The East African tech industry is growing at an unprecedented rate, showing no signs of slowing down. From Kenya to Ethiopia, startups across the region are transforming their respective industries and changing lives. But despite this impressive growth, there’s one major challenge that many companies are facing – a shortage of skilled developers.
According to 2021 research by Google, there are about 716,000 developers across Africa. With over 50%of them based in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. Even though this accounts for a 3.8% increase from the previous years, Africa’s developer pool is still a far cry from that of the US, Europe, or Asia. Hence, the need for more tech talents in the region.
To address this challenge, two Ethiopian entrepreneurs, Amadou Daffe and Hiruy Amanuel, came together in 2016 to cofound a tech startup – Gebeya. Gebeya was established to train more developers and provide a marketplace between pre-vetted tech talents and African companies. Think Andela, but in Addis Ababa.
True to its meaning (Marketplace) in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language, Gebeya sees itself as a talent infrastructure company building a pipeline of tech talents in East Africa. The company has since expanded its services to other African and Foreign countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom.
The company’s impact is palpable and far-reaching, manifested in its mission to produce a new generation of skilled and pre-vetted developers eager to tackle the industry’s challenges. This new generation of developers is ushering in fresh ideas, innovation, and creativity, helping the industry attain greater heights.
Gebeya, however, isn’t just an ordinary tech marketplace. In 2018, the startup acquired Coders4Africa (C4A), a software and consulting company based in the United States, as part of its growth acceleration strategy and to expand its developer talent pool. Daffe also co-founded C4A but exited in 2015 to focus on Gebeya.
In Q4 of 2022, Amadou Daffe, Gebeya’s co-founder, was also listed among the top ten finalists for the Africa Business Heroes with over 21,000 applicants. This shows the company’s passion for excellence and innovative creativity in the industry.
Gebeya currently plans to support 100 existing tech marketplaces in East Africa by building the Marketplace-as-a-Service model. This innovative approach allows companies to easily access high-quality developers and technical talent without the burden of recruitment and management.
In this regard, the company offers three suites of services tailored to the needs of its audience. There’s G-Talent—designed to help recruit tech talents for both short-term and long-term projects. Followed by G-Staffing, the optimal solution for sourcing full-time permanent hires. And G-made, the suite for hiring tech talent for mile-stone-based gigs and projects.
Gebeya’s remuneration model is based solely on the talent’s determination of their compensation, as the company has no influence on this aspect. Gebeya earns a 15% commission each month on the fees charged by these skilled professionals. This model proved highly successful, as evidenced by the startup’s revenue exceeding a million dollars in 2018.
Building the Marketplace-as-a-Service model
Gebeya’s mission to empower and grow East Africa’s digital economy is hinged on developing a sustainable and scalable talent ecosystem that meets the demands of the tech industry.
In January, the talent marketplace secured an undisclosed Pre Series A funding, signaling its transition from a conventional two-sided tech talent marketplace to a provider of marketplaces under the “Marketplace-as-a-Service” model.
According to Amadou Daffe, co-founder and CEO of Gebeya, “We are not establishing the marketplaces, but providing support for existing marketplaces to thrive. We are not building these marketplaces from scratch, but rather, finding already existing marketplaces with solid entrepreneurs behind them, and supporting them.”
“Access to funding is a major challenge entrepreneurs face in East Africa. However, Gebeya plans to reinvest funds in 100 East African marketplaces and intends to extend its technical support to assist 1000 marketplace entrepreneurs across Africa in the next few years to scale up the African gig economy.” Daffe added.
Gebeya has already begun executing this initiative to achieve this goal, forging partnerships and offering marketplace-as-a-service to Lifeline Addis Home-based Healthcare, Eshi Express, Utentic, and YeneHealth, among other pioneer marketplaces.
This initiative is part of the company’s $48 million partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, tagged Mesirat (which means “to work” in Amharic). This innovative five-year program aims to equip 100 entrepreneurs in East Africa with multi-sided gig marketplaces, allowing them to create jobs and generate sustainable income while contributing to the country’s economic growth.
Additionally, the partnership will equip two million young people with market-facing skills and provide one million (70% women) with employment opportunities.
According to Bernard Laurendeau, the Managing Partner at Laurendeau & Associates and a Mesirat partner, the gig economy can potentially diffuse the ‘ticking time bomb’ of creating close to 8,000 jobs every business day in the Ethiopian economy.
Gebeya’s plan to support existing East African marketplaces is an excellent initiative. By bridging the talent gap in the tech industry and equipping entrepreneurs with the skills they need to thrive, Gebeya is helping to create jobs and grow Africa’s economy.