In our work here at Microsoft, we focus on big social challenges that can be addressed through better technology and innovative thinking. Among our highest priorities are 1) spreading entrepreneurship and 2) delivering skills through innovative computer science education. Typically, we in New York focus our efforts on spreading these skills within our own community. But it’s important to remember that ours is a big world, and there are various challenges to be met and needs to be filled.
For any entrepreneur or group of innovators, New York City offers a fantastic launchpad for their efforts. A prime example is The Andela Institute, a NYC-based startup with a mission of “eliminating the global skills gap.” Founded by Jeremy Johnson, who previously co-founded the publicly-traded 2U, Andela just yesterday revealed its work to the public for the first time. The big announcement took place here in New York, where the company is headquartered.
Andela uses a fellowship model that allows talented young people with the aptitude but not the means to both learn and work at the same time, earning wages while growing their skills over time. The first class of Andela fellows has already been selected. From over 5,000 applicants, 28 talented young people in Lagos, Nigeria made it through. That’s an acceptance rate of roughly half a percent that is achieved through a mix of proprietary and third-party assessments to determine which of the applicants have the most aptitude to become great programmers.
“The caliber of talent at Andela ranks in the top 1% of all workers being assessed on our systems worldwide,” said Neil MacGregor, CEO of Plum.io, a pre-employment assessment company. “Every Andela developer has a problem-solving ability in the top 5% of the workforce, making them among the brightest recruits anywhere. Simply put, Andela recruits are some of the most brilliant, driven, and detail-oriented developers we have ever seen.”
Some of these Fellows have already begun work. “Our Andela developer is fantastic,” said Bob Calise, CTO of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), a current Andela partner. “Brice is gifted, focused and responsive. I don’t need to micromanage him – I just give him a task and when I check back in, it’s done. I look forward to bringing on another Andela developer.”
It will be exciting to see Andela grow and refine its efforts. Complementing the many efforts occurring in classrooms across the US and around the globe, Andela promises to contribute valuable skills that improve lives and help to close the tech skills gap that many companies face.
As Microsoft continues to partner with the city, non-profits, schools, and other companies on closing the skills gap in our communities, Andela demonstrates the potential for entrepreneurs to create impact across boundaries and around the world. And there is no better place from which to do that than right here in New York.