SLATECUBE: BREAKING THE AFRICAN STEREOTYPE
Chris Kwekowe is the founder of Slatecube, a job simulation platform based in Nigeria. His company connects African talents with international companies through internship programs. Founded in 2014, Slatecube has partnerships with renowned multinationals such as Intel, Cisco and Grant Thornton. In this interview, he reveals the challenges and lessons learnt as a young entrepreneur in Africa, a land of still untapped resources.
What is Slatecube?
Slatecube connects African young professionals to international jobs opportunities. One of the key things I realized is that out of 15 millions African graduates from institutions across all continents every year, around 74% don’t have the skills required by companies. That’s why we want to capacity them and help them to be inserted in the job market.
We develop content in partnership with schools and organizations, mostly in the US, offering online courses on our platform. Only the best candidates from these classes will be selected for the internships. In short, they will get the skills through the courses and experience through the internship. One more thing is that the internship can be done online, meaning you can take your program here in our offices.
That’s basically what we do. And for now it has been a success!
Congrats! What are the challenges you meet in your activities? Who or what is of help to you?
Our first difficulty was to gain access to data that are necessary to the planning of our programs. Information like gender proportion or age range of target market are very important. We also need access to more advanced resources, for engineering training for example. That’s when I seek for the help from MIT network or network of people who work for Fortune 500 companies.
Another issue is to get connected to top companies that are willing to accept our trainees as interns. Companies normally do whatever it costs to hire a good trainee. However, they are also skeptical about involving startups in this process. So, our challenge is to establish relationship with more companies and persuade them to take our talents as interns.
Recruitment is critical to companies when developing on a new market. How does SlateCube helps international entrepreneurs?
The answer is very simple. We will help them recruit at cheaper cost, as the cost of living is apparently cheaper in Africa in comparison with Europe and America. The intern can live in Kenya at much lower expense and work virtually for your office in New York or Paris. If you want to look for a software developer or personnel with any kind of skills, we can help you find one with suitable capability.
In fact, we are sending talents to not only in US but also Europe. I am in a discussion with BNP Paribas to see how we could help them getting more talents.
In a nutshell, the advantage is not just diversity of workforce but also lower cost of hiring at the same quality because our talents are trained at American/EU standard.
What could you say about setting up business in Lagos? What does an entrepreneur have to be careful about?
So, for Lagos, Nigeria, I think it’s a very important market if you want to target Nigeria or Africa in general. In fact, many big companies like Microsoft or Google are investing in their regional or continental headquarters here. That doesn’t rule out other challenges like pretty expensive data. By that I mean expensive access to Internet. However, the cost way cheaper than 2 years ago in Legos. Things are getting better.
What is next for Slatecube?
The future is very promising for us. We are looking for opportunities not only in America but also in Europe, like France or Germany. But especially Paris, France. It’s our purpose to gain presence in French Tech, meaning making our offerings known and breaking the stereotype about Africa!
Thank you Chris!