Elohor Thomas, CEO and Co-founder of CodeLn
There is no doubt that the tech hiring process is broken and there is not one single way of solving this problem across the world. In Africa, CodeLn is a trusted tech recruitment platform for validating and verifying skills of software developers enabling work place fit and reducing on-boarding cost. In this e-Interview, Elohor Thomas the CEO and Co-founder speaks with Alaba Ayinuola, on how CodeLn is disrupting the tech hiring process in Africa with the use of technology and exposing Africa Tech Talents to the world. Guided with the vision to becoming the global go-to marketplace for verified and certified African Software Developers. Excerpts.
Alaba: Tell us about CodeLn and the role you play?
Elohor: Codeln is an end-to-end Technical Recruitment platform offering the best approach to recruiting Software Developers by automating the entire process thereby cutting down technical recruitment time. We understand that recruiting Software Developers is a hectic and time-consuming process and if not properly conducted, the company risks having a bad hire. Finding and identifying skilled talents is quite a process and employing a wrong fit slows down technical productivity rate. We thereby make recruiting Software Developers a fast and easy process for companies. CodeLn currently operates across Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Kenya.
Our key services:
Talent Sourcing: we help companies find skilled Software Developers through our online marketplace of pre-vetted Software Developers. To ensure quality, we verify the coding skills of all candidates before we place them on our platform by testing their coding skills using a project-based approach.
Screening: validating the skills of potential employees cannot be overemphasized. Using our Testing Platform, we help verify the coding skills of Software Developers by giving them projects (workplace sample tests) to build on our online Integrated Development Environment (IDE). We check for code quality based on standards and best practices.
I am the CEO and Co-founder supported by three brilliant co-founders: Dexter Ouattara, Dennis Ruhiu, and Philisiah Mwaluma.
Alaba: What was your startup fund and how were you able to raise it?
Elohor: We have raised $100,000 in funding from Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST). MEST is part of Meltwater, a global media intelligence firm founded by Jorn Lyseggen. My co-founders and I participated in a one-year intensive training by MEST after which we received funding.
Alaba: What are the challenges, competitions and how are you overcoming them?
Elohor: We are solving a global problem, no doubt the tech hiring process is broken and there is not one single way of solving this problem across the world. The problem itself is a huge one to tackle but we are offering the best approach that suits our market because we have a good understanding of this market.
Yes, there are competitors addressing different parts of the value chain within and out of Africa. But we have strategically placed ourselves in the value chain in a way that we can collaborate and partner with others for mutually beneficial purposes.
Alaba: What is the future for CodeLn and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Elohor: Our vision is to become the global go-to marketplace for verified and certified African Software Developers. We are not just building a business but we are building a community of skilled Tech Talents that can be outsourced to companies anywhere in the world. Africa has got Tech Talent, we are here to expose these Talents to the world.
The team is a pan African team from Nigeria, Kenya and Ivory Coast. This is our key strength for scaling our business fast across Africa and to other parts of the world.
Also, we are creating strategic Partnerships/collaborations with other players in the value chain to achieve this.
Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa?
Elohor: We help reduce the rate of unemployment of Software Developers in Africa. We noticed that there are skilled and qualified Software Developers that are unemployed. Even though their skills are in high demand, they are not properly matched with the right jobs. We therefore help match these Software Developers to Job opportunities.
Also, our platform allows these Software Developers to create a portfolio of projects. We do this to help them improve their skills and most importantly to encourage them to use technology to solve local African problems.
Aaron Fu, MD at MEST Africa, Elohor Thomas, CEO and Co-founder and Dexter Ouattara, CPO and Co-founder at the TechCrunch Battlefield 2018 held in Lagos, Nigeria.
Alaba: What’s your view on the development of Africa business ecosystem?
Elohor: I see great potential and opportunity for growth. Africa is indeed a wealthy continent with lots of untapped opportunities. Although certain resources are limited, with the right support from the government and also personal zeal from Entrepreneurs, it will be easy for businesses to grow.
Alaba: What advice would you give entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?
Elohor: I would advise them to brace up, it is not going to be an easy ride. Being an Entrepreneur requires great resilience, it is easy to start the journey but sustaining a business is where it gets tough. But the good news is that once you get it right, your business immediately starts growing immensely. They always say Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but you never know till you start. So start fast and fail fast if need be.
