There are so many technical coding schools, boot camps, and recruiting platforms for underrepresented minorities in the U.S., but I was curious to find out more about the companies that were tapping into Africa’s tech talent pool.
With this in mind, BLACK ENTERPRISE connected with Amadou Daffe, the CEO and co-founder of Gebeya, Inc., a fast and secure online marketplace that connects African IT experts with other businesses to develop technology solutions. Daffe not only introduced us to his platform, but he was also kind enough to further elaborate on why Gebeya is beneficial to the African marketplace.
Black Enterprise: Tell me about your background. Why did you decide to start Gebeya?
Amadou Daffe: I have two passions in life: Africa and software engineering. I hold a BSc in Computer Science and an MSc in Management Information Systems from the U.S.
Over the last five years, I have traveled to Africa, searching for top software engineers. In the process, I acquired a lot of knowledge on the IT landscape in Africa, and the opportunities it presents. I have seen the potential of software improving African economies and solving socioeconomic issues. However, it is my belief that more work needs to be done.
Africa still lags behind in software development and engineering, yet software continues to empower millions of people and businesses in developed countries, creating revolutionary concepts and winning business models. This motivated me to co-found the pan-African company, Gebeya, Inc., which nurtures a self-sustainable ecosystem by training, hiring, and incubating African IT talent.
Black Enterprise: Let’s dive deeper into the product; what type of talent is it intended to target?
Amadou Daffe: “Gebeya” means “marketplace” in Amharic, the national Ethiopian language. Therefore, [we want people to] think of Gebeya as a platform where professionals can find and acquire legitimate work.
Currently, we are training, placing, and incubating software engineers, DevOps, API engineers, mobile app engineers, back-end system engineers, user experience designers, and user interface designers. With time, we will expand to focus on other professional areas, such as video production, photography, accounting, and so forth.
Black Enterprise: Why do you think Gebeya is especially important to the African marketplace?
Amadou Daffe: Gebeya [aims to] shape a robust, African IT industry by nurturing a strong, self-sustaining, African IT ecosystem. It accomplishes this by providing advanced, practical training, to increase the number of professional software engineers and developers in Africa. This will help increase job opportunities for IT professionals, and ultimately will produce more innovative startups in Africa.
I think that if Africa is to compete with the world’s leading economies, it is necessary for Africans to cultivate the right digital skills in order to meet the increasing demand for IT professionals and gain access to the tech industry. This will, in turn, increase the positive impact software has on Africa’s economy, and position the continent among leaders in the global software industry.
Black Enterprise: What is your competitive advantage?
Amadou Daffe: Gebeya’s training has a holistic curriculum, which is practical by design, ensuring that each student graduates with both soft and technical skills. We produce razor-sharp domain specialists, not coders.
Furthermore, Gebeya’s executive team has spent the last five years working in several African countries, to better evaluate the continent’s technology landscape. As a result, we’ve managed to recruit African IT professionals, creating an internal network of over 2,500 developers.
Black Enterprise: What type of traction are you seeing with Gebeya so far? How many clients do you have?
Amadou Daffe: We’ve been pleased by the warm reception and market demand for professional IT software engineers and developers.
Currently, Gebeya is incubating one product in the health sector, SEW, as well as two startups. Gebeya has also generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in the past six months, both from training and the marketplace.With an average of 15 organic client requests per month, Gebeya completes dozens of client projects.
In addition, Gebeya has received over 500 applicants for training in just four months, and it’s [placed] 140 highly talented IT professionals in the marketplace. Our first successful cohort of 70 professional software engineers and developers [recently] graduated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Gebeya has a presence in three strategic locations: Kenya, Ethiopia, and the U.S. It’s also signed a significant partnership agreement with Smart Africa. The partnership aims to fuel three of Smart Africa’s flagship initiatives, including Smart Africa ICT Industry Development, Smart Africa Digital Literacy, and Smart Africa Digital Economy.
Black Enterprise: Where are you finding your talent, and how to you vet applicants?
Amadou Daffe: Generally speaking, we locate talent through our advanced training programs, hackathons, universities, digital media platforms, and our corporate clients. Every month, Gebeya organizes events to attract more talent to our campuses in Kenya and Ethiopia. These events give us the advantage of discovering talent at an early age. Recruitment events are our first point of contact, with potential talent, because at this stage, they are still potential trainees.
Those who are interested in what Gebeya has to offer can then submit an online application, to see if they qualify for our professional training program. Qualifying applicants then begin our rigorous vetting process, and if they manage to pass this initial phase, they are then invited in for a face-to-face interview. If the interview is successful, applicants are then invited to enter our practical training program, which lasts about four to six months. At the end of the program, students are expected to deliver a full-fledged, functional product. Those who succeed at this then qualify for job placement on the platform.
Black Enterprise: What other regions do you plan on expanding to, and what are your plans for scaling this business?
Amadou Daffe: Our first strategic targets are multinational businesses and government institutions across Africa. In the next five years, Gebeya will continue developing existing IT talent across the major hubs in Africa, including in Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Ivory Coast.Our hope is to eventually expand into the European and American markets, to source for more international clients and find more professional, qualified, and affordable IT talent.
This production of talent will subsequently fuel Gebeya’s ability to meet the global demand for professional IT talent. It will also promote innovation by incubating more startups.
Black Enterprise: What criteria does one from those regions need to fulfill, in order to sign up and join?
Amadou Daffe: They would need to identify whether we are [already] present in their location; we are currently present in Kenya and Ethiopia, but we will soon be in Rwanda and Nigeria. After going through Gebeya’s vetting process, those based in the other countries have the option to come study on our current campuses, or they can wait until we launch in their countries.
For more information about Gebeya, visit its website.