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Andela currently selling off assets in preparation for remote working

Andela Currently Selling Off Assets In Preparation For Remote Working

By CIO East Africa  | Andela is smack-dab in the middle of a yard sale. Selling off property worth an estimated $3 million, the talent accelerator is currently undergoing massive changes. “As we are now a fully remote company, we have moved out of our physical leased offices in all locations. As a result, we are selling all associated physical assets, some of which have been sold off to employees and others to third-party companies,” declared Wambui Kinya, Vice President of Partnership Engineering. The goods are massively discounted and ranging from office furniture to creche equipment.

An invite to buy from the Global Operations team with a list of products for sale in a Google doc attachment read,

Hi there, 

You are invited to participate in Andela Nairobi Yardsale via our Sell-It Website, which will begin on the 26th of June at 12 noon till 2300hrs on the 28th of June. Items up for sale include some basic work tools e.g. ergonomic chairs, work tabletops, laptops, amongst others. Please see a detailed list of items up for sale here.

We strongly encourage you to take advantage of this clearance sale because the majority of the items have been heavily discounted with a specific objective in mind – To aid in-home office set-up for Andelans as we are now fully remote.

To participate, kindly log on to the Sell-It Website using your Andela email address, for Alumni and Interested Third Parties use your personal Gmail address. Please note the website accommodates only GMAIL accounts.

Please go through the yard sale guidelines, terms and conditions and FAQs before the sale commences.

Best regards,

Global Operations Team

It proceeded to issue details of the sale and an mpesa number for that purpose. “We are selling physical assets, bought by Andela for our physical office. These are items you’d typically find in an office space such as chairs, laptops, desks etc,” confirmed Wambui.

Founded six years ago in May 2014, Andela is headquartered in New York City by a group of co-foundersJeremy Johnson (CEO), Christina Sass (COO & President), Iyinoluwa Aboyeji (Recruitment Director), Nadayar Enegesi (Director of Learning), Brice Nkengsa (Director of Technology) and Ian Carnevale (Advisor). Their goal; beat the worldwide shortage of developers. This saw them move into Lagos – Nigeria, Nairobi – Kenya, Accra – Ghana, Kampala – Uganda, Cairo – Egypt and Kigali – Rwanda (2018). LinkedIn lists them as having 1,666 employees. In 2017, following a series of funding, Andela earned itself the reputation as one of “the most highly funded African companies not based in Africa.”

In May 2020, Jeremy co-founder CEO, announced in his Medium page that the company would be downsizing, citing remote working and the shifting sands of time as the reason for scaling down. “This week, we announced that we are laying off 135 Andela employees, or approximately 10% of the company. While I know that nearly every company is being impacted by COVID-19 in some way, it doesn’t make it hurt any less. We took every measure possible to try to avoid this decision, but ultimately it was necessary to secure the future of Andela.”

This is not the first time Andela has surprised the tech world with retrenchment. In September 2019 they overhauled their outsourcing model, again in Africa, mainly in Nigeria with Kenya being impacted, by letting go of some 400 developers. At the time, it was said the US market was overly saturated with developers. America is Andela’s biggest market and with the rise of engineer training modules and schools, there was a massive flux of junior engineers in the market. It skewed the market in favour of more senior talent. Andela was also enjoying $50 million in revenue.

When asked whether the rumours are true that Andela is exiting Africa permanently and thus closing shop from a continent where they have invested enormously in, and successfully created a developer ecosystem, Wambui responded that, “No. We are not leaving Kenya or Africa. We will continue to build a network of engineers based across the continent, and connect them with opportunities with our customers around the world.”

The move has seen the company retrench even more staff. “In early May, we announced the departure of 135 Andela employees (representing 10 per cent of our workforce) located in Africa and the United States, except Rwanda and Ghana, said Wavinya.

As to whether there will be further retrenchment that may or may not be related to covid19, Wambui noted that, “Similar to so many other technology companies around the world, we are not immune to the challenges of COVID-19, and the current global economic market requires us to conserve resources. To navigate the current environment, we have taken some pretty significant measures, including implementing a three-month hiring freeze and re-evaluating all consulting and software spend.”

A most prolific retrenchee has been Janet Maingi, Andela Kenya Country Director for just a little over a year. “As we have transitioned from country-specific operations to a centralised operations model and team, we will no longer have Country Directors in each country, including Kenya. We will, however, continue to have Directors for each of our registered entities,” states the new head of the Kenya office, Wambui. She has been with Andela as VP for over two years from February 2018 to date. (Janet Maingi was not available to comment on this story.)

When asked if Andela will eventually shut down not just in East Africa, but Africa as a whole, she reiterates Jeremy’s response on their operational shift by recapturing his and the co-founders vision for Africa. “Moving to remote-first aligns with our longer-term roadmap to connect talent to opportunity and the current global pandemic has accelerated this process. We have seen our physical offices at times constrain our ability to connect talent to opportunities and have proven we can work effectively as a remote organization. By operating all remote, we will be able to accept engineer applications from all over Africa.”

By Carol Odero of CIO East Africa

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