Seni Sulyman (MBA 2014) wants to rescript Africa’s role in the world. “For too long the continent has been seen as a place people give things to,” he says. “I want to connect Africa to the world on equal terms.” As vice president of global operations at tech company Andela, Sulyman is pursuing that vision by creating highly skilled African workers who will attract foreign investment and help build the businesses of the future. Launched in 2014, the company has received $180 million in venture-backed funding to date.
Andela offers a straightforward exchange: It employs and teaches select applicants the most in-demand programming languages and provides living expenses in exchange for contracted developer time with client organizations. Its acceptance rate is less than 1 percent, but the open source Andela Learning Community partners with Google and Microsoft to foster opportunities for education and collaboration beyond the company’s training program. “Andela employees will become founders and executives,” says Sulyman. “They will deploy what they’ve learned elsewhere in Africa.”
Based in Lagos, Sulyman understands the realities of working in Nigeria. (Andela also operates in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.) “Thirty years from now, I want to enjoy living here,” he says. “For me, that means building businesses that will alter the trajectory of society and thousands and thousands of people.”
Photo by Ruth McDowall
Class of MBA 2014, Section D