Semicolon Africa, an ed-tech startup, creating employment and economic opportunities by training software engineers and techpreneurs, has closed a US$1.2 million seed round of funding.
Semicolon is focused on preparing young people and companies in Africa for the digital economy by providing the requisite technology skills for Africa’s growing tech industry. The round, which was oversubscribed, had participation from angels and VCs like Launch Africa Ventures and Consonance Investment Managers.
Semicolon Africa was founded in 2019 by Sam Immanuel, a software engineer, passionate about people and economic development. According to him, “everyone does not need to become a software engineer but everyone needs to learn how to tech-enable their business in any industry” because technology is a key enabler to solving Africa’s many challenges.
The mission of Semicolon is to develop a generation of software engineering talent that will solve problems and create economic opportunities by addressing tech-skill gaps, nurturing talent, fostering innovation, and building a thriving tech ecosystem. The enterprise offers a one-year intensive training programme that is focused on problem-solving, software engineering, and business management skills.
Upon completion, Natives (as the students are called) have one of two career paths – employment with hiring partners, or techpreneurship for those with ideas they want to turn into businesses. Since its inception, Semicolon has onboarded nine cohorts and graduated four cohorts of software engineers.
In 2020, Google and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in a joint report disclosed that there are only 690,000 professional developers in Africa and that the top training pathways were being self-taught and through university programs. This figure represents 0.2 per cent of the 1.3 billion people in the continent. The report reinforces the need to grow more tech talent in order to strengthen the ecosystem that is capable of changing the course of Africa’s history.
Semicolon is bridging this gap, and it is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that it is just getting started. We know that unemployment, as a whole, on our continent is far from solved, but with the infusion of this capital, the startup believes that the numbers can definitely reduce.
The acquired fund will be used by Semicolon to increase its training, talent management, and project delivery capacity. Semicolon currently provides the critical support needed for techpreneurs to develop their startup ideas into blustering businesses. This cuts across early business support, product development, advisory, and training. Hence, the company is also renewing its focus on Semicolon Ventures; an arm of the business that has already birthed 20 new startups from its students. The startups which cut across diverse sectors like finance, healthcare, insurance, transportation, education, construction, tourism, etc., are using technology to address a variety of problems and also create job opportunities.
Beyond training software engineers and techpreneurs, Semicolon also serves as a strategic partner to companies seeking a digital transformation of their operations. Some of the services they render include corporate training, project delivery, and project outsourcing, which are carried out through Semicolon Labs.
Semicolon Africa hopes to expand to become the largest technology capacity-development hub in Africa’s ecosystem; with plans to empower and deploy thousands of skilled software engineers annually.