For Investors, I would encourage them to start investing now in African Businesses and Startups because the prospects are high. Investing now will be a wise decision that will yield maximum benefits in the future.
Alaba: What inspires you and keeps you going?
Elohor: Firstly, my passion and purpose for existence is my driving force. I believe that God created everyone for a purpose and I would like to fulfill mine before I am gone so that I will be remembered for great impact.
Secondly, I have mentors who motivate me. My father is my number one mentor, he raised me into believing that there is nothing I cannot do, I owe my resilient attitude to him.
Thirdly, my co-founders. They are the wheels that keep me moving in business. Their zeal always reminds me that I am not alone in this Entrepreneurial journey.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Elohor: My major hobbies are watching movies and hiking. I mostly read motivational and Tech books.
Elohor Thomas is a native of Delta State, Nigeria. She is the CEO and Co-founder of CodeLn, an online Technical Recruitment Platform that helps Companies seamlessly recruit skilled Programmers.
She has trained over 500 people on Software Development where she noted the problem of unemployment and underemployment amongst Programmers even after they have gone through a tough Technical Training. She is now focused on connecting Programmers to employment opportunities. She believes in reshaping the tech hiring process in Africa.
A Tech Enthusiast, Mentor, and Teacher by passion.
Visit: CodeLn today!
Opeyemi Adeyemi: Addressing menstruation stigma with her invention, The Flow Game
Opeyemi Adeyemi fondly called dryemz is a Public Health Physician and owner of the sexual health clinic which runs under O and A Medical Center Ogun State, Nigeria. She had her medical training in Sumy State University, Ukraine and MscPH from the University of South Wales. Opeyemi invented The Flow Game in an effort to address menstruation stigma and has written two books on sexual and reproductive health. Her foundation runs the Brave Boys and Girls club which travels around the South western part of Nigeria to provide sex education to children and teenagers in the effort to fight against public health issues like teenage pregnancy, STIs, HIV/AIDS and Sexual assault. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on her social entrepreneurship journey, The Flow Game and why she is addressing sexual and reproductive health issues. Excerpts.
Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about yourself and your social entrepreneurship journey?
Opeyemi: I am a public health physician who is passionate about sexual and reproductive health. I am also the creator of the FLOW GAME which is West Africa’s first board game that teaches menstrual health. My journey started in 2017 during my NYSC program where I met with the impact of misinformation and lack of access to youth friendly sexual clinics had on teenagers and young people. This led me to the start of The Brave Boys and Girls Club tour around secondary schools where students are given age specific sexuality education free of discrimination and judgment. From touring, it gave birth to menstruation workshops, consent workshops and now creation of board games that are afrocentric and youth friendly.
Alaba: What inspired you to launch O & A Medical Center and The Menstrual Flow Game?
Opeyemi: The Sexual Health Clinic is under O and A Medical Center in Asero, Abeokuta where anybody regardless of your background, gender, sexual orientation or any other status can get care for sexual and reproductive health issues. We offer a wide range of services that are cost friendly for the average Nigerian. The Flow game was created because during the tour, I realized the power of menstruation stigma, so decided to involve the team of expertise and the girls from the club in the creation.
Alaba: What is the core issue you are addressing with the Flow Game?
Opeyemi: Menstruation is a subject that still has a great level of shame attached to it. Some cultures still see menstrual blood as dirty blood. Some girls use harmful products to collect their menstrual blood. The Flow Game is a fun way to teach menstrual health and hygiene. The game covers four main areas: the female reproductive system, menstruation and menstrual related health issues, menstrual products, pregnancy and contraception. Other issues touched on include sexual assault, consent and sexually transmitted infections.
Alaba: How have you attracted users and grown the platform from the start?
Opeyemi: The platform is currently being reviewed as the plan is to take it digital; decided to start with a board game as it is easier with the tours, besides an average Nigerian teenager might not have the resources to play the game online and did not want to miss out on these sets of people. The buzz around the game is increasing, the game was recognized on Menstrual Hygiene Day 2021 by the African Coalition for Menstrual Health Hygiene and the Indian Commissioner of Women Affairs during a conference held in Bangladesh.
