Bernard Mulobi was a fisherman before he became interested in smartphone apps. He enrolled for an information technology course and after university, he joined Andela Kenya, a company that develops software for mostly international retail chains.
Now he works with other developers in Andela offices in California, Nigeria and New York to provide solutions for commercial transactions at the retail chain.
“We report to work at 5pm which is 9am in the US when stores open,” he says.
Mr Mulobi is part of 500 employees in Andela Kenya, an office that started with five workers.
The company recruits people with a background in IT and others just armed with passion to learn. They are then trained in coding before they are hired as software developers.
“The demand for software developers is growing rapidly as the Internet of Things era (IoT) is here to stay. IoT eases costs for operation, effects faster processing and eliminates use of papers that must be delivered to a parcel company for onward transmission to an office,” he says.
Caroline Wanjiku is another developer at Andela. She studied medical laboratory but later developed a passion for IT.
“I love engineering because it lacks bureaucracy. If I want to come up with a solution, I just need to create it,” she says.
Currently, she works with a team that develops apps that integrate US-based cross-border money transfer platforms with Kenyan banks and telecommunication firms.
Rehema Wachira trained as a political scientist. Now she is a back-end developer at Andela, remotely working for a women’s website.
“I keep the website running as well as formulate new features to make it more interactive and responsive to users’ needs,” she adds.
For Tom Ogoma, a senior developer, who came to Andela with a background of technology, having studied computer science, he has worked for corporate clients based in US and Australia from the comfort of his Nairobi office.
“I am currently developing three products for MasterCard Labs. One of them is Kupaa which is an education software product used in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and India,” he says, adding that he has also worked on another app that links kiosk owners to suppliers.
The stories of these Kenyan innovators illustrate how fast the country's IT outsourcing sector is growing as international companies search for cheaper labour.