East Africa’s tech industry is witnessing unprecedented growth, with startups across the region revolutionizing their respective sectors. Yet, a significant challenge remains – a shortage of skilled developers. Recognizing this, Ethiopian entrepreneurs Amadou Daffe and Hiruy Amanuel founded Gebeya in 2016, aiming to train and connect pre-vetted tech talents with African companies. Think Andela, but in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Recent Google research reveals that Africa houses approximately 716,000 developers, with over half based in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. Despite a 3.8% increase from previous years, the continent’s developer pool lags behind those in the US, Europe, and Asia.
Gebeya, meaning ‘marketplace’ in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language, has been instrumental in bridging this gap. The company, originally based in Ethiopia, has broadened its footprint, extending services to Kenya, Nigeria, the UK, and beyond. Gebeya’s influence is significant, striving to foster a new generation of skilled developers ready to meet the industry’s demands.
“We’re more than just a marketplace,” explains Amadou Daffe, co-founder and CEO of Gebeya. “Our mission is to empower East Africa’s digital economy by developing a sustainable and scalable talent ecosystem.”
In 2018, Gebeya acquired Coders4Africa (C4A), a US-based software and consulting firm, expanding its talent pool. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Daffe was listed among the top ten finalists for Africa Business Heroes, showcasing the company’s commitment to excellence and innovation.
Gebeya now plans to support 100 existing tech marketplaces in East Africa through its innovative Marketplace-as-a-Service model. This initiative allows companies to access high-quality developers without the burden of recruitment and management. It offers three service suites: G-Talent for recruiting tech talents, G-Staffing for sourcing full-time hires, and G-Made for hiring talent for project-based work.
In January, Gebeya secured undisclosed Pre Series A funding, marking its transition from a conventional two-sided tech talent marketplace to a provider of marketplaces under the “Marketplace-as-a-Service” model.
According to Amadou Daffe, co-founder and CEO of Gebeya: “We are not establishing the marketplaces, but providing support for existing marketplaces to thrive. We are not building these marketplaces from scratch, but rather, finding already existing marketplaces with solid entrepreneurs behind them, and supporting them.”
“Access to funding is a major challenge entrepreneurs face in East Africa. However, Gebeya plans to reinvest funds in 100 East African marketplaces and intends to extend its technical support to assist 1000 marketplace entrepreneurs across Africa in the next few years to scale up the African gig economy,” Daffe added.
Gebeya has already begun executing this initiative to achieve this goal, forging partnerships and offering marketplace-as-a-service to Lifeline Addis Home-based Healthcare, Eshi Express, Utentic, and YeneHealth, among other pioneer marketplaces.
This initiative, part of Gebeya’s $48 million partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, tagged Mesirat, —which means “to work” in Amharic; aims to equip 100 entrepreneurs in East Africa with multi-sided gig marketplaces. It also seeks to provide two million young people with market-facing skills and offer one million (70% women) employment opportunities.
“In Ethiopia, the economy needs to create close to eight thousand jobs every business day,” according to Bernard Laurendeau, Managing Partner at Laurendeau & Associates, a Mesirat partner. “It is a ticking time bomb that the gig economy can defuse; the diffusion starts today with the Mesirat program.”
Gebeya’s plan to support existing East African marketplaces is an excellent initiative. By bridging the talent gap in the tech industry and equipping entrepreneurs with the skills they need to thrive, Gebeya is helping to create jobs and grow Africa’s economy.