Lade Oshodi learned a bit of Java in school in Nigeria. And initial introduction is all it took to ignite a career in tech.
After learning a handful of tech skills in school, Oshodi heard about Andela, a tech skills and outsourcing firm, in 2014. Within a year, he joined the startup’s program in hopes of learning new skills and getting enough experience to launch a career.
Andela helped equip Oshodi with the most relevant development skills and placed him with an Austin startup. Oshodi had never hear of The Zebra, an Austin-based insurance tech company halfway around the globe from his hometown. But he didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to work with them.
“Sometimes you don’t know all that you want to do in the future,” he said in an interview a few weeks ago. “You put yourself in a good position so you’re ready when something good comes your way.”
And that’s the spirit of many emerging tech employees who have grown up in less developed countries to become leaders in tech. Many technologists across Africa are coming to Austin and other tech hubs through Andela, a New York-based network of tech leaders who help nurture tech skills and partner with American companies seeking tech talent.
So far, the company has had 70,000 applicants and raised about $80 million, backed by Spark Capital and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
The program starts in Africa with six months of intensive simulations and real product development. Then, Andela helps place qualified developers with temporary jobs with tech companies — they partner with about 100 companies across 45 cities, globally. And about 30 percent of Andela developers are women, compared to the 6 percent global average.
Oshodi, for example, had tech training and even taught computer science. He added developer skills at Andela. He now works for The Zebra from Lagos in an office he says is similar to tech startup offices in Austin. Because of the time change, he typically works from around noon to about 10 p.m.
“Good communication helps the (remote) work go smoothly,” he said.
Like fellow colleagues in the Andela program, he’s been to Austin to visit his colleagues, see the city and meet with team leaders.
Andela Co-Founder Christina Sass told me the response to the program has been astounding. And, she said, that’s helping tech companies diversify their workforces.
“A lot of tech teams in the states start thinking about diversity too late,” she said. “And it’s hard to change once culture is in place.”
Mbithe Nzomo, is another Andela protégé who now works for Fathom, the Austin water tech company.
She grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. She always wanted to be a lawyer or an architect. But in high school, tech grabbed her attention more than anything else. She studied computer science in college and later founded a software development startup that got funding from a small company in Norway.
Her goal is to be in tech leadership, perhaps a CTO, she said. And she’s learning more about her strengths and building new potential along the way.
“I’m open to different possibilities,” she said.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Lade Oshodi’s name. It has also been updated to show Andela has raised $80 million.