Alaba: Data protection is a concern for users of health platforms. Could you explain your data protection policy?
Opeyemi: Right now we are are currently working on our policy but I can assure users that they would be protected besides the data page in design would require nickname, age, sex and email address.
Alaba: Would you expand in the direction of male health (fertility, contraception, etc)?
Opeyemi: Yes, in June, 2021. In a bid of getting a project with an international organization, the Play It Safe board game was created and it is currently being tested in the school tours. The game is for both genders and covers safe sex practices.
Alaba: As a social entrepreneur, what has been your biggest challenge up until now?
Opeyemi: The field I chose is still faced with a lot of stigma, so a lot of sensitization is involved, changing mindsets and cultures associated with it. The second I would say is finances, balancing the cost of production and the ability of the target community to afford the services rendered.
Alaba: The term Femtech is still quite new. What is your opinion of the state of Femtech industry and its growth?
Opeyemi: Femtech has had a massive impact on female health, so many innovative ideas that are gender specific. A good example are period tracking apps which have allowed women to track the menstrual cycle, have a better understanding of their cycle and make informed decision about fertility. I am happy to be in the industry and I know there is still so much more to be done especially in Nigeria.
Alaba: Where do you see the Flow Game and sexual wellness in the next 5 years?
Opeyemi: This is one question I keep asking myself every day, I desire to go beyond the Flow Game. Very few innovations on sexual and reproductive health tailored to the African woman. I would like to be one of the women creating sexual health innovations that are Afrocentric in the next five years.
Alaba: As an inspiring social entrepreneur, what piece of advice would you give to fellow female entrepreneurs?
Opeyemi: Invest in knowledge; learn from those who have done things in your desired field. Also understand that gender is nothing more than a social construct it does not define YOU, whatever you want to achieve is not tied to gender. Dream big and take steps to turn the dreams into realities.
Interview with Insure Africa Founder, Judith Pila On Driving Insurance Inclusion
Judith Pila, Founder Insure Africa (Image: Supplied)
Judith Pila is the Founder of Insure Africa, a company whose main goal is to drive insurance inclusion in Africa through literacy, education, and awareness. Aside being an insurance professional, Judith is a contributing writer to Insuranceopedia, an online insurance information platform focused on Canada and US markets. She is the Content Director for Ladies Corner Canada Magazine, a Board Director for LCC Media Foundation. She volunteers with various organizations like, Insurance Institute of Canada, Career Education Council, SoGal Foundation. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, she speaks on her entrepreneurship journey into the insurance ecosystem and why she is driving insurance inclusion with Insure Africa. Excerpts.
Alaba: Could you briefly tell us about yourself and how you end up building in the insurance space?
Judith: My name is Judith Pila, born and raised in Nigeria, I now live in Canada. My journey to the insurance industry was purposive and one inspired by the need to do something different in an environment where it seemed everyone else wanted regular careers. Shortly after I moved to Canada, I already knew the industry was where I needed to be. In 2015, I began my career in insurance.
Alaba: For those who don’t know, what does Insure Africa do?
Judith: Insure Africa is a company that is, focused on driving insurance inclusion in Africa through literacy, education and awareness. We also provide consulting services to individuals and small businesses, we help them make smart and informed insurance decisions to help meet their personal and business goals.
Alaba: What makes Insure Africa special from other startups driving insurance inclusion?
Judith: While other startups are driving insurance inclusion through Artificial Intelligence and Technology, Insure Africa is doing same through literacy, awareness, making sure that Africans are well informed about insurance, so that when they decide to take on any insurance products, they are equipped with the knowledge they need.
Alaba: What have been the biggest challenges and successes in building Insure Africa till date?
Judith: I think I would have less to say in this regard, considering that Insure Africa has been actively operating as a company for only about four months. I think the biggest challenge has been trying to convince people that we are not insurance salespeople. I think the moment you mention insurance to someone in Africa, they feel like you are trying to sell them a product. People that we have been able to reach, see value in the services we offer and have given us positive feedbacks, I would consider that a success.
Alaba: How has the insurance industry evolved?
