The IRON List - October 11, 2017

1. Industry: After V.C.

Andela, a venture capital firm backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is poised to accelerate expansion of its start-up tech and talent incubator in Africa. According to Forbes, the recent Series C investment in Andela marks “one of the largest investments ever led by an African venture firm into an Africa-based technology company.”

Companies like Andela point to a recurring issue on the African continent - an apparent never-ending need for private companies/investors to provide the practical training necessary for Africans to (a) become employable at minimum, and (b) develop high-in-demand skills to be competitive in a global labor market. Greater investments in VC firms is a good indicator of commitment to the growth of the African workforce, but questions regarding sustainability of these investments remain up in the air.

“We hope to see a continued influx of high quality investment firms investing in the region. This will primarily be driven by Sub Saharan Africa’s combination of (i) strong economic growth (6% for ’14-’19F), rapid urbanization (450m urbanites by 2020), rapidly growing young population (60%+ of population is under the age of 35), rising household incomes, and (ii) improved governance.”--Forbes, “African Venture Capital Firm Leads $40M Series C Investment In Andela.”

“The challenge for Andela will be expanding its model to meet its lofty growth targets. ‘Andela has delivered on its promise so far, but can it keep finding high-quality talent and finding relevant employment for them as it gets bigger?’ asked Aniedi Udo-Obong, a Google program manager who works with software developers in Africa.” --New York Times, “Start-Up Bets on Tech Talent Pipeline From Africa.”

“The thinking goes, Africa can leapfrog traditional milestones of growth. But for investors like Omoigui, this thinking betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the African tech ecosystem.” --Quartz, “Africa’s tech ecosystems can’t work like Silicon Valley, and they shouldn’t try to.”

“Is there a right model for venture capital (VC) in East Africa? After working with primary and secondary sources, we concluded that such a right model does not exist at the moment.” --Digital Kenya, “Venture Capital in East Africa: Is There a Right Model?”

2. Research: It Takes A Village

Benson Ocan writes a paper on Ugandans’ support in improving primary schools, observing that community involvement in education reform is strikingly limited. Specifically, Ocan argues that “community participation in primary school activities in Uganda has drastically declined since the launch of Universal Primary Education,” attributing this to a relinquishing of “responsibility to Government...for its implementation and outcomes.” This, according to Ocan, is primarily to blame for the lack of infrastructural improvements for rural schools, in particular.

Read more here about Ocan’s suggestions to NGOs looking to work with local agents to revitalize Uganda’s schooling system.

3. Opportunities: Paid, Volunteer and Competitive

MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Challenge Celebration

Manager, Social Responsibility at Major League Soccer

Program Administrative Assistant at Open Society Foundations

Global Diversity & Social Responsibility Coordinator at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

4. Networking: NYU Stern in Africa Business Forum and Wharton Africa Business Forum

New York University’s Stern in Africa Business Forum, scheduled for October 28, 2017, will focus on the theme, “The Tipping Point: Accelerating Africa's Agenda.” The forum aims to bring voices from industry shapers across disciplines to share their personal experiences through TED talk-style short stories. Register here for the event.

In a similar vein, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Africa Business Forum will take place November 3 - 5th in Philadelphia, welcoming “thought leaders, dignitaries, CEOs, captains of industry and young professionals from around the world to contemplate career leadership and champion Africa as a business destination.” Early bird pricing is available now.