March 16, 2023 in United States, HeathTech

Project codeX: Bringing Coding Talent to Under-Resourced Communities

The global software skills shortage cannot be addressed by continuing to apply the high academic filters that reach only a sliver of the population. codeX makes software development skills accessible for inexperienced candidates, specifically high-potential youth from under-resourced communities. 

Project codeX, simply referred to as codeX, was founded in 2014 by Cara Turner and André Vermeulen, who both worked in the software industry for 15 years, gaining extensive knowledge of the software landscape. It was established as the first boot camp-type program in South Africa to provide an alternative way to train developers to meet the digital demand and create youth employment. Requiring only a high school certificate, the program truly addresses the low digital literacy levels in South Africa, tapping a significant proportion of youth previously excluded from the software industry.

“We had both directly experienced the impact of software talent shortages on software teams. Through different paths, we had individually formulated a clear vision for using the new agile software approach to create employment for people in under-resourced communities. These came together in codeX.” Cara Turner, CEO, Project codeX.

Over the years, codeX has developed into a unique program that takes new-to-tech talent (including those with weaker education backgrounds) from zero to advanced coders in two years.

Joining the Future of Work Africa 2022 Accelerator 

The startup joined the program at a point where they were ready to grow at scale, shares Cara Turner. “Our expertise is in our training rather than startup investing, so we wanted to understand the investment landscape before proceeding.  This program gave me so much more than I had imagined. I had anticipated building professional connections, but the level of sharing about our organisations’ origins and journeys made this a far more personal experience. Although we were working with people across the continent, the workshops felt as though we were all very close due to the collaborative learning approach. Seeing different approaches to each part of work sparked new ideas and created a much richer context from which to develop our thinking.

Creating the material for the Future of Work Africa program really stretched me and provided me with a new level of clarity in both the business modeling and the product offering. I have become more clear about how codeX fits into the tech and social impact landscapes in South Africa and ultimately Africa, and now see scaling as a much more urgent need.”

Program Takeaways

My biggest takeaway was the understanding that growth happens on many dimensions, and each of these can be tracked to understand and show progress. Investment-readiness ties to business maturity, and the Abaca solution provides a ‘map’ to navigate what had previously felt like murky waters.

While we don’t have investment-related achievements yet, we are proud to have:

  • Completed our 2022 foundation year with a machine learning hackathon
  • Developed an online “Discover Coding” interactive event to reach more new-to-tech candidates
  • Over 300 candidates are working on online courses as part of our applications process, and we are recruiting a business development manager to help us achieve our scale ambitions.

codeX is also in the early stages of discussions with an investor.

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