa needs to change," he emphasises, "and now is their time!" For Kuhlmann, CoA is not just a social enterprise with vision, but a channel to promote a better image of Africa to Europe and other parts of the world. In his experience, the young people in Africa are ready to tackle the complexities of today's world, take on global challenges and solve them with innovative technology and persistent hard work.
With the need to improve working standards and create sustainable livelihoods in emerging countries more than ever, CoA shows us how to go a step further and build sustainable communities. It not only prepares professionals to meet the European work standards, but also assists them through the entire on-boarding process, along with on-site training. Such mentorship guarantees holistic development of the young professionals and helps them integrate better into the labour market.
Innovation and technology for social change
Thus it seems like CoA, with its vision for social change through innovation and technology, has created a win-win scenario for all parties involved:
- 1st Win - For the young coders and entrepreneurs who benefit from their new jobs and see the value in education.
- 2nd Win - For clients as they can reduce overall costs and get high quality work in return at comparable prices.
- 3rd Win - For the founders who continue enabling sustainable livelihoods in Africa while giving back to the society.
- 4th Win – For African nations by creating multi-national teams with Kenyans and Rwandan IT-talents working side by side.
Picture Courtesy: © Code of Africa GmbH & NextAfrica/Ecotec GmbH
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