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!
Looking Back, Moving On: My little entrepreneurship journey in Africa
Zoussi Ley (Entrepreneur & Marketer)
When I concluded my Masters from IE Business School in Spain, I flirted with the thought of moving back to Africa. I wanted to work in an impactful and growing sector. I was drawn to the Tech industry, mostly because its impact is felt across other sectors. I truly believed technology held the keys to the continent’s economic development. I truly believed technology held the keys to the continent’s economic development. Hence, when I was offered a position at an Ivorian AgTech company, WeFly Agri, I packed my bags and moved to Abidjan.
My time in Ivory Coast came to an end when I had gathered enough to begin the entrepreneurship journey. While researching the African AgTech ecosystem, I found out about Complete Farmer, a crowd-farming platform based in Ghana. I was mesmerized by the concept of involving everyday people in African agriculture.
Coincidentally, I met one of the co-founders at DEMO Africa in October last year, where I got to learn more about the company and the team. I wanted to be part of that journey and contribute to the vision. Joining this venture felt right so within a few days of meeting the co-founder, I moved to Accra, Ghana to assume the role of Chief Marketing Officer at Complete Farmer.
During my time in Ghana, I got to meet and build a strong network of players across the food industry/agricultural value chain — from commercial farmers to commodities traders, supermarkets and agro-processing firms. A major new player I got to deal with is the Ghana Commodities Exchange (GCX), the first ever regulated market linking buyers and sellers of agricultural products in West Africa.
After passing the certification, I was able to start trading at the GCX. This move allowed Complete Farmer to gain access to a wide range of market actors, thereby creating opportunities for the company to increase its revenue streams.
Ghana taught me that a conducive ecosystem can make the tough entrepreneurship journey an enjoyable one. In fact, Complete Farmer was incubated by Pan-African incubator MEST, meaning my team and I were working out of the incubator’s office space alongside other entrepreneurs. I loved the MEST environment. As entrepreneurs, we received practical advice, got introduced to ecosystem partners and most importantly, I truly valued the guidance I got from the fellows and entrepreneurs.
My time at Complete Farmer illustrated the not-so-obvious benefits to having competitors. Of course, every entrepreneur should pay some attention to their competitors, as they’re an important part of business. Understanding how our competitors operate allows us to avoid making their own mistakes while giving us ideas to expand our market.
Being an entrepreneur in Africa also means collaborating with other startups. With Complete Farmer, I got to partner with Jetstream for logistics services, Qualitrace for agro chemicals and Stanbest for irrigation systems and this was exciting working with other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
On a personal note, I have also learned from many challenging and enlightening experiences through my journey. The first lesson has been to master my thoughts and emotions. Most lessons come from failures and setbacks. Although painful experiences, they develop the self-awareness to grow. They forced me to spend time on mastering my thoughts and emotions. As entrepreneurs, our cool is often tested.
Not being able to resist these frazzled emotions can lead an individual to react the wrong way, thereby causing setbacks and more failures. I learned that being clear-headed before making a decision gives me an edge when handling challenging situations.
My experience in Ghana showed the importance of building a network. As an entrepreneur, I quickly realized the importance of building relationships with other key players of the ecosystem — entrepreneurs, influencers, media platforms, investors and international organizations. You never know when an opportunity to collaborate may come!
Being an entrepreneur in Africa also taught me to stay curious and not stick to what I know. I had to learn to do my research on other industries, companies, and business models; to always be prepared to welcome new ideas and opportunities. All in all, I learned to embrace the challenges for personal growth and to find true joy in my entrepreneurship journey.
More so, I have come to appreciate researching about the vision and values of the organizations you work with. We get excited about new ventures, the prospects of building something new and having our names on a business card that I am a Co-Founder too. However, my experience over time, has taught me that doing your due diligence on the industry and your team while having a common goal and clear vision with your colleagues will get any start-up off the ground and running at a phenomenal pace.
So, in this light, I am stepping down from my role at Complete Farmer to pursue new and exciting opportunities in Lagos, Nigeria. I am grateful for my experience, the lows, the highs, the blessings and the lessons learned.
While I will remain in AgTech, I am exploring the personal care and beauty industry, a sector I believe technology can help redefine in Africa. I look forward to bringing my creativity and experience into this industry, from the economical heart of Africa — Lagos.
By Zoussi Ley (Entrepreneur & Marketer)
Cynthia M. Wright: On Becoming A Successful Speaker, Business Mentor And Organisational Strategist
Cynthia M. Wright, author of “The Purposeful Leader- 10 Steps to success.”
