A successful launch for The Sourcery Academy in The Gambia

Building the future generation of tech specialists in The Gambia

Summer 2021 marked the launch of The Sourcery Academy for Developers in The Gambia. Raymond King, Global Head of Sales at Devbridge, was born and raised in The Gambia and spearheaded the initiative in partnership with Hassan Jallow, founder and CEO of Assutech.

The Gambia and neighboring sub-Saharan West African nations have the ideal geographical location and population mix to become a global engineering hub for companies in North America, UK, and Western Europe. I am hopeful that programs like The Sourcery Academy become the kindling that enables this possibility.

- Raymond King, Global Head of Sales at Devbridge

Sourcery students with Raymond King

While King held weekly office hours with the students, offering career guidance,
Jallow and the Assutech team facilitated the program and mentored students, providing a safe space with reliable internet and electricity to attend weekly lectures, do homework, and practice concepts.

I'm very thrilled by this project. It’s a great initiative that will help Gambian university students tremendously by giving them the opportunity to learn from a top-class organization like Devbridge. I wish I had access to this when I was back in school.”

- Hassan Jallow, Founder and CEO of Assutech

Sourcery students

Three means to monitor success

As a pilot program, we set three high-level objectives with KPIs to validate the need and success of the program.

1. Generate interest for a software development bootcamp.

The KPI: Receive 50 applications from university-level students, targeting those in their second or third year from the country’s two major universities, The University of the Gambia (UTG) and American International University - West Africa (AIU).

The results: Within one week of opening the application, we received close to 140 applications (3x of target). The majority of applicants were male from both UTG and AIU, with nine women (6% of applicants).

2. Meet benchmarks for applicants taking and passing the entrance exam.

The KPI: We opted to limit attendance to the top 10 students so that mentors and lecturers could focus time on making each of them successful. To effectively refine the list of applicants, we held entrance exams, testing students on their understanding of object-oriented programming, JavaScript, C# (.Net), and overall logic. We anticipated roughly 40% or 50 applicants to participate.

The results: 40 students (30% of applicants) took the entrance exam, with only two of the nine females attending. While below the benchmark, the outcome shows promise, enlisting top ten scoring applicants successfully.

3. Provide students a solid foundation for a career in IT.

The KPI: We monitored consistent attendance, motivation, and retention coupled with lecture performance and efficacy. To graduate, students must pass a post-course assessment and demonstrate working software. In addition, we set a goal for a minimum of four students to receive offers to intern at tech companies.

The results: Students arrived early for sessions and often stayed at least one hour after to review learnings. All ten students graduated from the program and are being offered internships at Gambia-based tech organizations.

I am not surprised by the level of commitment by these students. If you provide meaningful opportunities to us here in The Gambia, we will go after them. I hope this demonstrates that we need real opportunities.

- Hassan Jallow, Founder and CEO of Assutech

Placing nine of the graduates in a 3-month paid internship program with Gambia-based technology organizations serves as a true indication of success. Furthermore, one student, Jamba Ceesay, a fourth-year student at University of The Gambia was offered a full-time position as a junior front-end software Developer at Assutech. Having attended the academy, Cessay gained critical knowledge of React and .Net.

Jamba Cessay

I am so happy. The academy really paved the way for me, and I will never forget that. The team helped me achieve my dream. I am so excited.

– Jamba Ceesay, Academy Graduate and Front-End Developer at Assutech

What’s next for The Sourcery Academy in The Gambia?

While the program overall was a success, there’s always room for improvement. A top goal is to attract and retain more female applicants and students to the academy. With limited availability of working computers, we will look for opportunities to provide future students with the proper equipment to use during the program. As part of our goal to seek mastery, we will level up the training to include both the technical and team collaboration skills required for a developer to collaborate effectively with a product team using the lean software delivery methodology.

Having completed this pilot program, I am encouraged by the results and the impact it is having on these young people, validating the excellence of the Sourcery training program and proving that graduates can upskill no matter where they’re located.

- Raymond King, Global Head of Sales at Devbridge

We plan to run another program in Spring 2022 where we can apply the learnings from the pilot and further the journey of creating technologists in the Gambia.

About the pilot program in The Gambia

The Sourcery Academy is a non-profit educational program run by Devbridge and industry veterans to educate kids, college students, and professionals on product management, product design, and software development. The Sourcery for Developers program is designed to teach students the technical skillset required to become a developer as well as the practical skills needed to collaborate in a product team (using our proven software delivery methodology). Leveraging the 12-week curriculum crafted by Devbridge’s developers, we partnered with Assutech, a Gambian-based software services firm, to facilitate the program and provide day-to-day mentoring for the students. The pilot proved a success, with internship opportunities for all 10 students, including one full-time job offer.

Meet Ieva, an alumnus of the Academy for Testers

Meet Ieva, an alumnus of the Academy for Testers

Graduate story