The Social Entrepreneur Business That Is Changing Coding Education In Africa

Arlene Mulder, co-founder and MD of explosive social entrepreneur venture We Think Code_ is the guest of upcoming Heavy Chef event. In preparation of the event Fred Roed briefly chatted to Arlene about why she had left her career in finance and about the coding education in South Africa.


Arlene, what drove you to make the leap from banking to teaching hungry young minds to code? 
Over the last few year there has been a big shift for companies to be more technology driven, especially prevalent in the financial industry. Therefore, companies require talent who can adapt to the fast changing tech world, who can use coding as tool to solve problems and collaborate to design tech solutions. We realised there was a significant demand in South Africa, and my passion for technology, education and entrepreneurship came together in starting WeThinkCode_.

Why is coding is so important to Africa?
We understand the real problems here, and we need to develop the appropriate tech solutions which will enable a world of possibility. In Africa, we have the world's youngest population, and we are diverse, creative and innovative. We are the ones who need to design a better future. 

Have you been surprised by the takeup at We Think Code_?
We could never have dreamed that we would scale so quickly. We opened our doors in Joburg in January 2016, and we are now in our third year with our second campus open in Cape Town. The support from industry have also been overwhelming.

Welcome to Cape Town! - how have you found the 'Silicon Cape' startup vibes here?
Cape Town is my favourite city in the world! I’ve only been here a few months, but so far I love the energy; I am meeting incredibly creative, young talented people, who are excited about designing solutions and to make a significant impact. 

Are there any unique idiosyncrasies about our talent here that stands us apart from international developers? 
Our talents are diverse, innovative and creative. They are eager to learn, do not back away from any challenge and keen to solve real issues in order to design a better future.

Can you code? Can you handle your own against the cocky developers that like to throw their weight around Cape Town? 
I have always loved solving problems through mathematics and coding, and started by learning Turbo Pascal in high school (giving away my age). I completed my master’s degree in Business Mathematics and Informatics where I worked in statistical analysis languages like R, SAS and Matlab. I would definitely have to take some time to sharpen up my skills before I’d take on the legendary Cape Town devs! 

Wow! A true Heavy Chef. Thank you, Arlene, we can't wait to see you on the Heavy Chef stage.

Heavy Chef readers, book your tickets here.