I recently had the opportunity to interview Doug Bradbury, co-founder of One World Coders. One World Coders offers out-sourced development services for team augmentation and custom software development.
In this first installment, I ask Doug about his background and about how One World Coders was created.
Walsh: I appreciate you giving me some of your time. Why don’t you start by telling me a little bit about your particular background and from that how did you get to One World Coders?
Bradbury: I have a Computer Engineering background, and I started my career doing a lot of embedded systems programming. I joined a consulting firm called 8th Light early in its life. In 2007, I was the fifth employee there, and I started doing much more general-purpose software consulting. We were going along building this consulting business and growing it at a nice steady clip. I first went to Rwanda in 2011 as part of a trip taking some high school kids. We were looking for a place where we could get these students on the ground in a refugee camp, and Rwanda has several such camps hosting refugees from places like the Congo. We found a partnership there and took groups there in 2011 and 2014. That was my introduction to Rwanda and east Africa. I was really impressed. Rwanda is a really beautiful country, and most of what people know about Rwanda comes from what they know of what happened in 1994 when a pretty horrific genocide rocked the country. What you don’t hear a lot about is what has happened since. Rwanda has emerged from that traumatic history and has built a strong and functional government and a growing economy. Rwanda is land-locked, so they are building their economy on services. Tourism is growing quite a bit, and they are making a big investment in information technology and all that infrastructure. Since I first went in 2011, I was trying to figure out how I could do something in Rwanda, how I could use what we had been doing at 8th Light with our apprenticeship program that was really successful to be able to create opportunities for people in a different part of the world. It was 2017, and I returned to Rwanda with this idea in the back of my mind but not yet having made much progress on it. I made of couple of connections on that trip that resulted in me finding a pool of Rwandans that were studying in the United States. When I saw that, I started to meet those folks and recruit from that group. I knew then that I had a place to start with the talent – that’s where I had always been stuck. I knew I could move to Rwanda and mentor, and maybe in four or five years we would have some decent programming services off the ground, but the educational infrastructure wasn’t that good – not that university education is great for teaching programming to begin with even in the U.S. I knew I would have a long haul to get that first set of talent. I was introduced to a scholarship program called Bridge2Rwanda, and I started recruiting from there and actually hired a few people out of that program to be apprentices at 8th Light. They went through the apprenticeship program there and started working on 8th Light clients and doing quite well. Both of those developers went on to get Master’s; I think they are the only people with Master’s degrees in Computer Science that 8th Light has ever hired because they tend to hire people from much more non-traditional routes. These guys were in the program, and we had looked at launching an 8th Light office in Africa and even built a business plan for 8th Light. In the end we decided to launch it as a separate company with 8th Light as a partner in that new company, but we launched it independently so that it could make its own decisions and go find its own market fit for the services. In November 2019 we took that step. The Rwandans I had been working with and I left 8th Light to start One World Coders.
Walsh: You mentioned the Bridge2Rwanda scholarship. Was that something that already existed from which you were able to find people and then coordinate with them?
Bradbury: It began as a Rwandan government program called the Presidential Scholarship where Rwanda was providing funding for people to study internationally. A few classes of people went through that program and then behind it came Bridge2Rwanda. They take students into a gap year after high school, help them get their TOEFL and ACT scores up, then help them apply for scholarships in the U.S. Its not just one scholarship they are applying for; they find scholarships from all over, and they are pretty successful at finding these scholarships for people to study on in the U.S. It was an existing program that I got connected with and started hiring people from.
In the next installment of my interview with Doug, we will explore the types of services offered by One World Coders.
To learn more about One World Coders…
- General information: https://www.oneworldcoders.com
- Videos of weekly katas and other meetups on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCirIapVcTclvbyX_xUK2zcQ
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oneworldcoders
- Slack Workspace: https://www.oneworldcoders.com/blog/one-world-coders-community-10-launches-in-rwanda