Yaba Manifesto: Talent



Grand aim(s) of the talent pillar : To bridge the talent gap faced by the yaba ecosystem by partnering with academic institutions, talent communities and groups.

Key Objectives:

  1. Discovery
  2. Training and Mentorship
  3. Job Matching and Placements

@delebakare is the leader and moderator of this conversation. The live document of the talent article for the Yaba Manifesto is available to view here.

Use this thread to leave your comments, suggestions and concerns. Don’t forget to observe the rules. If you happened to stumble on this, an overview of the Yaba Manifesto is here for you to gain context. Thanks!

The Open Yaba Manifesto is here

The problems with technical talent in our ecosystem are well documented and debated. The problem with non technical talent is given less attention.

I think we know how to train technical talent with programs like Hotels.ng internship, Andela and Switch we just need to scale and replicate these programs.

However, it’s really hard to recruit top quality non technical talent:

Whether it’s a kick ass sales person to scale your sales team
Or its an operations person to take all the headache of internet, power and a conducive working environment of your head.

I think other industries may be more attractive to non technical talent than the technology sector, so we may not be able to attract the best and it’s very difficult to train/mentor people because even the founders know very little about these roles.

I may be wrong though, What do you guys think?


I agree… what more are companies doing to show how other talent category especially from the non-technical aspect are succeeding and growing within. In terms of career growth how are companies showing you can come in as sales/business development professional and still be a kick ass talent. This sheds more light on employer branding & building an effecient talent pipleline…especially aimed at entry level.


Actually you have a point there Derin. To get top quality non-technical talent, i feel we may need to rely on non-technical training institutions and firms. Some of these guys have standards in which they already operate and we’re also going to bring them in so they can provide the quality of talents we seek in this area.

Please suggest any training firm or business that develops quality non-technical talent, if you know one. We also need THEM. Thank you.


My question which might sound naive is, what are the non-technical talents that are required in our tech companies here ?


To start with, there are Operations, Sales, Human Resource, Legal, Accounting and/or Finance and other departments that companies have. The difference is that it takes quite a while for a Startup to need to have these departments. Because by then, it means you have product-market fit and a little traction for your product.

I think for Human Resource, Finance and Accounting talent, KPMG would be a very good place to pluck experienced talent from. I say KPMG because out of the top consulting companies in the country, they have the highest rate of employee exit. That is why they practically recruit all year round.

I don’t think “other” industries are more attractive to non-technical talent. The problem IMHO is that the Startup community has not sold itself to the competent and brilliant graduates out there that they can and should be a viable option for anyone that wants to have an exciting career in technology. Most brilliant graduates I know have at the maximum 3 industries they want to work in: Oil & Gas, Telecoms and Financial Services.

The world needs to know that it is not only developers and UI/UX guys that make up the Startup ecosystem. They should be informed that though the developers are the rock stars, the Startup community needs lawyers, accountants, sales people and a host of other non-technical talent the way football needs coaches, assistant coaches, physiotherapists and psychologists.


A very good point. Startups need to have more reach into young, vibrant minds. KPMG will be a great model to look into in terms of how they create and maximise their talent base…but I wouldn’t advise conciously sourcing talent from them.

I think a great idea will be career fairs. Where like I said brands of companies are put out there and also their profiles, values etc. A follow up assessments or recruitment procedures can then be set up for criterias potential candidate need to be assessed by.


Thanks for your answer.

I have noticed though that many startups especially those who have raised significant funding to scale their business and have needs for this kind of talent hardly recruit for them which in turn affects them in the long term. Case in point the 2 biggest e-commerce companies in Nigeria today. If I am to hazard a guess, they lack a quality department that oversees the items that are sold and delivered or they barely lean to the quality department if they have one hence why they are having challenges and I hardly see them recruiting for this sort of talent. I hope this discussion will look at that.


Hi everyone,

There is a key question I can’t seem to shake off my mind, which is: What are the constraints to Yaba having the largest pool of technical talent and other ancillary talents necessary for Startups to survive and thrive globally in the next 10years?

I’d just point out a few constraints I’ve observed, and put forward a few solutions that come to mind.

Constraint #1: Paradoxically, the biggest source for technical talent is also the one which mistrains or undertrains these talents the most - to the point where they are practically useless to modern Startups and large conglomerates. This mistraining/undertraining arises because faculty at YabaTech & UNILAG still use dangerously outdated curriculum for grooming the future generations.

Solution: Quarterly Curriculum Review & Integration Roundtable

  • Community amends/develops & potentially adopts solution
  • Identify 10 Priority Courses for review
  • Identify components of the courses for review
  • Identify 5 new degrees for introduction in the next 5 Years
  • Identify a Roundtable host
  • Identify 50 stakeholders (UNILAG HoDs, Yabatech HoDs, NERDC, Lecturers, Student Organizations)
  • Put logistics in place
  • Host maiden edition
  • Iterate & Improve

Constraint #2: This is a corollary to constraint #1 which is that tertiary institutions who still use outdated curriculum actually have lecturers with outdated knowledge about certain subject matters that need updating.

