Flutterwave—a global payments company—organised a job fair that connected over 400 developers to 30+ companies on September 21, 2019.
The job fair was prompted by the sad news that Andela—a pan-African company building distributed engineering teams—was shedding 420 junior developers, about 200 of whom are Nigerian developers.
Although, Andela claimed to have plans to plug the affected developers into the local ecosystem, there's only so much they can do. Enter Flutterwave.
On this premise was the Flutterwave developer job fair born.
The Flutterwave developer job fair was significant in many ways. It corroborates the assertion that successful ecosystems are built by the concerted efforts of all stakeholders.
The job fair did not only provide an opportunity for the 200 developers laid off by Andela to be quickly re-employed, it was also open to other unemployed or out-of-job developers that were non-Andelans. Hiring companies also had a pool of tech talents to interview, thereby facilitating their hiring process—a much-welcomed development if you ask the CTO of Cowrywise who recently completed a gruelling recruitment cycle for developers.
Speaking on why a non-recruitment company would organise a job fair, Bode Abifarin—the COO of Flutterwave—said, "Here, we pride ourselves as infrastructure, we already connect businesses, so why don't we connect humans?". But, it goes beyond just connecting 'strangers', she continues, "We churn out SDKs and APIs for our clients and merchants to integrate to, so if we can help them find quality talent to consume these APIs then that's a win-win for all involved" (paraphrased).
In a chat with benjamindada.com, the CEO and Co-founder of Flutterwave, Olugbenga 'GB' Agboola, said that "Andela helped shine the light on a much bigger problem—un(der)employment".
Indeed, Nigeria has an unemployment problem. More than half of Nigerian youths between ages 15 and 35 years are without work. The latest Multidimensional Poverty Index shows that 98 million Nigerians are multidimensionally poor—deprived in health, education or/and standard of living.
So, losing your job in such a country could be emotionally devastating.
Interestingly, the Flutterwave team had less than 72 hours to put things together as the Andela news was released on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Their dedication and passion to do this received a lot of commendation from companies, developers, friends and well-wishers. Take for instance, what Twitter user @Nnannx has to say:
At the event, I sat and spoke with three different classes of people; employers, ex-Andelans, and Flutterwave staff.
Despite Flutterwave's spatial and floor planning, the crowd took them by surprise. They had created an RSVP list, but they quickly outran that. People who just heard about the event turned up and Flutterwave in their own words "were not turning anyone back".
"We had just two days to put all of this together, I had an initial list but now, that's been overrun", says Marketing Storyteller, Yewande Akomolafe.
"Do you know when we heard about the job fair? on Friday evening (a day to the event)", Oluwatosin Adekanmi, HR at Leadway Assurance tells me. "We came because we were looking for a mobile developer". Whether Leadway found a mobile developer at the event remains to be seen but Tosin didn't seem very satisfied. Infact, she said they got "40%" of what they came for, as "most of the developers are junior with a few years of experience...we need someone experienced that can hit the ground running".
Out of curiousity, I asked "Don't you think it is a case of Leadway having to compete with other startups for talent? The developers might prefer a startup as opposed to a legacy institution? (as yours)". She responded with something interesting, "Canada is our competition o...".
As a Tech Reporter and Journalist, I didn't think that the reality of a developer exodus out of Nigeria would have hit the HR department of a 50-year-old insurance company.
Canada is our competition.
For Edward 'Ed' Popoola—the Cowrywise Co-founder and CTO we cited above—it wasn't a case of junior developers but fewer backend developers.
On one hand, let's recall that about half of the developers present were from Andela. On the other hand, let's assume that Andela developers who would typically have started out as Fullstack doing front and back-end, specialised in Frontend—"because that's what was selling", an ex-Andelan told me. It could also be that the Andelan developers let go were majorly frontend engineers. Or backend engineers simply didn't visit Cowrywise's booth.
Whatever the case, Ed was not interested in Frontend engineers because he had just completed the recruitment of Frontend engineers.
I asked Ed whether he would have considered Andelan developers as potential hires prior to the Flutterwave event. He said "I thought they were only for foreign companies...that's the narrative in the press". Ed is correct.
The Andelan narrative had always been that African developers will be trained and placed with their global partners delivering a "world-class experience" to the developers.
However, at some point in Andela's business model journey they started to work with local companies.
"...we place our junior developers in their first six months on apprenticeships with local companies that match our values”, Omowale David-Ashiru, Country manager Andela Nigeria, told benjamindada.com in May.
With yesterday's event, Flutterwave not only made a move to get people jobs but also democratised access to technical talent.
"I'm very hopeful that something good will come out of this (event), I've already spoken to four companies", said an Ex-Andelan present at the Job Fair.
Will love to keep tabs on the outcome of this event, if you know anyone that gets hired off this event, please email: [email protected][dot]com.
All photos are credited to Flutterwave, except otherwise stated