Arlene Mulder was an RMB investment banker for 7 years, until her free thinking, socially minded, entrepreneurial self surfaced. She then went on to produce the idea for a tech company that breaks all of the education sector’s rules – and solves one of its most significant problems.
Today the educational tech business that she co-founded after leaving RMB, is two years old, employs 13 people and has a R20 million turnover. What’s more, the vision for her company wethinkcode_ – to train 100 000 world class African coders in the next 20 years – is well on its way.
Wethinkcode_ is fundamentally a peer to peer learning environment with no teachers or tutored classes, and zero tuition fees. What the students are given however, are real life projects. Intriguingly, the French company Ecol24, on which wethinkcode_ is modelled, states that “We don’t teach the students anything, but they learn everything.”
The barrier to entry of this coding institution also deviates significantly from the educational norm – it’s what Mulder fondly and repeatedly calls ‘democratised access to opportunity and training’. Candidates don’t need matric nor any other diploma’s, and only have to pass an accessible aptitude test to be invited. Plus, the students are 100% sponsored by corporates.
So how does the system work? How was the business model created? How did Mulder and her partner come up with an idea where their customers are corporates who can afford to pay them upfront, delivering cash flow that most businesses only dream of?
In this Quick Insight video extracted from a full length interview, Mulder explains, and discusses the sustainability of the wethinkcode_ model.
South Africa Today – South Africa Economy