Solution 1: Interim Solution - Guest lecturers
This solution involves utilizing the current crop of technical talent in the tech ecosystem to deliver practical industry insights in line with existing courses in specific departments say 1once per month.
- Community amends/develops & potentially adopts solution
- Identify 10 Priority Courses
- Identify 50 Guest Lecturers (From the likes of Switch, Andela)
- Put logistics in place
- Launch the Accord online/offline & call for signatures
- Iterate & Improve

Solution 2: Medium term solution - Lecturer Re-Training
- Community amends/develops & potentially adopts solution
- Identify Re-training Centers (by the likes of Switch, BaseCode, Andela)
- Identify 50 Potential Participants
- Contact Potential funders like DFID’s- Teacher Development Program especially for cases where government universities lack the funding to pay for the necessary re-training.
- Put logistics in place
- Launch the Accord online/offline & call for signatures
- Iterate & Improve

Constraint #3: Poor Pipeline Development; there is very little intentionality about developing the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) pipeline in Yaba and by extension Naija. There are snippet of efforts here and there (e.g CCHUB used to have after-school science activities on the 6th Floor for secondary school students), but nothing mainstream. This is a major challenge to grooming STEM talents of the future who would be sold out on excellence in STEM careers and will do literally anything to thrive in STEM.

Solution: Create & sustain 500+ Active, after-School STEM Clubs across public secondary schools: JETs Clubs, NSBE-PCI,
Solution: Organise Yaba Cluster Science fairs that excite students at a very early age about STEM (add example)
Solution: CodeWars… A reality TV Series to produce coding superstars from universities & Secondary schools.
Solution: One-on-One, quarterly Career Counseling in conjunction with G&C departments of Secondary schools.

  • Community amends/develops & potentially adopts solution
  • Identify a Pipeline Development coordinator (reports to the volunteer head of the Talent Pillar)
  • Contact NSBE-USA PCI Initiative (I can help with this…they have excellent STEM curriculum, Science Fair frameworks that can be adapted for free, in some cases they provide funding or the framework to get funding)
  • Put logistics in place
  • Host maiden edition(s)
  • Iterate & Improve

Constraint #4: Poor pay remuneration for developers & other technical talents is a key constraint. There are complaints from developers - even in bigname Startups & conglomerates in Lagos - that they are paid quite non-commensurately to the amount of work put in. What we need to make tech-companies realize in the long term is that there is a Talent War going on amongst industries; that intelligent Nigerian guy/girl who could be the greatest hacker or Security Analyst when he/she sees, for example a conventional cleaning job in the oil industry, offering certain mouth-watering pays will over night jump ship in terms of profession - and become a cleaner! This is just an example. But the point is, technology altruism aside, people need to put food on the table especially in Naija that we don’t have any formal social security; the only social security most families have is that they have one cousin/uncle/brother/sister who is earning well. I assure you that this is silently factored in when most certain families choose career paths for this would-be uncle/brother/sister etc at a young age.

Let us in the tech-space/startup-space not remain unknowing casualties in a very, very real Talent War amongst industries.

Solution: The Yaba Accord (where all Yaba Tech Cluster companies earning above a certain amount of revenue and are signed to the accord) pledge not to pay certain categories of talents amounts that are way below what their compatriots around the world earn.

This will gradually (over the next 10-years) attract the brightest local talents who can compete with their peers globally to the relevant field. Also there should be an annual, anonymous, publish what you pay survey which contacts employee of companies to anonymously state what their employers pay them in their profession.

  • Community amends/develops & potentially adopts solution
  • Identify 10 Talent Pay category for different degrees of standardization
  • Identify existing corporate lights/association in the profession that can participate in this semi-unionization of technical talents in the private sector.
  • Put logistics in place
  • Launch the Accord online/offline & call for signatures
  • Iterate & Improve

Constraint #5: There is a 5th constraint that occurs to me…I will edit/update this post later in the week, but for now, make I go ready for work.

Good morning, good people!


@simioluwatomi While you have a point there, how many ex-KPMG top executive will work for a startup?


@Engr_Abel_Akeni Chief Abel, nice one. I read this 3 times and it makes good sense. We will definitely add some of this to the plan and we’d love to see the 5th constraint later in the week. Thanks a lot


You assume that everyone who leaves or wants to leave KPMG is a top executive. There are many graduate trainees at KPMG who don’t stay on the job for 2 years and move on. I never said to go pluck the top executives; it doesn’t make financial or economic sense.

@Engr_Abel_Akeni You are making too much sense. Been following your posts on the other thread. Where were you when Buhari wanted to appoint a new DG for OIIE?


