Face­book back­ing for firm’s ex­pan­sion in Africa

The Herald - - BUSINESS - KEVIN SCOTT

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

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