I woke up this morning to the breaking news that Africa-focused software engineering talent company Andela has raised $200 million in a Series E funding round led by SoftBank that values the company at $1.5 billion, making it the latest unicorn startup out of Africa.
Andela is the 4th unicorn company coming out of Nigeria, joining the likes of Interswitch, Opay and Jumia.
For those who do not know what a Unicorn is, A unicorn company, or unicorn startup, is a private company with a valuation of over $1 billion.(500 billion naira)
It means that Andela is now worth $1 billion. Popular former unicorns include Airbnb, Facebook and Google.
The term was first coined by Aileen Lee, founder of Cowboy ventures when she referred to the 39 startups that had a valuation of over $1 billion as unicorns. The term initially was used to emphasize the rarity of such startups. The definition of a unicorn startup has remained unchanged since then. However, the number of unicorns have gone up.
What does Andela do and their business model? :
They train software Engineers and then connect them to companies around the world that need their service.
Instead of those companies hiring in house engineers for the management of their software, they go straight to Andela who has already trained Engineers, then proceed to hire from Andela’s pool of already trained engineers.
Again, these Andela trained engineers work remotely from where they are as they don’t need to travel to the home country where the employer is.
This saves the hiring employer, the cost of bringing the hired software engineer to the country where they are domiciled.
As an Andela trained engineer, you can stay in Lagos and work for Facebook, in California USA.
Young People are eager to work with top global companies without needing to leave their homes, let alone their country, Andela is solving that problem for those brilliant talented young people who want to eat their cake and have it.
Imagine for Instance a software engineer who stays in Lagos but is working for Facebook as a software engineer, this soft ware engineer will earn a dollar salary from Facebook but spend in Naira because he/she is living in Lagos.
This is exactly the value Andela is providing and why investors that Include Mark Zukerberg’s wife Priscilla Chan have invested a total of $381 million since being founded in Lagos, Nigeria in 2014, according to Crunchbase data. Its last valuation of $700 million came when the company raised a $100 million Series D in 2019.
Andela now has engineers in more than 80 countries today, CEO Jeremy Johnson told TechCrunch. It also boasts a client list of over 200 that includes GitHub, Cloudflare and ViacomCBS.
The company was founded in 2014 in Ikoyi Lagos by my good man, 30 years iyinoluwa Aboyeji, the only Nigerian that has founded two tech companies (Andela and Flutterwave) that are unicorns today
I was excited and sad at the same time over the news.
Excited because it shows again, immense possibilities of what young people are capable of doing, in spite of Nigeria and not because of it.
Sad because as I was processing the news when I woke up this morning, another news broke at the same time of the gruesome murder of Dr Chike Akunyili, the husband of late Nigeria’s amazon, late Dora Akunyili.
I was happy for Andela and crying for my beloved Igbo land because of the ruins it has become.
Andela could have been founded by a young Igbo person that has tech background in Nnewi.
I imagined an Andela that has its head office in Onitsha, Anambra state.
I also imagined the talent it would attract to Igbo land, the development and the prosperity it will unleash on our land.
There is no company located in Southeast Nigeria that is worth $1 billion
Even Cutix cable is not worth up to $1billion.
The whole 5 southeast GDP combined is not worth up to $1 billion but Andela founded out of Lagos, which is less than 6 years in existence has crossed that rubicon.
What is happening in South East Nigeria breaks my heart, a whole lot.
Igbos are known to be enterprising, smart and entrepreneurial,
ideally, because of who we are, we should be the driver and at the forefront of this technological revolution sweeping all over Lagos but we choose the opposite by choosing to make our land uninhabitable by bringing chaos and mayhem to our land in the name of freedom fighting, ruining ourselves with our own hands, innovation is running away from us.
A job in the east that pays 200k is a big job and the person earning it must be an older person, a. Manager or a director of the company but a 200k job is not a big deal in Lagos especially if you are working at a tech startup backed by foreign Venture capitals with unlimited dollar. I know an Olumide, a 21 years old boy who wears a dreadlock and who works with Kobo logistics in Yaba as a backend programmer, his monthly salary is 1.5 million naira with other perks attached.
Sadly, Olumide’s mates in the east are distracted as they are shouting ” Biafra or death” and as well, they are compelled to stay at home every Monday.
There is no reason why young talented people are leaving the east in droves to search for Jobs in Lagos.
I relocated to Lagos in 2015. I had no reason leaving for Lagos if Onitsha had offered me the career growth I wanted in tech.
We can attract Venture capital and investors to fund the technology startups and ideas incubated by our young people in the east but at the moment, this is not possible because we choose to destroy our land while the rest of the country is making progress, again, inspite of Nigeria and not because of it.
Happy for Andela and their story is an inspiration for all of us that it is not all that bad with Nigeria.
And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good news come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.” (John 1:45–46.)
Replacing Nigeria with Nazareth, can any good news come out of Nigeria? good news like Andela is coming out of Nigeria and most importantly, Andela’s is an example that dreams come through in Lagos.
Andela gives us hope and so much joy as well.