An interesting heuristic you can think about when considering companies operating in East Africa is where the demand comes from.
There are lots of businesses you can see where the product or service is developed in the region and ultimately is consumed in East Africa.
Whilst there is certainly a strategy in serving the growing local market, there is certainly a limitation on its size.
There’s a whole different set of companies, operating from East Africa but whose end customer is outside the region.
Caspar Coding is one of them.
They work with European clients to place East African senior software developers directly in their teams.
It’s one area where there’s a huge imbalance. In Western Europe alone there are 5 million openings for senior software developer jobs and lacks the supply of local talent to fill them.
Caspar started off solving this with developers working remotely but now relocate ambitious developers directly to the European country.
Sebastiaan, the CEO, is Dutch and so the early clients have been from there.
This is a really great episode that touches on various themes in the region, such as demographics, finding product-market fit, and ultimately the power of gaining a modern skillset to grow your career.
Without any further ado, I give you Sebastiaan Tan.
Dutch digital nomad
Did marketing automation for a FinTech company, then built a startup called [Tempr] until he lost interest/ challenge.
What struck me about Kenya?
1. Demographics: so many young people
2. English: everyone speaks it
3. Time difference: very similar to Europe
The company has evolved
Started off as building remote teams for tech teams, however, pivoted into relocating developers directly into relocating experienced developers directly into European tech teams.
NGOs train people in tech
Caspar doesn’t focus on generating the skills (there are enough doing that). Instead, it’s about connecting experienced developers with end roles.
Working remotely didn’t work out
Experienced developers were used to working remotely. They were often tasked with bug fixing/ testing which was further from the cutting edge of innovation that they could do. There were also instances of developers being oversold.
Focus group is mid-20s
Not people with families. Instead, those who have a couple of years experience but are at the limits of what Nairobi can offer.
Incentivize people to return
The idea is that with experience, people will then return with more knowledge to start their own work back in Kenya. The finder’s fee for the placing a developer would become the seed funding for their idea.
Who is the buyer?
Remote teams: CTO/ co-founder. Relocation: still figuring it out!
Caspar represents the developer community
There’s a huge demand for senior software developers, but Europe can’t supply it. Caspar helps with unlocking this pool of talent in East Africa.
Why is it called Caspar Coding?
The name of the brother of my co-founder. It was originally InterCode but there’s a company in Kenya called that already.
Corporates are into outsourcing already
The tech teams often work with firms in India etc. Though they’re struggling to compete with innovate startups taking a more agile approach.
Adopting the Spotify agile approach
Caspar’s client (ING Bank) is adopting a more modern approach. More information here https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/ings-agile-transformation
A Dutch candy is our secret weapon
Stroopwafels. “Would you like to come to the land of this candy?”
Remote work? Experienced developers have more growth opportunities from relocating to the Netherlands.
Western Europe has 5 million job openings for senior software developers. We have to think about where this is going to come from.