FNB recently hosted a trip for 2 hackathon-winning students from Africa’s first peer to peer coding education academy. Stephen Asiedu and Sizwe Mamba come from very different backgrounds but they have two things in common.
Firstly; as WeThinkCode students they beat 30,000 other hopefuls to make it through the rigorous assessments and secure a place in the first ever cohort of 120 students.
Secondly they were both sceptical of the promise of a free, 2 year tertiary qualification that would train them to be rock star software engineers with a promising career ahead.
Through the unique corporate sponsorship model at WeThinkCode and the founding support from FNB, Derivco and BBD, this promise is being delivered every day at the recently launched campus in the Johannesburg CBD.
Watch the video below to find out more about WeThinkCode and the support from FNB, Derivco and BBD
Why Join WeThinkCode
FNB’s partnership also gives the students access to a network of mentors to ensure they develop the confidence-building life skills in their journey through the programme and into the working world.
At the WeThinkCode launch in May, Stephen and Sizwe were announced as the winners of a recent hackathon, one of the many team-building and project based learning initiatives at the school. All the sponsors attended the launch to show support for this first in Africa education initiative that has democratised and demonetised coding education.
The disruptive model of WeThinkCode has been welcomed by traditional tertiary institutions and the corporates who rely on their graduates for fresh skills each year.
With 6m unemployed in South Africa and over 20,000 IT vacancies there is an urgent need for a new approach to software education to address the huge skills deficit.
Stretching the student teacher ratio is unsustainable and training up enough teachers is not happening quickly enough; the tech world is simply moving too fast. With no teachers or classrooms, WeThinkCode offers the scaleable, fully digitised model that is exponential in its thinking and just might achieve its massive transformative purpose.
Courtesy of FNB Business, these bright young hackathon winners were the lucky recipients of a trip to Cape Town to visit some of the hottest start-ups on the fintech landscape; Nichestream, Wigroup, Codex, Experience71 and BitX.
From blockchain to music streaming and mobile transacting, the feisty entrepreneurs behind each of these businesses are coming to work every day with the single-minded purpose of changing the world.
Software is at the heart of their quest and our student’s minds have been opened to the dream-fulfilling possibilities of learning to code; just another step in each of their incredible journeys.
Some of the start-ups we visited were finalists in the FNB Business Innovation Awards of 2016; Wigroup was the winner. Stephen Asiedu is from Ghana and originally wanted to be a pilot; after working in a cabin crew for 2 years he applied to study in Germany where all tertiary education is free.
A friend saw WeThinkCode on Facebook and Stephen attempted the online assessments; having never coded before he was doubtful but quickly realised he has a natural gift and flew through the tests and bootcamps.
Over lunch he told us about the visual rendering programme he is building as one of his projects and his interest in robotics which he hopes to take further as a professional developer one day.
Sizwe Mabasa comes from Boksburg and had already studied mechatronics at the FET but wanted togo deeper into the software engineering aspects.
Like Stephen he was sceptical of the promise of free education and kept his expectations as low as possible – today he is a true believer, his dream is coming true.
During the trip he talked to the owners and techies in these start-ups about his interest in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Seeing inside these dynamic businesses has been an incredible opportunity for both of the students; such valuable insights right at the beginning of their working lives will help them chart a course for career success.
Tour hosts Marcel Klaassen and Peter Alkema from FNB also showed them around the incredible new FNB offices at Portside in Cape Town; a truly magnificent building in a beautiful city.
The stark contrast between corporate size and small, early stage entrepreneurial premises was not lost on the students as they soaked up the impressive 360 degree views from the highest building in Cape Town.
Marcel reminded them that FirstRand (the holding company of FNB, RMB and Wesbank) was also a startup once; 3 visionary founding partners with just R10,000 in their pockets eventually built the largest financial services player on the African continent.
WeThinkCode; Changing the Education Landscape
Software is disrupting industries and changing people’s lives; these WeThinkCode students and the start-ups we visited are the drivers of this new world. FNB is passionate about creating ecosystems of partnerships and opportunities for entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams and create jobs; a crucial driver of inclusive economic growth.
Developing the skills that power these businesses is equally important and disruptive models like WeThinkCode are changing the education landscape in South Africa.
People like Stephen and Sizwe are the new generation of digital problem solvers, they are inspired by startups and empowered with free education; their chance to change the world is finally here.
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