In the digital age, coding has become a highly sought-after skill. Coding has the power to change lives, alleviate poverty, and boost prosperity in the developing world. Code for Change, a disruptive South African nonprofit, is determined to bridge the skills gap in the ICT market, and with Microsoft support, is doing so by empowering youth with coding skills. “We started in 2009 as volunteers with the idea of providing youth and young women with introductory-level ICT skills like typing and Microsoft Office skills to get them into entry-level digital-savvy jobs,” says Jonathan Novotny, founder and CEO at Code for Change. “By 2016, we realized that a lot of the tools for developed markets were simply not working in Africa due to connectivity or other infrastructural challenges. That’s why we started looking at building a brand around coding, destined for African youth, specifically.”
CodeJIKA.com came into being as an initiative that takes advantage of a free online platform and mobile app to ignite the potential of South African youth, particularly from underserved communities, by teaching them web development skills. “CodeJIKA was born out of the need to make coding content universally accessible to even the most underserviced areas,” explains Mpho Segolela, Head of Operations at Code for Change. In collaboration with Microsoft—a longtime advocate of mainstreaming computer skills worldwide—the organization was able to expand this program, reaching more than 1,500 schools and developing new partnerships, but also push for policy change to make digital learning an integral component of school curriculum rather than a mere after-school program.