Most times when you talk about working in tech, people think about coding alone, but that is not the full picture. There are no-code professionals who are also working tirelessly to scale the growth of products.
By no-code tech professionals, you can think of content marketers, UX writers, product managers, designers, customer support specialists etc. "Engineers are important, but so are marketers, product managers and designers. Creators often have to wade through the dark to learn the skills needed to succeed in these roles," says Ope Adedeji, Editorial Director at Big Cabal Media.
Starting and growing ConTech Africa...
In November 2022, Ope was contacted by her former colleague, Daniel Orubo, Head of Content at PiggyVest, to start ConTech Africa, a community for African creators in tech. "We created ConTech to make it easy for writers, designers, editors, bloggers, video creators, artists and more to find and excel in whatever tech role that best suits their existing skills and interests," Ope added.
The duo first met at Zikoko, where they managed the editorial team of the leading Gen Z and millennial-focused publication. From there, they moved to Nigeria-based fintechs, Piggyvest and Paystack, where they used content to drive the growth of these companies. In fact, Daniel was the one who pioneered the content marketing department at Piggyvest. According to Ope, "people who saw this transition and the work we did were eager to understand how we did it. While we wanted to be very helpful, it was tedious having to respond to everyone at different points."
All these numerous social media DMs and sometimes after-tech event conversations that the ConTech co-founders had with no-code creators like themselves was what led them to build this community to provide scholarships, mentorship programmes, webinars, CV reviews and more to help upskill those looking to launch a career in tech.
ConTech Africa has grown from 250 members in its first two weeks to over 3,500 members on its Slack and email community. Creators can join the community by filling a form; thereafter they get access to the Slack community, which has over 1,200 of those members, or opt to receive emails only.
The community currently has three main subgroups, product, design and marketing. Each subgroup runs a number of activities, from bootcamps to book clubs, creating an opportunity for members to network, build together and grow.
"I discovered ConTech through Twitter. While I can't recall the exact individual who shared the link to join the community, I was instantly drawn by the description of ConTech as 'a community for creators'. Intrigued by the opportunity, I decided to join and explore further," Celine Okafor, a content marketer told Bendada.com.
Last year, ConTech awarded Celine a scholarship to deepen her content marketing skills. She is also a volunteer at the community, where she transcribes ConTech Corner, the community’s group mentoring sessions, into articles.
"This experience has been incredibly enriching for me. It has allowed me to develop and refine my writing skills, while also providing the opportunity to receive guidance and corrections from an editor. The feedback and corrections have been instrumental in helping me identify and address weaknesses in my writing," she added.
ConTech Corner is an hour-long conversation that is held every month. During these sessions, experienced no-code professionals share their experiences with the community.
"The journey has been interesting. We’ve pretty much been learning on the fly, but also talking to others who run communities to provide some guidance," says Ope.
Initiatives at ConTech Africa
ConTech is currently working on a No-Code Salary Report and Tool to help tech professionals in Nigeria get a better understanding of the compensation and benefits available in no-code roles.
"Compensation in Nigeria is shrouded in secrecy. There’s little to no information about what professionals in no-code roles need to do to climb up the corporate or startup ladder and earn more," she added. "That’s what we want to try and answer at ConTech."
The community has since commenced a survey to enable the creation of the aforementioned resources. This is one out of other initiatives that ConTech is building to enable the growth of no-code creators across Africa.
Recently, ConTech launched a mentorship programme that pairs experienced tech professionals (from companies like Bamboo, Meta, Kuda and Google) with community members who are seeking guidance and career advice. The programme is currently in its pilot session, and it includes regular one-on-one sessions, mentor-led workshops, and networking opportunities, providing personalised support and fostering professional growth within the community.
Fuel to keep the community alive
Currently, ConTech Africa is funded by the co-founders and donations from various individuals within and outside the African tech ecosystem—including Odun Eweniyi (COO, PiggyVest), Ire Aderinokun (COO, Helicarrier), Opemipo Aikomo (Head of Design, Paystack) and Daniel Abayomi (Product Designer, Meta)—to carry out their costly initiatives.
"Raising money has also been a major factor in our growth," Daniel Orubo, the co-founder of the non-profit, told Bendada.com. As the community grows, the demand for more funding is also growing. Recently, Daniel said the community planned to fund two full scholarships to Treford’s Content Marketing bootcamp but over 20 members applied.
"This means, we now have to say no to more members, and it’s tough because they are very passionate about wanting to learn and better themselves," he added. ConTech is currently seeking donations from individuals or organisations that want to fuel the growth of its community members.
"For us, being able to give out full scholarships was a core part of our plan, and we won't have been able to do it without the generosity of our donors," according to Daniel. "That is why we send quarterly reports so our donors know exactly how their donations are being spent."
The future at ConTech Africa
For the co-founders, ConTech wants to build "a community of creators whose knee-jerk reaction is to support one another. We live in a society that doesn’t always value creators, so we need to help and value each other."
Although in its early days, this vision is already playing out. Just like Celine, several other creators are also volunteering their time to support other members in the community. For instance, Tamilore Oyegun, leads the design subgroup, and is currently leading the first UX design bootcamp at ConTech. "We know we can’t do it all by ourselves, and we are glad to have such dedicated members so early on," says Daniel.
ConTech Africa is not alone. Another community, Non Tech in Tech, is also creating an environment for non-technical professionals. According to Daniel, the founder of that community, Peace Obinani, has been a massive help in his journey so far. "She’s the first person I ran to for advice when I decided to start ConTech," he added. "And she was nothing but generous."