By Liku Zelleke
In Lagos, Nigeria, there is a startup company that helps young Nigerians train as programmers. It pays the young developers to learn how to code so that they can land jobs in international companies. And not just any international company, either; we’re talking about the likes of Microsoft and other Fortune 500 offices that can afford to pay salaries of around $100,000.
Andela, the talent acceleration firm, scouts talented and eager Nigerians with high potential. It is the creation of two entrepreneurs — Jeremy Johnson, an American, and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, a Nigerian. The company was selected as one of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers in 2012.
Although Andela can almost guarantee a successful life for its graduates, it’s the getting in that is really the obstacle prospective students have to overcome if they are to work towards a successful life; its acceptance rate to its four-year training is just 1 percent. Comparing that to Harvard’s 6 percent and Princeton’s 7.4 percent acceptance rates, the picture becomes clear of just how hard it is to book a seat in one of Aldela’s classrooms.
“We are looking for brilliant young people who are potential leaders, and who have the grit and perseverance to get through a very tough program,” Aboyeji admits.
First, the students apply online, and if selected, they take aptitude and skills tests. Then those that make it must pass face-to-face interviews. Finally, they have to undertake a two-week boot camp.
It is only then — after assessing their learning speed and their coding skills — that the accepted students list is compiled.
Andela started training its first 100 developers in June 2014 — a minute number considering there are 15,000 applicants.
Once in, the students are paid stipends during their time in class, something that is akin to an apprenticeship.
“The primary and secondary education system remains strong here, but the youth population is growing very fast which makes the problem of youth unemployment chronic,” Aboyeji says. “We believe there is only so much you can learn in the classroom. But with practical work experiences, you can translate learning into habits that will make you a true professional.”