Nigerian IT Company, Decagon, was founded in 2018 by Chika Nwobi. Decagon was founded to train and connect software engineers to remote work opportunities with local and international companies. Decagon has raised $1.5 million in a seed round to support its mission of transforming these exceptional software engineers, many of whom come from underrepresented backgrounds. The tech company also plans to match them with their dream jobs and funding.
Kepple Africa and Timon Capital couldn’t be left out of Decagon’s success story, they both led the funding round. With investments from Paul Kokoricha — ACA Managing Partner — and Tokyo-based UNITED Inc. Other financiers that have signed partnerships and eased the possibility of raising an additional $25 million student loan financing facility are Sterling Bank, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Timon Capital Partner, Chris Muscarella in a statement while reacting to this partnership said “We’re thrilled to work with Decagon to build up the top 0.5% of vetted engineering talent in Africa and help connect them to global tech opportunities. The frequency of engineering leaders from US and European companies in our network ask about sourcing African and Nigerian technical talent has increased at a rapid clip, and we’re excited to lean into that and help Decagon on their mission,”
The startup claims to operate as an intersection of edtech, fintech, and the future of work. It specializes in software and mobile application development, website creation, UX design, and product marketing. Decagon CEO, Chika Nwobi in a statement said, “Tech giants like Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have established engineering offices in Nigeria, Decagon helps companies unable to afford such offices to reach top talent willing to work as remote engineers.” This is possible through the six-month paid software engineering program that costs $4,000 facilitated by the tech company.
However, for trainees who for one reason or the other cannot afford the program, such training can opt for a student loan financing to cover the cost. Such students are expected to repay approximately $6,000 over three year’s tenor. In addition, the Pay-After-Learning plan also caters for laptops, housing, Internet, meal allowance, and a stipend. According to the company, this requires no upfront payment and will be the first in Nigeria to provide students with such merit-based loan advantages. Obinna Ukachukwu, Divisional Head, Sterling Bank while making comments about student Loan Financing said, “We got involved to support alternative education by providing loans for Nigerian students complemented with financial literacy training. Based on the excellent performance of the current portfolio, it made sense to scale our support to Decagon”
Nwobi stated that the company has a 100% placement rate for its trainees, a 100% loan repayment rate, and a 410% salary increment made by its software engineers after placement. He restated the company’s plans to continue to address the global underrepresentation of black people in the tech space, starting with Nigeria. Decagon claims it has accepted 440 candidates from a pool of 80,000 applicants for its program. The IT Company currently boasts of female inclusion at 25% but plans to increase to 50% in the next three years.
For over a decade, Nigeria has witnessed several startups contribute to nation-building by nurturing beginners who eventually become exceptional in their fields within the tech space. Several years on, these startups are now household names and have significantly scaled to new heights. But still, the dare need for top talent continues to be evident in Nigeria, and this means there is more need for venture capitals to raise startups now more than ever.