Judith: Unlike before, when most people thought insurance was only for the rich and large corporations, more and more people are now seeing the need for insurance. The Covid-19 pandemic has also proved the importance of insurance. And with the use of technology, insurance companies are now offering insurance products through different channels making it more accessible to consumers like never before.
Alaba: Kindly share the most difficult part of being a CEO of a startup?
Judith: I think one of the most difficult part is the unpredictability, that what you are trying to build will either fail or be a success.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Judith: I feel great and inspired by other African entrepreneurs who have made it to the top.
Alaba: What are Insure Africa’s expansion plans in terms of product, tech & markets in the next 5 years?
Judith: We are more of a service company and have plans of reaching as many people as possible that might need our services. We do have tech plans but are not ready to share those plans yet. We already have representatives in about 5 African countries and think that the opportunities are endless, and the future is looking bright.
Alaba: Finally, what piece of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Judith: Keep building, there are going to be tough days, but hold on to the vision and hope for a better end.
Edith Njage: My Letter to fellow Female CEOs
Edith Njage, Co-Founder and current CEO of Arielle for Africa (Image: Supplied)
Edith Njage is a Social and Serial Entrepreneur based in Africa. She is the Co-Founder and current CEO of Arielle for Africa, which aims to create over 100,000 jobs in Africa through empowering, training, coaching and connecting and funding entrepreneurs. Edith is the Country Representative for Invicta Ventures on a mission to fund social impact ventures with up to $10 billion in developing markets. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Finance and a Bachelor in Business Management with a major in Economics. A Master of Science in International Business with a major in Disruptive Innovation and a Master of Science in Finance, both from HULT International Business School. Excerpts of her letter below;
There are realities that come with being a woman in leadership that in most cases remain secret.
Realities faced but not communicated.
My journey as a Young, Black and Female CEO has been nothing short of rough, tough and everything in-between. The hardest truth is that the journey has been lonely with no-one to turn to, until I decided to make changes to not only my leadership, but my circles as well. I began my journey as a serial entrepreneur at 18, relatively young in the books of most but when a problem in your continent calls, age is never a factor. I became a CEO at 24 and to date I wish someone explained the realities of being a woman in leadership. Especially a young and black woman in leadership.
I wish I knew the bias that I would face each time I walked into a room and sat on the table when most expected me to just bring the coffee,
I wish I knew that fundraising would be more about my gender and race than the value my companies brought to the table,
I wish I knew that the most powerful weapon a female CEO can wield is a network of other female CEOs,
I wish I didn’t do it all alone.
Dear Female CEOs,
You are powerful. You are graceful, You are beautiful in leadership. I know that the world has taught you to blend in, I know you have been told to use your position or title to protect your vulnerability and I know most days it feels like no-one in the world can understand what it is like to be you. I want you to know the key to our strength is each other. I want you to know that rather than face the bias alone, rather than rise to the top alone, we can band together and not only rise but build a system for the next generation of female CEOs to struggle less than we did.
Where the world has called us bossy, let’s exude grit and relentless pursuit of our dreams,
Where they have called us soft, we can preach emotional intelligence and finally,
Where they have prevented our progress, we can build paths for the progress of other women after us.
This is our time, but we cannot go at it alone. We must band together and begin talking about these realities, not in secret but for the world to see. It is for this reason that I decided about a month ago that enough was enough and that it was important for me to begin sharing the truth behind my journey as a Young, Black and Female CEO. I started a podcast!
Since beginning this journey I am in awe of how many women in leadership, in business, in politics and in corporate have reached out sharing their stories!
The Latest Episode is available below (streamed to Spotify and Apple Podcast). Adding onto that I have decided to be intentional about building a Female CEO Global Board. A space for Female CEOs to share their stories, struggles, plans for growth of their businesses and so much more!
If this is something that interests you and you would like to join us next week or maybe just find a safe space and community of women who understand, book a coffee chat with me here; https://calendly.com/edith-njage-alpha-group/one-on-one
I became intentional about building circles with fellow female CEOs and investing into those circles so that as a tribe we would all rise! Rise in business, rise in our purposes and pursuits and rise in who we are as people in the world.
As always, I hope that unashamedly sharing my truth will help you know that you are never alone.