First launched in 2013, the AppFactory is an experiential space for young developers and ICT graduates to turn their ideas into reality. The main aim of the program is to equip the youth with hands-on software development experience and helps you gain critical skills to secure jobs, or start their own businesses.
AppFactory interns can spend up to six months working on real-world projects with senior software engineers. At the end of each internship, graduates will be able to fully design, implement and deploy cloud-enabled, mobile and IT solutions.
The first AppFactory launch was done in USIU in February and was the 14th AppFactory to be launched in Africa in Partnership with Microsoft. Alongside the Mawingu Networks plan to expand their investment in Nanyuki, the organisation also launched an AppFactory in partnership with Microsoft 4Afrika.
The AppFactory – or Apprenticeship Factory for Developers – will develop the digital skills, coding capabilities and employability of young graduates living in Nanyuki. After graduating from the programme, apprentices will have access to jobs, both at Mawingu Networks and within its network of small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs).
“The AppFactory will turn young people into highly competent, in-demand ICT professionals. Local companies, including ourselves, need more of this talent, especially in an increasingly digital world,” says Tim Hobbs, Director and CEO of Mawingu Networks.
“Through our WiFi hotspots, we have connected over 600 SMEs in and around Nanyuki to the internet. This has helped them to digitally transform and reach new markets. By now providing these SMEs with access to more local ICT professionals, we can support their transformation even further and help them enhance their offerings. As a start-up in a small town ourselves, we know how difficult and expensive it can be to hire the right talent, but sometimes that option is not even available to us and we end up having to outsource to other countries.”
This is the 16th AppFactory to launch in Africa, with others in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mauritius, Uganda and Rwanda. Other implementing partners include Ethiopian Airlines, the United States International University Africa, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ceridian and the Tulane International University Centre for Global Equity. In 2017, over 500 developers graduated from the Africa AppFactories, with 85% securing full-time jobs within three months of graduating.
“A lot of skills development programmes happen in and around big cities, benefitting largely urban youth,” says Lutz Ziob, Dean of the 4Afrika Academy. “By working with an innovative, local company in Nanyuki, we are demonstrating our commitment to extending the reach of opportunities to youth and small businesses across the country. This is in line with our global mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. It also supports Kenya’s 2030 vision, which aims to become a middle-income country and provide a higher quality of life to all its citizens.”
The AppFactory uses a franchise model, allowing for more rapid expansion and widespread reach. Implementing partners host the AppFactory and run the training, while Microsoft provides the relevant support, platforms and tools to successfully run the program.
Why the AppFactory is so important
- Improves youth employability by bridging the skills gap
- Develops in-demand skills that match digital job opportunities, and experience to apply for high-paying jobs.
- Transforms ICT graduates into software craftsmen, able to design and implement modern software solutions that drive digital transformation in Education, Government Services, Healthcare, Tourism, Finance, Environment and more.
- Accelerates ICT development and innovation in-country.
- Expands the talent pool for partners looking to digitally transform.
The Nanyuki AppFactory will be hosted next to Mawingu Network’s headquarters. The first round of apprentices are currently being selected, following an application process.