Ambition and motivation are an essential driving force for success. For Australia Day Ambassador, Organisational strategist, Social Entrepreneur and Global Purpose Leader Cynthia Musafili Wright, this internal drive spearheaded her career from nursing in Aged Car to a well-known consultant in the field. Like a renaissance woman, Cynthia spread her interests and with a healthy dose of enthusiasm became a successful keynote speaker, career and business mentor, global purpose leader as well as an organizational strategist.
Alaba: Tell us about yourself and what you do?
Cynthia: Cynthia Musafili Wright is a leader. Finding a better way was always one of my qualities since I arrived in Australia. I started as an assistant in nursing in Aged Care, and in a couple of years; I became a registered nurse and then a clinical nurse manager, then a clinical consultant. I tried to broaden my areas of expertise and got familiar with healthcare management, regulation compliance, and Meditech fields. All this opened the gate for Aged Care business model consultant career.
Alaba: What sparked your interest and passion for aged care and mental health?
Cynthia: Understanding the challenges of Aged Care business from top to bottom in developed countries helped me turn-around several facilities that failed to achieve Outcomes of the Aged Care National Standards successfully. My experience in organizing clinical management teams came to fruition and helped in restructuring. In all my actions, I try to have a positive impact.
Being around Aged Care organisations naturally led me further in that direction, and as for mental health, I recognized in many ways the importance of mental wellbeing and decided to make it my cause also. I go by the motto, if we don’t feel right in the heard, we can’t function well physically. As officially defined by the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Alaba: How has it being as an African Diaspora based in Australia with Africa in your heart?
Cynthia: I was born in Zambia and migrated to study in Australia at age 19. Being in Australia didn’t make me forget about my African roots. That is why I founded my social enterprise – Regions International once my career took off. The organization provides mentorship and advice for startups and SME who want to scale up into the African market.
Regions International collaborates with global organisations to host meaningful events to foster dialogue and discussion about investments, capacity building and socio-economic development for the African Continent. Another vital role for Regions is fostering sustainable corporate social responsibility projects in Africa and Australia.
Alaba: How are you using your influence and connecting to attract investment to Africa?
Cynthia: I’m a Country leader for Australia for organization called Innovative Africa. In this role, my team and I connect the tissue between the two continents. We aim to help incubate and birth real success stories of innovations that will touch the lives of Africans by providing an African Market Entry Solution and growth structures that will help drive prosperity into the African continent.
The innovate Africa global team lead by Founder and Global CEO Dotun Adeoye and Paulo Mukooza – Global Commercial Director, continues to work across many countries as a support framework for entrepreneurs looking to bring their market-creating innovation to life and companies looking to expand into the African continent. More on what we do visit Innovate Africa
Alaba: Kindly share your leadership journey.
Cynthia: One thing is sure, Cynthia Wright won’t be outspoken. I think I’m dynamic, try to be educational, and above all, inspiring in my work. My leadership journey goes beyond the titles I wear, it is quantifiable. As a leader, the main aim should always be moving forward that which has been given to you. If you are not moving things forward, then you cannot quantify your impact.
I do a lot of speaking and I am privileged to speak to crowds on topics that have been strongly influenced by my path. Topics such as Leadership and Purpose, I strive to inspire personal growth and build leadership qualities. Social issues are also part of my most inspiring speeches, where I have talked about migration, inclusion and diversity. Creating leaders is something I’m passionate about.
Alaba: What have you learned along the way that has helped shape you in your journey?
Cynthia: The key to my success both in career and business is centered on the ability to maintain partnerships and collaborations. Creating connections and understanding that it’s a give and take relationship contributed to success in so many fields. That social component, as well as constant learning and hard work, shaped me into the person that I am today.
I’m an Australia Day Ambassador, where I participate in awarding new Australian citizens, providing support in understanding civics and citizenship, active citizenship and promoting the Australian brand. On these occasions, I am honored with the role of a keynote speaker where I talk about Resilience, Skilled Migration, Leadership, Active Citizenship, and other relevant topics.
I am also work with the global brand of Tedx. I am the TEDx Perth partnership manager. This role allows me to create partnerships and collaborative approaches to achieving excellent goals and outcomes for our global viewership. I have many other roles that I am fully engaged in. more can be found on my website www.cynthiawright.org
Alaba: What are your projects for Africa and how are you engaging Africans in the continent to achieve them?
Cynthia: Through the Regions Foundations, I work with local Zambian hospitals to improve and enhance the best clinical practice. We also support rural Zambian hospitals with necessary clinical supplies and connect them with Australian clinical and hospital stakeholders. Regions also provide hospital-grade linen, wheelchairs, hospital beds and surgical supplies to rural hospitals and orphanages in Zambia.
Apart from my philanthropist projects, I have recently been engaging African talents in IT and graphic designing for all my upcoming projects and I am so excited to share this with my tribe in the next coming months. Without revealing too much information, I am also working on an infrastructure project for Ghana – where we intend to build a city for the future. More on this to come in the following months. Watch this space.
