We want to build a school that will give access to the market – Adewale Yusuf
Adewale Yusuf is one of the players in the Nigerian startup scene and he is passionate about utilising technology to solve and leverage on and improve education in all its ramifications. The co-founder of startups like Techpoint and Alt School Africa whose humble background and beginnings are his foundational and core reasons for focusing on education and technology, sat down with Dolapo Aina for an interview in the final days of December 2021. Do read the excerpts of the interview.
Good evening Mr. Adewale Yusuf. What is Talent QL all about?
So thank you, we are a global talent, which means we connect the best software engineers from Africa to global opportunities, and also to local opportunities and any other opportunity which would be of benefit to them. So also, we have a pipeline of engineers, where we train software engineers, to be global and senior engineers and to be able to compete globally. So that’s what we do as a company. In a nutshell, that is what Talent QL is about.
How has the journey been since you commenced operations of Talent QL?
It has been amazing. We commenced about a year ago and it has been amazing. And we’ve been able to achieve a lot of things. We have been able to connect developers from Nigeria to the United States of America; we’ve been able to connect them to Dubai in the UAE; we’ve been able to connect them to the UK, to Germany, and to different parts of the world. And also, we’ve been able to assist a lot of Africa companies to get the best talents. It’s been amazing for we have connected engineers from Nigeria, which is still our largest market. Also, from Kenya and Ghana for now with other countries to follow.
Some months ago, you were in the news and it had to do with Rwanda for it was Rwanda-related. Do elaborate on your focus on Rwanda and why Rwanda?
One of the things we’ve discovered is that we are building Alt School Africa, which is going to be the largest school on the continent. It is an online school. But we have come to realise that Rwanda is one place that enables us to do a lot of things we wanted to do. And also, the Government of Rwanda has been so helpful. So, we just went there and then we realised that this is a very good place to actually develop an idea from its infancy and also to reach the rest of Africa from. That is one of the reasons we chose Rwanda.
And also, when we talk of Africa, a lot of people focus and talk about the English speaking (Anglophone part of Africa). We are focusing on the Francophone part too and we realised that Rwanda is one place where you can see the Francophone and the Anglophone in the same place, compared to any other part of Africa. So that’s one of the reasons why we’re using Rwanda.
Why are you focusing on Francophone rather than Anglophone?
Anglophone is the primary market, but we are still focusing on Francophone because this school we are building is for everybody or the continent. It is for every African and we don’t want to only focus on Anglophone, and this is what we’re going for. So, as we have Alt School Africa.com, we have English and French.
Do elaborate more on the Alt School Project.
Alt School Africa is a digital school and is like an alternative school. What we have realised is that in Africa, we have gotten to a place where we need to rethink education. Over years, a lot of curriculums have been the same. But right now. The demand for several skills is out and we are not producing solid candidates and solid students. Most of our schools are not producing the right students for these jobs. And that’s why we’re building Alt School Africa, which is, can we build a school that will give access to the market, to the skills in the market, so we can have people that actually qualify for these jobs? And that’s what we’re building. We’re starting with the School of Engineering, where we are going to be issuing diplomas to people that actually got admission and also people that got admission into school. They’re going to be getting diplomas in software engineering, which is front-end and back-end engineering and cloud engineering.
Next, we are launching our products and we are launching our school of blockchain. To be frank, we are launching different schools going forward. But we just want to say, Africans need a shortcut to the market. Let’s look at Nigeria, for example. We have over 600,000 people graduating every year, and we have thirty-three per cent of the population unemployed. How can we get people employed and how can we get them the skills? COVID has made and presented the opportunity because right now, it Is an open market.
A lot of companies are looking beyond the immediate market for talents and this is where we can play. This was a place where India, Indonesia and other markets have been playing over time. So Nigeria and Africa, we can play in this market. And that’s why we are now schooling people to have the right skills, and also the right certification for the job market.
This project you are embarking on, would it be situated in Nigeria?
So, we are hundred percent remote, which is online but some of the parts and elements would be distributed. Including some of our operations. Also, we are considering having the headquarters in Rwanda.
We are doing Rwanda because, as I rightly said, we’ve really received a good welcome. The government of Rwanda has been supportive, the RDB (Rwanda Development Board) Team, has been super supportive. And also, currently, we are applying for some licensing from the Rwandan Government, and it has been effortless. And we look at which market can we go to, that will support us because it is a movement. And you need to know that we’re looking for an innovative market where the government is innovative, where the government is swift to respond. And we didn’t see any other place to choose than Rwanda. And that’s just what we just saw and it is what we are doing.
What are the future projects in the pipeline?
So, the Alt School Africa is still a massive project because we are looking to train ten million Africans in the next eight years.
Is that possible?
Yes, that is possible and actually possible. From the month we launched, a lot of people indicated interest and signed up already. And that is a big mission and it is something that is getting us sleepless nights already. We have some other projects but for now. this is what we are focused on because it is a big deal for us and we are also having some interesting partnerships intertwined with this big project we are working on.