Tunisian edtech startup GOMYCODE raises $8M to expand in Africa and the Middle East

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Yahya Buhel started programming in his early teens. During this time, he interned at several companies in Palo Alto, California. Most of his work has been related to the creation of applications and games for the iPhone.

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When he returned home to Tunisia, he met many students who every summer wanted to create products like him. And it was in this summer of 2017 that he got the concept HOMYCODE.

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After graduating in France and working for a year at Amazon in London, Amin Buel, Yahya’s older brother, returned to Tunisia. His new job was to open a subsidiary for a French open source tech startup, which required hiring local developers. Finding significant numbers in Tunisia, however, has not been easy.

“At that time I had just finished school and had a free summer. Amin has struggled to find more senior web developers,” CEO Yahya Buhel told TechCrunch. “So the idea came up to build a Silicon Valley inspired school or learning center, and we launched GOMYCODE as a summer project and camp, and this year we expanded.” Amin, the company’s chief operating officer, served as commercial director of Jumia Tunisia from 2018 to 2021.

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Launched in 2017, edtech announces today the closing of an $8 million Series A round. At this stage, this is the largest round on the continent (with the exception of Andela, if it is not considered an educational technology). AfricInvest, through its innovation fund Cathay AfricInvest (CAIF) and French financial institution Proparco, led the early growth round.

Thus, the total amount of funding for GOMYCODE reached $8.85 million. In October 2020, it raised $850,000 in seed funding. One of his seed round investors, Wamda Capital, doubled this new funding.

In addition to Tunisia, GOMYCODE is present in Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Nigeria. The startup hopes Series A funding will boost its presence in 12 countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Saudi Arabia. It also plans to expand its presence in existing countries, especially in Egypt and Nigeria.

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By 2030, the number of young people – people aged 15 to 24 – in Africa is projected to increase by 42%, according to the UN. One of the most pressing challenges the continent is currently facing – and will be addressed – is to improve the skills of these people in a region where unemployment rates are as high as 30% in some countries.

Even though there are different jobs in every aspect of life, technical professions are currently in high demand in the global economy. As such, most venture capital-backed startups are built around upgrading students and professionals in software development and typically technical skills. In Africa, some of these include the unicorn. Andela, Alternative schoolHebea, decagon, semicolon and others. They only work with online models or hybrid models (combination of offline and online settings).

GOMYCODE uses the latter. It offers over 30 areas of study ranging from web development to digital marketing and data science and artificial intelligence. Students must spend 50% of their time studying online and the other half at one of the GOMYCODE network of 20 physical centers. Buchel says the company has more than 500 local teachers in every country and teach students more than 12 languages.

“We are meeting demand that almost no other company can meet at our scale,” said the chief executive. “Local traditional learning centers offer outdated content and methodology, and international online players struggle to recruit African students due to a lack of understanding of local markets and unaffordable prices. We have a mixed model of education, we teach in twelve local languages ​​and position ourselves as a regional leader.”

Students on the platform go through two types of programs. One section consists of introductory skills development courses that last up to 3 months and cost an average of $250. The other section includes a 5-month career-focused training with an average price of $750.

GOMYCODE says it partners with various institutions to accommodate its students. He claims to have successfully placed 80% of his students through an employment program. On the other hand, it also works with business clients who use the training plan now and pay later for their employees. This model generates only 10% of GOMYCODE’s revenues (the company’s total revenues have grown 3 times every year since its inception).

“There are many influential and mass players. We target a wide range of students. So our courses are not just for graduates or professionals or people from a certain social class,” he said. “GOMYCODE’s programs target mass markets and our blended model makes us accessible and accessible in a way you don’t often see.”

The edtech platform has grown from 100 students in its first year to around 4,000 active students today. About 55% of its students come from Tunisia, with the rest distributed among seven other countries. With this new investment, GOMYCODE is going full blitzscale and hopes to reach 100,000 students and open 50 centers in Africa and the Middle East within the next 2 years. More than 1,000 students are already enrolling in one of the 30 courses each month, the company says.

Meanwhile, Khaled Ben Jilani, senior partner at lead investor AfricInvest, believes the education technology market in Africa is untapped and solutions like GOMYCODE “will have a huge positive impact on everyone in the technology and education ecosystem.”

Credit: techcrunch.com /

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