Software programming training academy WeThinkCode has secured R9.2 million funding to open a new campus in Durban.
WeThinkCode operates campuses in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and the Durban facility will assist the academy to fulfil its plan to double student intake to 600 this year.
Launched in SA in 2015, the academy seeks to eliminate the digital skills shortage by developing 100 000 coders in Africa over a 10-year period.
Announcing the Durban expansion plans today, WeThinkCode says the academy is evolving and continually improving its operating model and this includes making programmes accessible to more people, hence the decision to open a campus in Durban.
The funding committed by E Squared Investments will be paid out over three years and will go towards equipping the building, staff resourcing as well as costs towards establishing the new curriculum.
E Squared is the BBBEE partner of Allan Gray and promotes equality through the provision of capital to businesses created by historically disadvantaged individuals and organisations that support similarly disadvantaged communities in SA.
WeThinkCode offers a two-year software programming course, which is fully sponsored.
“The academy is open for everyone. Specifically, we aim to increase the number of women programmers on our course each year. Our target is for women to exceed 40% of our 600-strong student contingent. Geographical expansion and the inclusion of more women are not the only evolutionary processes happening at WeThinkCode,” says CEO Nyari Samushonga.
“Finding candidates with the best aptitudes and attitudes is crucial, and we are using a newly-developed approach to identify talent and uncover the required cognitive skills. In addition, we draw on the expertise of leading technologists for the design of our course material. These experts are continually updating the course as technologies change.”
Additionally, she says, although the academy currently enjoys a 98% employment rate of graduates at average annual starting salaries of R240 000 a year, “we are refining our selection process to reduce the number of young people who drop out of the programme”.
Commenting on funds committed by E Squared, Cheryl Jacob, head of social entrepreneurship at the company, says: “As an impact investor whose mandate is to attack poverty and unemployment in South Africa, there are strong synergies between WeThinkCode’s involvement in assisting disadvantaged young people and E Squared’s social entrepreneurship initiative.”
The move to launch a campus in Durban will give more South Africans the opportunity to join the digital world and help build the country’s technology skills capability, says Samushonga.
“We know that South Africa has a vast pool of untapped talent with the aptitude to be trained in technology. At the same time, our youth unemployment is among the highest in the world.
“Like any successful business, WeThinkCode is evolving and continually improving its operating model and this includes making our programmes accessible to more people. Geography plays an important role here as many candidates are unable to access our existing campuses.Hence our decision to open in Durban, South Africa’s third biggest metropole.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitisation process in businesses and demand for these skills is increasing exponentially. The Durban metropole, particularly, has seen significant growth in business activity over the past few years,” comments Samushonga.
“While much of our teaching is done online, we do have important teaching phases when our students need to come onto campus. In addition, there are two intern periods within the two-year course that need to be undertaken near our students’ homes. KwaZulu-Natal youngsters wanting a start in software programming can now apply for a place on their doorstep.”