In October of 2017, Africa-focused talent outsourcing startup Andela revealed that it had only 500 developers in its talent base.
Following that revelation, Techpoint’s Ifeanyi Ndiomewese questioned Andela’s ability to meet increasing global demand. He concluded, somewhat prophetically, that Andela would have to double down on recruiting experienced talent.
Today, Andela has around 1100 developers on its payroll, following the recent layoff of over 400 junior developers on Tuesday. According to CEO Jeremy Johnson, over 25% (270+) of those 1100 are mid to senior level.
Jeremy explained that the layoffs were necessitated by a shift in business focus from being a talent accelerator to a full-on talent outsourcing firm.
“Going forward, we will hire another 700 experienced engineers by the end of 2020 in order to keep up with demand from our partners,” Jeremy wrote in a recent blog post.
Jeremy insists that they won’t relegate the talent accelerator side of things to the back-burner, as the beginner-focused Andela Learning Community still aims to train more than 100,000 new engineers by 2022.
While it remains to be seen whether or not Andela will stay committed to the cause, an even more important question is ‘where in Africa will Andela find 700 experienced developers, before the end of 2020, and what does this mean for the local ecosystem?’
In July 2018, when Andela revealed plans to extend its recruitment programme to senior developers in Cairo, Egypt, it also admitted to having only 50+ senior developers on its payroll at the time.
Ten months after, it launched its ‘Power of X’ campaign. Targeted specifically at mid to senior level engineers, the still ongoing campaign sought to accelerate Andela’s usually long recruitment process for highly talented engineers. Between July 2018 and today, Andela hired at least 173 senior developers, according to a recent survey carried out by Techpoint*. This represents a dramatic 246% increase in number of senior developer recruits.
You may have observed sharp spikes after three key periods — when Andela expanded to Egypt in July 2018, raised a $100m Series D in January 2019 and launched the ‘Power of X’ campaign in May 2019. But even more interesting is where the developers were recruited from.
According to Techpoint’s survey, at least 34 senior-only developers work for Andela from Egypt. All 34 of them were recruited during the review period. Interestingly, an insider source insists they are at least twice that number. Quite the developed tech ecosystem, Egypt can often feel far-removed from the rest of Africa. So it won’t be far-fetched to assume that many Egyptians do not use LinkedIn. Either that or the developers in question have their account set to private.
Asides Egypt, where Andela is recruiting for remote-first/only roles, another country seeing interesting spike in activity is Ghana, where 17% of the recruits within the review period are based.
For context, Ghana is not one of Andela’s official locations. But while our survey reveals that only about 37 senior Andela developers currently work from Ghana, it also suggests an increasing demand for Ghanaian developers.
Everything points to Ghana being a top next destination for Andela, besides Egypt and Nigeria. In fact, according to sources close to the matter, Andela is aggressively in search of a Ghana country director to make things official.
Of course, if Andela is going to meet its target of an additional 700 between now and 2020, the usual suspects — Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya — will continue to see a mass migration of senior developers to Andela.
However, it still remains to be seen how achievable hiring 700 senior developers by 2020 is, as a good number of such talent is usually passed around between top companies. In Nigeria for example, three companies — TeamApt, Interswitch and the Venture Garden Group — have consistently recycled senior developers among each other for the past 4 or so years.
As to the other question, ‘what does this mean for the local ecosystem?’. This hilarious but insightful tweet by Carbon CFO, Ngozi Dozie is quite apt:
As tech firms smack their lips at the 400 junior engineers on the market from @Andela, pls remember that they are also now in the hunt for 700 senior engineers.
— Ngozi Dozie (@ngozidozie) September 17, 2019
It is also worthy of note that a sizeable chunk of Andela’s 200 client companies are not based in Africa, especially as most local companies find its fees prohibitive.
.@TheYomiKazeem on key issues with Andela switch in biz model/layoffs
• Can African tech ecosystems take 400+ junior developers
• Can local startups afford them?
• How will this impact market for snr developers?
• Is Andela now just a tiny Infosys?https://t.co/0qTTsmvCd7
— Yinka Adegoke (@YinkaWrites) September 18, 2019
This is evident in the recent rush for the recently laid-off junior developer Andelans, many of whom most local companies will probably still not be able to afford. An undesirable by-effect is an over-supply of tech talent. Many may end up reluctantly accepting pay cuts just to stay engaged. The luckier ones may end up back at Andela, if they are able to ‘level-up’.
On the bright side however, maybe there’s some light at the end of the tunnel …
Come back a few years from now and many SMEs (born and unborn) will thank @Andela for the gift of engineering talents they just released into the market.
Much joy will come later when you see them hold their own in the industry and create problem solving products.
— Shola Adekoya (@Sholaextra) September 17, 2019
Or not …
I know you're trying to look on the bright side, but I don't agree with the "Thank Andela for releasing talent into the market" take.
1. The talent did not ask to be released.
2. There's always been talent outside of Andela.
3. Pay? Are they going back to 50k jobs?
— jukai (樹海) (@theshalvah) September 17, 2019
You should also read: The human resource cost of an Andela sacrifice
*Survey covers only senior developers directly hired from October 2017 till date. Internally promoted senior developers not included. All data sourced from LinkedIn. This survey should only be treated as a representative sample size.
** Because they are mostly engaged remotely whilst servicing other companies/independent freelancers, Egyptian developers were not included in the company exodus count.