Zuckerberg-backed firm Andela explains move to lay off 170 Kenyan developers

Michael Zuckerberg-backed technology firm, Andela has attributed its decision to lay off of an approximated 420 junior engineers across Africa to high demand for more experienced developers.

Speaking to Metropol TV, Jane Maingi, Andela Kenya Country Director at Andela said the company made the decision in response to the growing demand for high-quality engineering as a service in the market.

The firm plans to lay off 170 young Kenyan developers, who have been working with the company since its inception in 2014.

“We reached an inflection point that called for tough staffing decisions. Due to market demand for a different mix of engineering talent than what we currently provide, we’re making a strategic shift to focus on a more balanced distribution of engineers at different experience levels.” said Maingi.

She said Andela will hire more than 700 senior developers by the end of next year, adding that the firm will continue to pilot its operation within the region with the remaining 300 juniors after the restructuring exercise.

“We are currently hiring, We began hiring more experienced engineers as far back as in 2016. Earlier this year, we launched our Power of “X” campaign, to concentrate our efforts around hiring experienced talent.

However, the firm has committed to supporting the transition of the affected talent through its partnership of local innovation hubs among them Kenya’s iHub with view to connect impacted developers with future opportunities.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve implemented dozens of strategies, but our average time to place a junior developer is increasing, in many cases up to one or two years; this is a poor experience for the engineer on the bench and is also unsustainable as a business. We will still have over 300 junior engineers with us after the restructure, and we intend to continue placing them with our partners.”

When asked if the juniors were unproductive in their endeavors Ms. Maingi denied this saying, “No, this decision is not a reflection of their work or capabilities. Since Andela launched in 2014, we have seen a significant decrease in the market demand for remote junior developers. Prior to our restructure, we had over 500 engineers on the bench, who we did not believe we would be able to place for extended periods of time”

Andela is an incubation firm backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), the personal foundation of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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