Alaba: Describe yourself in one word, and why?
Cynthia: Fearless. Most of us know what to do, but don’t take the actions to follow through on our goals. We tell ourselves that we are not smart enough, not strong enough or brave enough. What hold us back are not our capabilities – it’s the fear of failure. It’s okay to be afraid, but it is not okay to let fear stop you. I have learnt to set goals, identify what was holding me back, and learn to move past fear.
Alaba: How are you changing the negative narratives of African migrants in the Diaspora?
Cynthia: By owning my African heritage story and telling it loud and clear in my own works and through my work time and time again. We are our own best media, if we don’t tell our stories the way they should be told, no one will. That is why I founded Africa writes Australia – a platform focused on promoting positive narratives through story telling. More about Africa Writes Australia
Alaba: If you could make one remarkable change in the world by 2020, what would it is?
Cynthia: 2020 is in four months. I think the change I would make is to use my voice to speak more about Love and honour for each other as human beings. Without love, all this is meaningless.
Alaba: What’s your advice for African governments, Africans, and investors?
Cynthia: Invest in the African people. They are your best and only asset. Collaborate and engage with the African diaspora, they are a great addition to the needed skills and knowledge to foster economic development and help implement strategies for future growth. For investors, you would be crazy not to consider the African market for scaling up your business.
B I O G R A P H Y
Cynthia Musafili Wright is a Social Care Corporate Executive. She is currently the 2019 & 2020 Australia Day Ambassador and Australia Ambassador for Global Organisation Female Wave of Change and Founder/CEO of the Social Enterprise Regions International. Cynthia is currently a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the TedxPerth Manager of Partnerships. She is also a publisher of various articles on Resilience, Migration, International Education, and Aged Care and a recent author of books on International Education, Purpose and Mental Health.
She is an active international student alumnus in Australia. Having attended one of the best universities in the world, Cynthia describes her international student experience as an experience that helped shape her into the leader that she is today. In addition to her leadership and career success, the international exposure and opportunities that presented as a result of her studies have contributed to positioning her on a global platform for work and business.
Cynthia is passionate about creating a positive impact in the world by creating leaders. Her success in her Career and Business comes down to her ability to build and maintain partnerships and collaborations; Her success in life is attributed by the connections she creates with others and the extent to which she can give and receive. She has created success in her roles as Clinical Consultant in Corporate Australia, with thirteen years’ experience in the Aged care industry and leadership roles.
Afripreneur Profile: Dayo Adedayo, The Man Behind The Lens
‘dayo Adedayo was born in Nigeria in 1964 and trained as a photographer at the Westminster College and the University of Westminster, both in the United Kingdom.
His major breakthrough came when he worked as a freelance photojournalist with Ovation International, the Number 1 celebrity magazine in Africa. Several of his work adorns the front cover of the magazine for over a 4 year period and the best selling eAfdition, ‘See Dubai and Die’ in 2002 was by him.
He is the author of eleven books; Nigeria 2.0, Nigeria, Enchanting Nigeria, Nigeria The Magical, Lagos State- The Centre of Excellence and Ogun State – The Gateway State, Owe Yoruba, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation – Tourism is Life, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation 37 Years in Pictures, Rivers State – Our Proud Heritage, Tour Nigeria and Lagos State – The Centre of Excellence (A Visual Portrait).
His book, Nigeria, was the first of its kind since the creation of Nigeria since 1914. No wonder it became a sort after book by Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria.It was given out to the visiting Heads of State when Nigeria turned 50 in 2010, United Nations General Assembly in New York, 2013, Africa Union Summit on HIV/AIDS, 2013 and the West African Heads of State Security Summit in Abuja 2016 .
His work also adorned the pages of the E-Passport of Nigeria, the One Hundred Naira note to mark the centenary of Nigeria, the walls of the International Airports of Lagos, Abuja and several institutions and homes across Nigeria,and a member on the committee of setting up photography as a course in Nigeria Polytechnics.
The centenary edition of ‘MONOPOLY NIGERIA ’ by Bestman Games contains his work, so also were the pictures on display at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi International Airport, Abuja.
Also between 2005 and 2007 he was the official photographer for ‘NIGERIA – THE HEART OF AFRICA’, a project that precipitated a lot of travelling all around the world, exhibiting Nigeria to the world in pictures.
Adedayo hopes that his work will add to the growing canon of contemporary African photography that seeks to challenge perceptions, broaden audiences and show the world the beauty of Nigeria like never before.
Some of his works;
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The Africa Digital Entrepreneurship Event Live in Johannesburg
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Looking Back, Moving On: My little entrepreneurship journey in Africa
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World Food Day 2019 – Our Actions are Our Future
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