“Brilliance is universal. Opportunity is not.” – Jeremy Johnson, CEO of Andela and co-founder of 2U (NASDAQ: TWOU)
When Jeremy Johnson and I sat down for coffee in mid-2014, he posed a set of questions for me:
1) Do we believe that there is genius-level talent equally distributed around the world?
2) Do we believe that much of this talent doesn’t have access to the opportunities we have?
3) Do we believe that this talent can be unleashed for the good of their families, communities, and global economy, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or socioeconomic status?
Yes. To all.
And thus, Andela was born.
Andela is based on a powerful and profoundly simple idea: paying students to learn. What if, instead of students paying tuition, we paid students to learn? What if we started in a massive and complex country like Nigeria—a country with 70% youth unemployment, the ISIS affiliate Boko Haram in the northeast, and rapid population growth that will make it the third most populated country in the world by 2100? And, what if we started with next generation computer science skills—Angular, MongoDB, Node.js—for which there are 3 unfilled jobs for every qualified developer globally?
As a board member, I’ve had a front row seat to what the deeply passionate team (Christina, E, Adam, Ian, etc) has accomplished thus far. We are about to begin training the 11th class of fellows, who each sign up for a 4 year educational roller coaster. We have a <1% admissions rate, making Andela the most selective educational institution in Africa. We recently conducted an all-female bootcamp, expanded to Kenya, have had companies like Microsoft hire fellows, and just closed our Series A financing from Spark Capital. And so much more.
This is just the beginning on our quest to train 100,000 fellows in Africa over the next ten years.
This is Andela.