Thanks @chukwuudi .
Just wanted to call this out as it is very important.
Tech companies and startups need to think more about what they offer their staff in terms of career growth.
i.e. where will they be 2 - 5 years after joining your company.
Money is not the only thing that attracts talent.


Thank you…More than anything as much as youths & experienced are looking for jobs. It’s a necessity to create a new pipeline for the millennials and gen z getting into the system and showing how corporate system works and turning their zeal and knowledge into what they can bring into a work environment that offer them this. Don’t say because you’re a start up, so you wouldn’t start building a talent growth structure system.

I had the opportunity to meet People operations director of Andela and I love what she’s doing with internship system within. For the experienced professionals they need to come in as leaders to build on improving culture and be value catalyst within units to boost growth in various start ups.


For talent development,lets take a clue from the Nigerian Military,to qualify as an officer,you need to pass through 5 years intensive training at an elite military university called the Nigeria Defense Academy,Kaduna) after successfully passing the final exam,you are qualified as an officer in the armed forces of your choice after which,you will be posted to different department, something they call POSTING

why don’t we follow the same tactics as the military,we can create an elite university for STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) which will be based on merit,that way we take the best basically we are creating an elite army of programmers,engineers,hackers etc.after their education they can automatically gain employment into jobs that suits there career path.

Talents are not created in one day,we need to catch them young,change their mentality,educate them and make science fun again,in that way we are creating future talents.

Sincerely speaking,i think Nigeria is not prepared,the truth is we need government support in creating a conducive environments for STEM, role of government is very important in development of talents i.e changing of curriculums etc.


Personal (career) development is equally important, if not more.


Some very good ideas have been shared here, but why isn’t anyone talking about the emmigration of talent?
I was at a conference where a senior developer at Andela said 80% of developers in Nigeria are trainee developers, only 20% are accomplished developers.
He also said 90% of his developer friends have either gone abroad or are working remotely for a coy abroad.


What I’m saying basically is that while there’s still room for improvement, we have quite a number of programs that on-board non techies into tech, but very few, if any that shelters this growing passion and takes them from trainee developers to accomplished developers.


Everyone raising great points, i dont have much to contribute as i believe things will form and shape nonetheless the outcome of this thread.
I believe communities on meetup.com and other frequent eventing communities will go a long way helping and growing a talent base for The Yaba Manifesto. If you say Yabatech and Unilag should be the standard, what about me as a student residing in Agege but schooling in OAU, after my 4 years here, i will still go back to Lagos to join a company or start my own. What woll you then say about Moocs’ i take on the internet and other certifications i got. So in a nutshell, i believe if Yaba can create a way where all tech meetups are hosted there, they wont be a problem of hiring, we have a whole bunch of communities like Laravel, full of budding and thriving developers most of which are jobless or freelance.


Interesting suggestions so far. I sincerely believe that any impact you’re making at the University level is little compared to the impact you would make if you connect with students earlier maybe at Secondary School or even at Primary School level.

I was privileged to work with Lagos State Technical Colleges when we launched our educational server (the Otomatik server). What I discovered created a desire in me that seems to have become unquenchable. Do you know that when you pass your Junior WAEC you are sent to a senior Secondary School but if you fail, you are sent to a technical college to learn a skill. So you have a bunch of really brilliant boys and girls who do not believe that they are academically sound enough to further their education in a tertiary institution, no matter how well they performed while learning the technical skill they signed up for. These guys after 3 years of Technical education, join the workforce as menial workers or small business owners.

Companies like Samsung are currently taping into that by creating Samsung Experience Centers within the school to teach students how to troubleshoot and repair Samsung products. Hoping to maintain their market share by ensuring you have enough technicians recommending Samsung products, due to product knowledge and brand identity (Same reason Toyota is ubiquitous in Nigeria - mechanics will keep recommending it)

Why Technical colleges?

  1. Students are not under pressure to learn non-essential subjects like their secondary school counterparts
  2. Students are young and brilliant
  3. Students are not under pressure to start earning money, a subtle pressure every undergraduate is most likely dealing with
  4. Students have the opportunity to eventually pass through Tertiary Institutions and hopefully rub off on fellow students (if you cant change a thing from the top, you might be able to change it from within). I believe that if you create enough enabled students, teachers would self educate to catch up and facilitate learning
  5. It is easy to remove the mental and psychological shackles imposed on them by the mere method of their admission into the Technical Colleges as a result of a failure (The six months when we left our offline Otomatik Servers in Agidingbi for Students to access the eLibrary and JAMB practice, more students were willing to “risk” taking JAMB)
  6. They have 3 years to be taught, while most current training have 3 or 6 months windows (Those guys will one out as Ninjas if given the appropriate training)
  7. Technical colleges are more open to external incursions than secondary schools or Universities.

So in summary, I think that this overlooked segment might be the key to taking the first steps. Just my humble opinions though.