Last week, Jason Calacanis, the host of This Week in Startups Podcast and Managing Partner at Launch, interviewed [YouTube] Jeremy Jason, Andela CEO. The conversation revolved around demystifying the myths about Africa. Many of these painted by US media have painted. The two also talked about the potential that the continent holds.
Now in its fourth year since founding, Andela has expanded to 4 countries in Africa. That is Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria. But, according to Jeremy, the interest in the company’s activities is increasing.
“Are you at a point where these cities are willing to pay you to build out offices and talent?” Jason asked the Andela CEO. To which Jeremy replied; “It certainly wasn’t part of our original thinking.”
Adding; “Over the past year, we have had well over a dozen countries reach out and say what would it take to get you to bring Andela to the country?”
Though only operational in four countries, Andela receives applications from other countries.
“We’ve had thousands and thousands of applicants from the 50 countries across the continent that we don’t operate in,” said Jeremy.
“For instance, we have had a handful of applicants from Uganda that got into Andela Kenya before Uganda opened. We have [also] had some folks from Togo as well as Ghana get into Andela Nigeria.”
Yet, this move faced challenges – especially obtaining work visas for the developers. This prompted them to partner with Rwanda.
“Our first actual government partnership is with Rwanda,” Jason said. With the partnership, all developers from countries where Andela isn’t operational can get work visas in Rwanda.
“Rwanda said, ‘we want you to build a pan African hub here and we will make it so that anyone that can get into Andela immediately can have a work permit in Rwanda’,” said Jeremy.
Last month, while at the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco event, Fope Adelowo, Ken Njoroge and Tayo Oviosu tackled the issue of lack of exit history in Africa. The trio instead advised that Silicon Valley should bet on Africa’s potential rather than exit history.
Jason, like most Silicon Valley investors, was also curious and asked about why he and others should pick interest in the continent. His concerns were around the fact that there hasn’t been a unicorn or high profile tech company come out of the continent.
But, Jeremy advised him to take an example of markets like Australia and Sweden 10 years ago.
“If I were a prolific angel investor right now, I would be very actively looking at Africa as a place for investment,” he pointed out. Adding that he “would be looking at Andela developers as future technical founders.”
Talking about the journey so far, Jeremy said that the company is “growing very fast”. “We are certainly into the 10s [of millions of dollars in revenue] at this point and more than doubling year over year. Fast forward 5 years, we will be in 10s of thousands of Andelans”