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Bojalelabs Initiative: Three Nigerians abroad shaping the future of tech talent

Through the BojaleLabs accelerator, the trio of Ayo Alfonso, Funke Alabi, and Onyeka Omose are trying to close this gap and equip Nigerian tech talents with world-class skills.

Bojalelabs Initiative: Three Nigerians abroad shaping the future of tech talent
From L-R: Funke Alabi, Ayo Alphonso and Onyeka Omose

Nigeria has recently become a prominent tech outsourcing hub through demographics, infrastructure, and skills. With about 60% of its population being young, the country has the potential to become a significant exporter of tech talent worldwide, fulfilling nearly a quarter of the global demand for technology talent.

However, these talents can hold their companies and ecosystems back if they are not equipped. A report by SAP Africa revealed that most organisations in Nigeria need help to get suitable candidates with the right tech skills. The research report, which looked at the state of tech skills in Africa, showed that all 40 Nigerian companies surveyed said they had suffered a negative impact due to a lack of tech skills.

Through the BojaleLabs accelerator, the trio of Ayo Alfonso, Funke Alabi, and Onyeka Omose are trying to close this gap and equip Nigerian tech talents with world-class skills. This will be done through an intensive 12-week training program with mentors from world-leading organisations like Goldman Sachs, Revolut, and Piggyvest.

About the founders

Although the trio have known each other for about five years, they have not worked together directly until now. Alfonso, CEO of BojaleLabs, met Funke Alabi while he worked in Lagos, and Funke was interning at the Lagos State Ministry of Health. Alfonso met Omose through Funke.

Alfonso is a Software Engineer at a UK-based startup, Trudenty, with over 10 years of experience working in leading organisations such as GitHub, Union Bank, Zone Tech Park, and Hotels.ng.

“As a health promotion and program planning intern at the Lagos state of Ministry of Health, I was tasked with organising initiatives to improve the health and well-being of bank employees. My team and I were working on a preventative health program outreach at Union Bank, Lagos,  that was when I met Ayo. Alabi said, reflecting on how she met Alfonso. “He inspired my interest in delving into health technology." This encounter with him influenced my decision to study Biomedical informatics when I moved to the US,” she added.

Today, Alabi bridges the gap between clinicians and information technology as a Systems Optimizer and Clinical Applications Analyst at Tufts Medicine,  a multi-hospital health system, in Massachusetts. She is also the founder of Cohexa AI, an emerging healthcare-focused AI startup.

Omose, who met Funke in the US, is a Strategic Human Resource professional with experience creating C-Suite initiatives to empower local CEOs and executives in the Denver-Metropolitan Area. She specialises in creating professional development, team building, and employee productivity curriculums. She serves as an International business expansion advisor providing a strategic people-based approach for HR Tech companies looking to expand their reach. She is also a co-founder of Cohexa AI.

What is BojaleLabs

BojaleLabs is a US-registered company that builds web projects for entrepreneurs, sources and finds talent, and runs an umbrella of internet projects.

After garnering experience as a trainer at Bloomtech, a US online coding bootcamp that trains people to acquire skills to land a tech job, Alfonso decided to replicate something similar in Nigeria after struggling to hire tech talents from the country.

Having run BojaleLabs for two years, Alfonso said the platform is committed to building a global tech career accelerator. “We noticed that when companies put out a vacancy with job descriptions, a lot of the applicants are not where they want them to be,” he said, "While assisting employers in the design of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), I consistently observed a recurring problem. Employers often asked questions that were beyond the scope of the job description during the hiring process. Consequently, I noted that numerous highly capable individuals with impressive projects experienced rejection, primarily due to concerns related to their educational background and qualifications."

He saw a lot of gaps that needed to be closed in the employment space – employers getting it right with what to search for in applicants and applicants closing their knowledge gaps.

BojaleLabs seeks to upskill mid-level professionals for the next level. Alfonso said, “We believe these people will build stable products that they can sell globally.” In addition, beyond upskilling the talents, Bojale compensates their tech talents after graduation, so they have nothing else to worry about except work. 

The accelerator program will span 12 weeks and include different tracks like design, AWS, mobile, and backend development. Participants will have the opportunity to be mentored by tech professionals from Revolut, Piggyvest, and Goldman Sachs.

“The mentors will spend four hours per week with the participants to give them feedback on what to focus on,” Alfonso said. “It’s a good learning opportunity for them because these are the type of senior people that the participants will eventually get to work with later in their careers.”

At the end of the program, certain companies will hire the accelerator graduates on a work-trial basis. This paid arrangement will last for a week, and if the candidate’s expertise and communication align with what the company is looking for, they’ll get hired permanently.  

Cohexa and the other capstone projects

Participants will work on key capstone projects like Cohexa AI and an employee management tool during the accelerator program.

Cohexa uses Artificial Intelligence, Conversational AI, Machine Learning, Computational Linguistics, and Speech-to-Text recognition features to listen to conversations between physicians and patients. It transcribes this conversation into ready-to-use templated clinical notes that can be used for medical billing, diagnosis, treatment, and plan of care for patients.

This solution is essential because the system used for note-taking for conversations between providers and patients is time-consuming and prone to significant errors. This also contributes to a fractured relationship between providers and patients.  

This is where Cohexa comes in. “Cohexa streamlines clinical documentation by automating the notetaking process for providers,” Alabi said. 

“We are removing documentation's distraction, allowing your physician to focus on you. In the background, we will record and transcribe your office visit conversation and turn it into usable notes that your provider can edit, personalise, and utilize for your diagnosis and treatment.”

The BojaleLabs accelerator program participants will also get to work on an employee management tool. Speaking with Bendada on a call, Onyeka Omose, Strategic Human Resource expert designing  the program curriculum, said “we are  looking to leverage AI to create a skill-based workforce shaping the future of tech companies and the workforce they cultivate.”

She continued, “The performance management tool will utilise Artificial Intelligence to manage and organise the workforce based on their skills effectively. By analysing assets such as performance metrics, skill set, and employee data, this tool can cross-match employees to the right resource, and project tasks and ensure optimum productivity. This will help  streamline processes for the employer and help employees monitor, manage, and track performance across the board.” 

At the end of the virtual accelerator program, the group with the best product will receive a payout of $5,000. Also, graduate fellows will form a close-knit alumni body that will still be engaged in professional and personal development.

Growth plans

At  BojaleLabs we believe that investing in human capacity is a strategic imperative for building a more inclusive and innovative future. By aligning its initiative with SDG goal 17 for capacity building, we are focused on strengthening people's skills to thrive in a fast changing world. 

Goal 17: Revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development. 

“We are empowering individuals, across national and international borders, through this program, emphasising on members of marginalised communities,”  Onyeka Omose said. This program edition will be the pilot phase and help gather data on how subsequent editions will run. “Right now, we want to gather all the data we can get to guide us to make the best decision for the candidates moving forward,” Alfonso said.

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