Andela — a recruiter of African tech talent — has laid off almost 10 percent of its workforce and shifted its business model once again as it aims to “safeguard its future,” according to CEO Jeremy Johnson.
A Nigerian startup, Andela is based in New York City, training and outsourcing African engineers and coders to work for global firms. The company has laid off 135 non-engineering staff as it deals with the economic impact of covid-19, Techcrunch reported.
That brings Andela’s workforce down to 1,199 employees operating in offices in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Egypt, and the U.S.
Senior executives in the company have agreed to take salary cuts of 10-to-30 percent, Techcabal reports.
Andela is also opening up recruitment to non-employees for the first time. Engineers outside of the company can now apply for Andela opportunities.
This is a major change because, until now, in order to actually be placed with a company, the developers had to be a full-time Andela employee working from one of its offices.
The news of layoffs is a stark contrast to the African tech talent recruiter’s fortunes in early 2019. Andela raised a $100 million Series-D round in January 2019, bringing its total investment to date to $181 million, according to Crunchbase.
Andela CEO Johnson described the layoffs as “a necessary measure aimed at safeguarding the future of Andela” in a blog post published on May 8.
These are not the first layoffs at Andela. In November 2019, Andela laid off 420 junior engineers after struggling to find them jobs due to a saturated market for skilled junior developers in the U.S., its most important market.
Following the 2019 layoffs, Andela shifted its business model to focus on senior developers which it said were easier to place than junior coders, according to the Andela blog.
The company is switching gears once again and embracing a “fully remote” business model, though it is not clear how this will affect the offices and whether any will be closed.
Andela has offices in nine cities across seven countries — Lagos, Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, Cairo, Accra, New York City, San Francisco, and Austin. The company has, until now, employed engineers who work remotely from Andela’s offices for more than 200 other companies — most based in the U.S.
“We’ve now proven that we can operate fully remote by delivering excellent work to our customers over the past couple of months. We will continue to ensure that our engineers have the infrastructure needed to operate at a world-class level,” Johnson wrote in the blog post.
“Moving forward, we will expand the network to include top engineers from across the continent, and eventually around the world — and we won’t require engineers to be full-time employees to apply for opportunities,” wrote Johnson.
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Johnson said that the previous policy limited the opportunities Andela could provide, while also limiting the spectrum of talent available to customers.
Since launching in 2014, the company has hired and developed more than 1,000 software engineers across the continent who collectively help power the technology teams of more than 150 global companies, including Mastercard, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Viacom, Pluralsight and GitHub.
Andela was the first major investment ($24 million) made by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
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