As a teenager growing up in Lomé, the capital of Togo, Faiçal Tchirou taught himself to code at a cybercafé. He wanted to help his mother manage the small pharmacy she owned. Prescription orders, inventory levels: Piece by piece, he learned how to create the operational software she needed. “She’s still using it,” he says with pride.
Tchirou was hooked. He found a job developing Android mapping apps, his first foray into mobile design. Then, one evening at the office, he saw a post on LinkedIn about a startup coding school called Andela, which was seeking new applicants. “I applied the same night because I was really excited,” he says. “They would pay you to learn! I used to learn for free, but these guys want to pay me.”
Most coding schools charge students upwards of $15,000 for in-person, bootcamp-style training. Not Andela. The for-profit education venture, which operates programs in Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, instead pays students a middle-class wage. In return, Andela students, known as fellows, agree to complete a rigorous six-month training program and spend three-and-a-half years working for Andela hiring partners.