Facebook backing for firm’s expansion in Africa
A TECHNOLOGY company spun out of Edinburgh University has won the backing of Facebook to expand its service providing coding classes across Africa.
Hyperion Development provides software development and computer science education internationally. It was founded by South African Riaz Moola while studying at the University of Edinburgh in 2012, who went on to build an online course platform for computer science education, supported by the largest online community of software developers in Africa.
The company, backed by the LAUNCH.ed team at Edinburgh Research & Innovation, allows anyone to take online courses in coding with a personal computer (PC) or mobile phone; even with limited internet connection.
This endeavour has won an Innovation Challenge in Africa award for developing an educational platform which enables people across the African continent to participate in classes that can create opportunities and prospects for better employment and higher paying jobs.
Hyperion was the recipient of the Innovation Challenge Award in the education category, one of six Innovation Challenge in Africa awards, devised by Internet.org, an initiative led by Facebook.
When asked how he felt about winning the award, Mr Moola said: “I was very relieved. It’s been difficult to get funding. We operate in Africa but we’ve had no funding from Africa.”
Mr Moola said Edinburgh university had been very important, giving the company its first funding. He said the company planned to create a “sustainable cycle of education” and give Africans access to training that they could then use anywhere.
“This coding education is uniquely empowering – no skill can more rapidly empower individuals to gain access to well-paying careers, yet no skill is as hard to learn in the third world,” he said. “In Africa, over 200 million low-income youth can harness the skills we teach to change their lives forever.”
Hyperion launched in the UK on November 1 to allow students to access online coding education with one-on-one mentors in Africa. Every course purchased allows one lowincome student in Africa to learn entirely free with Hyperion, giving them access career opportunities that simply don’t exist otherwise.
The “social impact award” consists of $150,000 cash, plus a $60,000 support grant from Facebook.
HYPERION: Founder Riaz Moola, third from left, with colleagues Dimitri Kalamoudacos, Umar Randeree, Richard Niescior, Brandon Chetty and Godfrey Maringa. Picture: Julian Carelsen