Student turns computer skills into lucrative income earner

Programmer Brian Osoro, who has developed
Programmer Brian Osoro, who has developed various apps including the Kenya Constitution android app, which has had 40,000 downloads since it was uploaded on Google Play six months ago, during the interview in Nairobi last month. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA  

Brian Osoro is not your typical college student; he spends most of his time either programming or going through tutorials to sharpen his IT skills. His classmates know him as a kind, calm computer geek who only speaks when necessary.
He enjoys staying indoors and rarely will you find him idling — his laptop always keeps him busy. Mr Osoro’s passion for computing has seen him do side jobs while studying for an Informatics degree at Strathmore University.
At 22, he has mastered computer programming skills which keep attracting new contracts every so often. Last year, for instance, Mr Osoro developed a ticketing management system for Pride Tanzania, a financial organisation that offers loans to SMEs and saccos.

He is also the man behind the Bale Loyalty card which allows frequent users of select clubs and restaurants in Kenya to earn points. Holders of the loyalty card, which uses Near Field Technology (NFC), can redeem the points for a free taxi ride home to places as far as Kinoo, Kiambu and Athi River.

Mr Osoro is in the process of developing an application for a leading local car dealer who plans to launch a fleet of taxis to ply Nairobi routes. The app will enable managers to keep an eye on operations, including movements of their cars. Additionally, it will enable clients to call for a taxi.

“Clients will only need to tap the app to alert the nearest taxi instead of the traditional lengthy process of calling the company office to make a booking,” Mr Osoro told Digital Business.

“It is convenient for clients and also eases management for the taxi company.”


Immense changes

Mr Osoro said he earns about Sh200,000 for less taxing jobs like making an app. However, if the clients’ needs are more demanding and complex, his rates can go up to Sh500,000.

His interest in programming was inspired by the fact that technology can bring about immense changes to society.

In most cases, problems encountered by individuals and companies inspire his creations. For instance, the full time fourth year student has created a personal app that reminds him when a lesson, a group discussion or an assignment is due.

“The inspiration behind the app was to enable me to stay on track with my class and school events since, being an indoors person, I used to miss lessons and other school activities.”

He also developed the Kenya Constitution App to help a friend who was studying law to make references easily without having to go through tonnes of pages of written resources.

The free Android app, which is in the public domain, has more than 40,000 downloads since he uploaded it in June 2014 — something he considers a great achievement in just six months.

Mr Osoro said that the Kenya Constitution App is intuitive, adding that users do not require specialised training to begin using it. “Its segmentation is simple and helps people to navigate easily,” he said, adding that he plans to make a Windows version of the application to reach more users.

Mr Osoro said that making public information available to people is part of his community social responsibility as a programmer and this is why he is offering the app for free.

“This is the least I can do for people who need to make reference to the Constitution.

It is also a way of promoting mass education to keep people informed of their rights and responsibilities as citizens,” he said.

Having mastered the skills in programming, it takes Mr Osoro about a week to come up with a fully-functioning new app. However, he is quick to add that more tasking contracts can last for a few more days. It took him a week to make the Kenyan Constitution app.

“Programming is what I do all the time and the more I do it the easier it gets. When I start a project I can go on for more than 24 hours without stopping. I prefer working at night when it is peaceful.“

Now in his final semester, Mr Osoro said he has no ambitions of looking for a job and intends to continue taking on programming contracts for companies and individuals.