Hi there! I’m Joon, the founder and CEO of the Africa Code Academy. I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of my thoughts and some of things that have gone into the formation of the Africa Code Academy. In the future, these posts will be a place where I can answer some of the questions that we encounter when we talk about the ACA. But for now, one of the simplest questions of course is:
What is the Africa Code Academy?
This is a good question! But rather than dive into that directly, a good place to start is to instead answer a related question: *Why is the Africa Code Academy?* Or, how did the ACA come to be? (There’s a funner long answer to this question that I’d be happy to share with you over a beer some time, but for now here’s a shorter, simpler version.) The roots of the founding of the ACA came from a personal conviction that we as humans have a basic obligation to help those who were less fortunate or less opportunities than ourselves. There is a related and equally important basic belief in the equal and inherent value of human beings — all human beings, period. And to this you add a fundamental belief in Africa and its people along with an appreciation for the beauty of Africa and an unshakable belief in her potential for the future, you have the foundation upon which the Africa Code Academy was built. On top of this foundation, we place our backgrounds as technologists with expertise in software engineering and development, training and economic development, it was just the obvious road to pursue. To be clear, the seemingly obvious potential to create world-class engineers who could make a material change in their communities and countries with programming skills do not escape us, but it is really secondary to fulfill what is our basic mission to bring lasting positive change to people across the African continent that comes directly from our basic beliefs.
Our Ultimate Goal
Given our mission, we have designed the academies to have the specific qualities of being self-sustaining and scalable. I use the word “scalable” here to be clever, but what I really mean is ‘reproducing’. Like any healthy organism, the two indications of health are growth and reproduction. Our vision which sees not just a few academies in an isolated area, but to have the ability to dynamically move into new areas where the need is greatest. Part of this ability has to do with the very nature of what we are producing from our academies. People that are qualified to return and impart the very same knowledge that they learned as teaching assistants and instructors. This also us to exploit what is what we recognize as our greatest assets, our people.
Along the lines of our belief in people, it is natural that for us, our people are our priority. In the inner most circle, our employees are the heart of the company who also stand at the front line of sustaining and imparting the very values that we hold dear. Our ability to respect and protect our people, who we would consider our family, reflects directly on our ability to care for and train the students who we seek to train.
Given our vision, it is worth stating our attitude toward ‘competition’ or what may be construed as competition. To be clear, if there were a proliferation of opportunities and coding academies across Africa we would be thrilled and would see this as a victory. And today, there are large populous areas in Africa where opportunities to learn to code exist. We cheer the efforts of our partners in the field and wish them all the success as we consider them to be coworkers in our vision. By this token, this is a reason why you would be unlikely to see an ACA presence in areas that already have learning needs met. We seek to find the places and peoples who have not had their chance to learn and have designed our academies to thrive in those situations.
One area that we might distinguish ourselves from other coding bootcamps is the recognition that in order to create lasting change in the communities where we serve is the need for our investments in the people to be able to remain in the communities to build value and opportunities locally. The reality is that skills alone are not sufficient to make an impact. If there are no opportunities to use those skills they will either fade away or leave. If the student, once she is given the skills to be a software engineer, must leave the community to use those skills, will severely limits the benefits that can be imparted to the local community which is ultimately our goal to serve. So our plan is to create opportunities for graduates to use their skills by hiring them as offshore engineers to be able to work remotely and remain in the communities where they are from. Last and perhaps most, those unique individuals who seek to build companies of their own would be given the resources and support to be entrepreneurs to build their own companies and build up the local economies. All of these things are possible due to the unique opportunities that we have given the skills we are working with and internet and the age in which we live. So I want to invite you to be a partner in our efforts! We are working hard to get various projects and need and would welcome as much help as we can get. I’m convinced that we are not alone in our heart and belief in Africa and together we can be a part of great things happen across the continent impacting the whole world!