We're Grooming Software Developers for Ugandan Startups to Employ - Lucy, MD Laboremus Uganda

Over the weekend, i2i facility in partnership with Laboremus Uganda, FSD Uganda, UNCDF MM4P, L-IFT, GladFarm Uganda and innovation Village held the #DataHack4FI at the Innovation Village.

Over 60 teams signed up for the hackathon, which had no selection criteria by the way. Hilarious, isn't it? Some opted not show up and of those that showed up, others dropped off along the way as the hackathon progressed. After 3 days and 2 nights of no sleep - the winners were announced on Sunday. These were; Killer Analytics, Farm Talk and Insure Me.

We went ahead and caught up with Lucrezia Biteete, the Managing Director of Laboremus Uganda. She had so much to share and we captured some of it.

Q: Tell us about Laboremus's role in the #DataHackathon4FI?

We were contracted as a local organizer for the event in Uganda because i2i doesn't have a local office in Uganda. We also brought on board other sponsors such as Innovation Village, GladFarm to help us in the smooth running of the event.

Q: What is in it for Laboremus?

Of course we are very active in the financial inclusion space. We are also looking at the networking aspect and the visibility especially for Laboremus. We are also always looking for young talent. Therefore this was an opportunity for us to showcase Laboremus to these young and brilliant people with ideas so that next we are recruiting they have an idea about Laboremus.

Q:  What criteria were you using for accepting teams?

Actually, over 60 teams expressed interest but other dropped out when we started calling back. Basically everyone who wanted to participate is here. We did not eliminate anyone.

Q: So, how many teams do you have here now?

In total we have 17 for the first presentation as some have dropped out. A lot of people had done double registration and others had their developers out of the country or some had to come from out of town and were not able to make it in time.

Q: Are we seeing this event happen again?

Yes, definitely. i2i has hinted on the fact that they'd like it to be a yearly event but they haven't yet confirmed. But this event will continue for one more month through the accelerator program.

Q: A quick interaction with the team members, at least one of the team members has been at a hackathon before. It looks like they just want to win and not nurture an idea. What is your take?

If you have a great idea, it is only by getting feedback that you grow. We understand that could be one of the mentalities but our hope is that by interacting with our staff, they are challenged and refine their ideas.

We hope that after the weekend, the questions they will get from the judges and other people around will challenge them to refine their ideas. If you have a good idea and work on it, you actually don't need to look for funding - it'll look for you.

Q: What is your comment about the Ugandan tech talent?

Uganda has very talented people and that's why we decided to open here. But they need guidance. They don't know which areas to focus on in order to be employable. For example everyone wants to be a back-end developer yet there's also a demand for front end developers.

Secondly, about the innovation and startups, people are in very much need of business advise like being structured and organized. A lot of people have great ideas but where they fail is execution. They also need to learn. There should be a culture of curiosity.

They need to make use of the internet to avoid duplication. Most people will end up doing something without having an idea of who their competitor is.

Q: You're in the same space with Andela and Tunga. Why should developers come to you?

Andela is mainly a learning program. If you want to join Andela, you're going to learn but if you're to join Laboremus, you're going to learn and do projects which is attractive.

Secondly, Andela is working for the external markets. Not saying that we don't have an external market, we do but we encourage our developers to work on local projects to interest them in making a local impact.

Q: To wind up, are you grooming entrepreneurs or employees?

For our own staff, we are grooming them to work for the startups. All the entrepreneurs and startups will reach a point when their one or two in-house developers are no longer enough and need help. That's when Laboremus will step in.

Secondly, we are developing Laboremus Academy to train our staff and outsiders to build the tech landscape especially people leaving the University. There will also be a huge emphasis on Business training. We have already applied for funding.


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