Yahya Bouhlel on Changing How People in Africa and the Middle East Learn and Prepare for Jobs of the Future

By: Leena Mekawi (The GrEEK Campus)

On: 09 May 2021 09:05 PM

Founded in 2017 by brothers Yahya and Amine Bouhlel, GOMYCODE is well on its way to becoming the largest developer community in Africa and the Middle East. In their first 3 years alone, GOMYCODE trained more than 10,000 students on the newest digital skills and connected them with tech opportunities around the world. 

In October 2020, GOMYCODE raised $850,000 in a pre-series A round from Anava Seed Fund, Wamda Capital, Meninx Holding and Jasminum Capital as lead investors; as well as Dali Kilani, Bechir Tourki and Houssem Aoudi as angel investors. In addition to its presence in Algiers, Casablanca, Cairo, Manama, Lagos and Abidjan, the startup recently opened its doors in Dakar, Senegal.  

We reached out to Yahya Bouhlel to discuss GOMYCODE’s mission, unique learning model and plans.

Congratulations on opening your first hackerspace in Egypt, right here at The GrEEK Campus! What does this mean to you?

It's a real pleasure for us to open in Egypt and especially in Cairo. At The GrEEK Campus, we are in the heart of the Egyptian startup ecosystem and it's a real pleasure to share our story, our vision, and our know-how. We're also learning a lot from being here. It's a constructive daily exchange.

Tell us a little bit about your background...how has your previous experience helped you to get where you are today?

I'm 23 years old. I've been passionate about coding since my childhood. At 15 years old, I was recruited by a startup in Silicon Valley. I learned a lot there. A year later, I founded GOMYCODE with my brother Amine Bouhlel.

How did the idea of starting Go My Code come about?

The idea began when I was in the United States. I realized how important coding is. I thought for a long time about how I can use what I learned there to help my country. My brother Amine and I saw a gap between what traditional education offered in Tunisia and what the job market demanded, and we decided to launch GOMYCODE as a way to bridge that gap.

Would you say the COVID19 pandemic has accelerated your goal to build the future of digital learning in the African continent?

From the beginning, we thought about the African continent. This mismatch of education results in huge unemployment rates in our region (Africa and the Middle East) and a gap between market recruiting needs (tech positions) and available talent.

Our vision is to leverage technology to empower a new generation of people and businesses in Africa and the Middle East, where 42% of professions are strongly impacted by digitalization and where 65% of the workforce do not have the necessary skills in this field. There are also 400,000 job openings in the digital industry in Africa and the Middle East. The African Venture & Startup Funding Report (2018) estimates that by 2030, the number of young people in Africa will increase by 42%. This will represent a market for young talents, most of whom are unfamiliar with digital developments. This market concerns 1.2 billion people, 700 million of which are under the age of 25.

The Covid-19 pandemic has only highlighted this reality further.

In what way does Go My Code help businesses both train their workforce and hire graduates of the Go My Code programs?

GOMYCODE students follow modern, practical and stimulating training to prepare them for the reality of the professional world. The working environment in our hackerspaces is similar to that of technical teams to help our alumni launch their careers. In addition, we have more than 100 partner companies who recruit our students. We listen to them and improve our programs according to their feedback and their needs.

Companies can also improve their team skills by stimulating their employees’ productivity, engagement, and collaboration through training in Web, DevOps, Data, Digital Marketing, and Design. GOMYCODE's learning methodology allows teams of all sizes to acquire digital expertise and an agile mindset that meets market requirements. We have training for all types of business!

Do you have any plans of expansion beyond Cairo?

Of course, we are on the lookout for all opportunities. If an opportunity arises to develop our presence in other Egyptian cities, or even in the continent, we'll do it.

You are currently hiring instructors, whom you’ve described as “pillars of the Go My Code experience.” What traits are you looking for?

Our instructors are indeed pillars of the GOMYCODE experience – they provide follow-ups, supervision, one-to-one meetings, and technical workshops; and they coach, motivate and push our students to achieve their hidden potentials. Instructors who join GOMYCODE will join a network of professional developers passionate about new technologies, and they will have a unique impact experience by assisting and helping multiple students to learn 21st-century skills. To join us, candidate instructors have to send us their CV and online portfolio as well as mention the technologies that they master. Apply here!

Thousands of students across the continent and region have used your education platform to learn new skills and get themselves ready for the jobs of the future. What makes your platform so accessible and unique?

We have a gamified, dynamic educational platform that makes for a unique learning experience. The platform is the result of collaboration between our educational team, developers, UX designers, content creators and partners. Combining personalized follow-up with independent learning, its various functions allow it to accommodate the entire educational path and suit all of our courses. We also update our platform frequently based on our students' feedback to improve the experience of our students, whether online or in person.

Go My code combines physical training at the hackerspaces with online learning,  what are the benefits of this blended model?

Education and new digital technologies are walking hand in hand nowadays, that’s why we firmly believe in our process. It's a holistic approach where the focus is on the students' needs. The model allows students to advance, and discover their place in a constantly evolving world, at their own pace. We offer our students the chance to learn in a field that captivates them. Students are mentored and observed by our instructors to guarantee their progress throughout the program. 

By following our programs, the students develop their technical programming skills but also soft skills like communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. In addition, students learn how to develop a product in its entirety. It's not about learning a few lines of code but about completing a whole project and being able to be proud of it. Developing a complete product is an important step in the GOMYCODE experience, it is a source of motivation and satisfaction and it remains a memorable experience for most students.

Special Discount for GrEEKS!

GOMYCODE is offering GrEEK members a 15% discount on all programs, as well as the chance to organize free monthly workshops on all of their available tracks. 

Discover GOMYCODE’s programs