ConTech Africa; a new community that seeks to help African creatives launch tech careers

Dennis Da-ala Mirilla
ConTech Africa; a new community that seeks to help African creatives launch tech careers

After Daniel Orubo left his role at the helm of the millennial/gen-z-focused blog Zikoko, he made a deep plunge into the tech ecosystem as head of content at the savings company PiggyVest. His transition was easier than most. He had picked up a following during his time in media, so naturally, he thought content marketing would be his next life.

He was living that tech life; higher pay, working from home, the bloody faster and fancier computers, gym access if you’re lucky.

But he quickly realised that there are even more opportunities in tech that don’t involve planting ‘UI/UX designers at some bubbling startup’ on your Twitter bio. He realised, for instance, that you could introduce yourself as “head of product” instead at a cheezy meetup for people that work in tech.

And so late last year, he started ConTech Africa with Ope Adedeji, a colleague from his Zikoko days. ConTech Africa is a community for all creatives looking to break into the tech industry or already in tech and want to improve their skills but can’t code.

“Initially, when the idea came, the main focus was going to be content marketing because my co-founder and I have like content experience. But later we decided, you know what, let’s not just focus on content marketing,” Daniel Orubo told Technext in a recent interview.

Let’s focus on the non-coding areas, so with a specific focus on product marketing and design,”

The community has been growing fast. Almost 1500 members have joined ConTech Africa in the few months since its inception. Members try to lift each other up the ladder to tech heaven. They have shown up to hear Daniel Abayomi, a product designer at Meta, speak on starting non-coding tech careers, lined up to get need-based scholarships for online courses, and revamped their CVs, thanks to a partnership with CV Loft.

ConTech Africa; a new community that seeks to help creatives launch tech careers without learning how to code

Once, when a writer said they needed help with an article on the ConTech Slack channel, a bevvy of community members gathered around, bouncing ideas on how to make the story better.

“The benefit of a community should be that if I don’t understand something, I can ask and there is someone with a lot more experience that could answer me,” Daniel said.

Nimi Coker, who took a course on The Art of Brand Storytelling from a scholarship from ConTech Africa, said that “the course helped solidify some ideas I already had on marketing while shifting my perspective on marketing my company.”

She adds that “the resources, opportunities and network have exposed me to the possibilities available to me as a budding marketing manager.”

It’s not every day that a tech community like ConTech offers scholarships and sponsored training without the backing of some international fund. But at ConTech, the scholarships and CV revamps have been paid for by generous individuals who donate upwards of 100,000 Naira to the community.

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“People have been really generous,” Daniel said. “I’ve been kind of surpised at how giving people have been. I thought it would be a lot harder, but it’s really dawning on me that people want to help. I think if you’re in tech and you’ve found success unless you’re like trying to block the door so nobody else enters, you’ll want to give back,”

So far, Daniel said that ConTech has raised over three million Naira in donations and in kind, which they’ve used to pay for over 80 scholarships for beginner courses, 20 CV revamps, and a new website, among other things.

“We want to even start paying for the more expensive ones but we are kind of chilling because a single, like, really expensive course can pay for 100 beginner courses,” he said.

What’s next for ConTech

Though ConTech is currently a non-profit, Daniel and his co-founder, both newbies in the not-for-profit industry, hope it can become more self-sustaining.

“It will still be great for people to be able to drop donations, but I don’t want us to rely on that to be able to give back to our community,” he said. “I can see a system where we create a separate arm that will now link people to companies.”

Already the team is having conversations about charging companies that reach out to them to fill a vacancy. They are also working on creating products, including a salary report, because “we need that openness so people are getting what they deserve.”

ConTech is working on a more immersive mentorship program to see members paired with more established individuals in their new voyage into tech. It will include weekly meetups, advice sessions, training etc. “We think there is definitely more value in creating one on one systems,” Daniel said.

All this is available to members of ConTech as long as they are not “rude” to other members and are passionate enough not to “slack off.”

ConTech Africa; a new community seeks to help members launch non-coding tech careers
ConTech Africa’s co-founder Ope Adedeji

Though most of the community members of ConTech are Nigerians, Daniel said that the goal is to “reach further,” and broader across the continent. “We are still growing.

Daniel and his Ope Adedeji, his co-founder, are determined to keep the community going because they know first-hand what it’s like to work in tech. Even though he said that he found his job in media fulfilling, “working in tech is the most fulfilled I’ve felt,” Daniel confesses.

“I feel freer, I feel allowed to do other things. That is why I’m really passionate about talented people passionate about finding a footing,” he adds.

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