#BuildforSDG Challenge: Supporting the next generation of African innovators

Empowering technologists in Africa to hone their skills and create real-world solutions

At Andela, we provide our network of technologists with the resources and community support they need to become world-class talent, and as a result, we seek like-minded partners to collaborate with.

After partnering with Facebook (now Meta) on its Developer Circles program in 2019 and successfully training 2,500 developers, we teamed up again to engage 7,500 software developers in hands-on, immersive team projects that solve sustainable development goals (SDGs) within their communities, in the #BuildforSDG challenge.

Nurturing innovation that drives career impact

Our partnership with Facebook strived to help the developers involved to create innovative solutions that would hone their skill set, contribute to their personal and professional portfolios, and demonstrate their technical and career-readiness to businesses.

16%

of surveyed participants confirmed they have received new jobs, promotions or internships

79%

of developers confirmed they gained new or improved their existing skills

51%

of participating teams leveraged Facebook’s Open Source technology (e.g React, GraphQL) in their final solutions

364

projects built by participants

Source: #BuildforSDG Challenge Cohort 1 and 2 end-of-program surveys in June and October, 2020

Hands-on learning and mentorship while solving sustainable development problems

Andela and Facebook launched the #BuildforSDG Challenge: a six-week immersive program where selected developers worked in agile remote teams and built innovative projects that worked toward a sustainable development goal.

During the program, the developers leveraged Facebook Open Source tools and technologies including React, Docusaurus, GraphQL and Facebook Login and built them into their solutions. They also participated in a Facebook Open Source Jam where two Facebook employees shared how the developers could contribute directly to Facebook’s Open Source tools and the Facebook Open Source repository.

Throughout the course of the #BuildforSDG Challenge, the teams worked together to create innovative solutions that not only honed their technical skills and prepared them for a career, but helped them solve a sustainability challenge within their local community.

For example, Lagos-based software developer Emilia Uduaka came to the program with the idea of developing a system that enables the provision, administration and regulations required to support loans for businesses in need to address a gap in her local community. Through the #BuildforSDG Challenge, Emilia connected with expert mentors and formed a team with developers from Uganda and Ghana. Together with her teammates, Emilia identified the problem that has contributed to the failure of about 33% of SMEs in Nigeria: a lack of access to funds to grow their business. Investors did not have a transparent system that could ensure funds are utilized and because of this, many organizations and agencies willing to invest in SMEs ultimately rescinded their interest or offers. To solve this issue, Emilia and her team leveraged Facebook React technology to build a solution in six weeks that helps SMEs access loans. This addition to her developer profile can help give her the edge she needs to land a remote employment role in the near future.

Another graduate from the program as well as the Developer Circles training partnership in 2019, is Dedan Mutiri, a university student and Angular front-end web developer based in Nairobi, Kenya with a particular interest in cybersecurity. When Dedan joined the #BuildforSDG Challenge, it was his first time working in an agile team on a tech product remotely, and his expectations were to gain technical and team know-how while strengthening his existing skills. By challenging himself to work remotely while also fulfilling university commitments, he not only grew his technical knowledge but honed important career-focused skills, including how to work better under pressure and manage his time well to adhere to strict deadlines. Through the skills and experience gained from the program, Dedan was able to complete his university internship project remotely. Now in his final year of university, he looks forward to putting his new skills into practice as a freelancer, and supporting other developers in the dev communities, particularly his university achieving their goals in web development.

Daniel Olagunju came to the program as an experienced software developer with core competencies in front-end development and Python. He wanted to tackle building a waste management system. The absence of such a system in his home country of Nigeria has become one of the top causes of air and water-borne diseases, which have contributed massively to the spike in the mortality rate of infants. Daniel worked with his #BuildforSDG Challenge team to build WasteCoin, a localised waste management prototype that facilitates waste reduction and recycling, using Facebook React and Codacy for qualitative code checks. The team’s vision is to encourage proper waste collection and disposal possible by making it the daily responsibility of every citizen that is incentivised through an adaptable rewards-based system. Daniel and his team are currently in talks with a Scottish company to collaborate on a similar project that would potentially launch in the African market, with Nigeria as its first point of call.

Raising the bar on innovation in Africa

As a result of the challenge, we were able to create a unique and practical learning program for our talent that leveraged our expertise in supporting learners in small groups and providing mentorship, and also created opportunities for software developers in Africa.

What the developers had to say:

“Through the #BuildforSDG Challenge the statement “you own your own learning” has never been clearer than it is to me now – I can confidently say the biggest barrier in my life was believing I was done learning – I thought I had learned enough and that I did not need to continue advancing and building my skills. This program proved to me that new and improved skills are in high demand.”

Emilia Uduaka
Software Developer

“Aside from the improvement in my software development skills, the #BuildforSDG Challenge taught me one of the biggest lessons in my life: strong interpersonal skills are necessary for developers. This is a skill most developers are not aware they need, but people must and should be able to work with you, especially now that our ecosystem is embracing remote work more than ever.”

Daniel Olagunju
Front-end Developer

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