Following the digital disruption that occurred across various industries in the last decade, it is apparent that some skills are more in demand than others.

For instance, seven of the top ten companies in the world are digital companies, and even more, establishments now aim to incorporate digital practices. This transformative trend has resulted in an increased demand for people with related competencies that can fit into several roles.

Although building a career in the tech space can be quite demanding in terms of resources, a convenient solution has now become available. Codar has developed a platform that allows talented individuals to get software engineering skills without going through the inconvenience of funding the process themselves.

Founded and funded by David Sokefun and Olusegun Williams, who has been involved in the tech ecosystem for two decades, most of which were spent investing and accelerating ventures and startups, the initiative seeks to resolve Nigeria’s under-representation on the global scene and build a sustainable system for people to launch their digital careers.

Nigeria in focus

David is now focusing on investing in Nigerian talents due to the prevalent unemployment and underemployment issues in the country. Despite government and individual efforts to address these challenges, inadequate infrastructure in certain sectors, such as agriculture, is hindering significant progress.

To solve this problem, Codar was introduced, which provides quick employment opportunities by connecting individuals with trainers and resources they need to meet global standards. He views this as a chance to build a value chain for software engineers, starting from training, providing necessary infrastructure, and ultimately leading to employment. He emphasizes that the platform will provide trainees with direct connections that will enhance their exposure.

David highlights the importance of digital skills in a globally competitive market and says, “There are millions of talented Nigerians capable of producing top-notch software. Companies in England and America are in need of software engineers and will not flock to Nigeria unless they have credible connections. That’s where our startup comes in – to bridge the gap and connect Nigerian talents with potential employment opportunities.”

Making of Codarlites

Codar was established in September 2020 and began its training program in  2021. The program offers professional tutoring to talented individuals who apply through the company’s website.

Admission to the 4-month software engineering program is determined by merit. However, some selected participants may not have the means to pay for the program upfront.

Williams explains that although the program requires payment, they have arranged student loan financing through their partners. Once an individual is accepted into the program, they can receive the funds necessary to pay their fees through a loan.

In other words, the company invests in the future potential of its participants, even though it relies on the profits from training fees. They provide financing options for those who are selected but cannot afford the program, meaning they do not receive payment until the participants start earning after completing the program.

Williams states that the student loan financing for the software engineering program comes from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI). This initiative was established to provide low-cost, long-term financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the Nigerian creative and technology sectors, with the goal of promoting job creation.

The fee for the software engineering training is ₦300,000 ($654.20) if it is self-paid and it is inclusive of job placement, although other plans exist depending on capabilities. We also allow payment of ₦50,000 ($109.3) for the student loan option and then deduct the sum of ₦300,000  after we have gotten you a job after the training. The total cost for the student loan is ₦350,000 ($763.23).

So far, over 150 Codarlites — successful graduates of the training school — have been produced in five cohorts, with the sixth and seventh currently in training.

By May, more than two hundred Codarlites would have been trained. This means that more companies get to meet their demand for engineers both locally and internationally.

Expansion plans

David reveals that Codar has ambitious plans to train 500 software engineers before 2023 ends through multiple intakes in subsequent cohorts. The current year is expected to have at least four additional cohorts. Despite this, David acknowledges that this only meets a fraction of the demand for skilled software engineers.

Initially, all graduates from the program were hired by local companies, but as the number of graduates has increased, Codar now employs a portion of them to work for both local and international partner companies. Graduates have the option to either take a job directly from other companies or stay with Codar as an employee. Approximately 30% of the cohort chooses to work for Codar while the rest are absorbed by local and international companies.

Complementarity in place of competition

According to Williams, even though Codar tries to fill the gap left by Andela’s ending of its junior developer training program. However, he does not view Andela as a competitor, instead seeing the emergence of more startups in the field as complementary and a positive for the ecosystem.

The mission of Codar is to make Nigeria a top player in the tech industry with a focus on software engineering. To achieve this, there need to be 600,000 active software engineers in the country, and Williams believes that Codar alone cannot hire all of them. Hence, he feels it’s important to have competitors in the market to help achieve this goal.

Growth despite drawbacks

David- one of the founders of Codar, a startup focused on training software engineers said the company had difficulties in funding the training of its cohorts before the CIFI came through.

However, as the startup generated revenue, this issue was properly managed. Codar is currently working on setting up more campuses to accommodate at least 250 Codarlites at a stretch, but expansion to markets outside of Nigeria is not part of their business objective.

The company’s mission is to make Nigeria a top ten software engineering country in a decade, and David believes this can only be achieved by streamlining the talent resources of the country, which will have a transformational impact on the location of these engineers.

Having 3000 software engineers in Nigeria earning between $1,000 and $2,000 per month over the next five years could have a significant positive impact on the country’s economy. The influx of high-skilled workers and their salaries could boost local businesses, increase demand for goods and services, and lead to job creation.

By focusing on creating a concentrated pool of talented engineers, Nigeria could establish itself as a hub for technology and innovation, similar to India. This could lead to increased investment and further economic growth.

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