Wethinkcode and FNB: #feeshavefallen

The first peer to peer tertiary IT education academy in Africa was launched last night in downtown Johannesburg; it was a celebration of talent, partnership and possibility.

The launch was held in one of the oldest, traditional banking halls of 1940’s Johannesburg, now converted to a world class venue. The colonialist architecture of 87 Commissioner Street was from the gold-rush era but last night’s party was all about the golden future of 120 amazing young coders. Whittled down from 30,000 online applicants, they now embark on 2 years free coding education made possible by the visionary founders and their corporate sponsors. [paragraph 1 of 5]

The big picture of this highly scaleable model is to train a 100,000 coders in Africa and literally change computer training for anyone, from any background. This is an urgent, nation-building quest; there are 7m unemployed in South Africa, IT skills demand far out-strips supply, and the vast majority simply have no means to pay for such education. A number of universities in South Africa closed last year due to violent protests about fee increases; no one will ever forget the dramatic #feesmustfall movement which marked a turning point in our tertiary education. [2/5]

Highly motivated and hard working entrepreneurs are usually at the forefront of such change and Wethinkcode founders Arlene, Camille, Yossi and Justinus are no exception. Their brainchild is the localisation of the“42” school in Paris; a self-learning, high-tech model that is already revolutionising the French IT industry. Anyone can apply but the tough online tests and stringent bootcamps ensure that only the best minds make it through; the next Mark Zuckerburg could literally come from one of Johannesburg’s poorest townships. [3/5]

As a co-founding sponsor, FNB is an actively involved partner and has already provided strategic support to Wethinkcode through its Business and Investment Banking divisions. Voted the Best Business Bank 3 years in a row FNB has created an ecosystem of products, services, value-adds and competitive relationship banking that is built on highly innovative IT platforms. Wethinkcode boosts this ecosystem with a non-traditional source of fintech skills and cutting edge software development capacity. [4/5]

The 120 students start their 2 year training next week; it’s a steep learning curve ahead and a life-changing experience – some students have literally come off the streets. FNB assists with experienced mentors and life skills training for these #borntocode students; we are passionate about grounding them for a successful working life. There’s also lots of fun; FNB will be hosting the winners of the 3rd bootcamp hackathon on a trip to Cape Town where they will tour some of the top start-up IT firms and incubators – the future of coding and banking has never looked brighter! [5/5]

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