• Esmahan Abdulla

Coding Skills to Feed Yemen's Hungry Digital Economy

On the other side of a google meeting sits Eman Alzariey. At 29 years old, she sits tall, speaks perfect English and from across the Atlantic, displays a humble confidence. Throughout the telling of her story, she’s smiling. Not one complaint, even as Yemen is being hit hard with Covid-19. It doesn’t even come up.


After graduating at 25 from the Engineering college with an internship lined up, Eman stood by as she saw a devolving war rob her of her opportunities. For two years, she took jobs here and there, whatever she could find to help her family. She then worked for two years as a teacher assistant in the same Engineering College she graduated from. Frustration mounted as she felt forced to let go of her hopes of finding that ideal engineering job. Eman was grappling with the uncertainty of the situation in Yemen and the stress that comes with wanting to help your family.


When she unexpectedly came across a Facebook post about a local non-profit organization teaching people how to code, she could envision a new trajectory for her career. It was free and boasted a female enrollment of 50%. Naturally, she was skeptical. Hope, a necessary trait in conflict drenched Yemen, drove her to move forward. She took a deep breath, said a prayer, and began the intense application process. A few weeks later, she received an email:


“Congratulations! You have been accepted into the Re:Coded Web Development Bootcamp! This is no small feat. We received nearly a thousand applications. Well done!”


Excited and nervous, like the first day at a new school, Eman was ready for her second chance! At the bootcamp with zero coding experience, Eman worked hard to catch up to the other students. She soon realized this wasn’t a typical class. Along with learning how to code, Re:Coded provided practical hands-on experience. The students worked in groups to simulate what it is like on the job. Sometimes she led, sometimes she followed. Thursdays were for building soft skills. She learned how to communicate effectively via email, research, apply for jobs, handle interviews, and enter the workforce. Speakers would visit and provide motivation and insight. This class was different. Practical. Well rounded.


“Learning how to code gives you a magical power to join the digital world where opportunities are limitless.” says Mohamed Alaoudi, the Program Manager and founder for Re:Coded Yemen.


Hailing from Silicon Valley, Mohamed believes in the power of technology. Digital skills like coding give the youth, women and people with disabilities the power to work from anywhere and earn a living. It is bigger than any single graduate though. These skills can be used to improve the local economy by introducing innovation, improve existing businesses, create new businesses and tools to make life easier.


When Mohamed came across the Re:Coded founders during his time at Facebook, he instantly knew it would have a powerful impact on Yemen. He took advantage of the opportunity, got introduced to the team, and in 2018, helped Re:Coded run a successful pilot program. He and his team are now changing the course of many lives in Yemen, including Yemen itself.


 
“Learning how to code gives you a magical power to join the digital world where opportunities are limitless.”
- Mohamed Alaoudi, Program Manager and Founder of Re:Coded Yemen

 



After completing the Re:Coded program, Eman had a certification from the Flatiron School in NYC and a live website under her belt. While still in the bootcamp, she picked up a part-time job with Musanadah, a non-profit in Yemen. Today, four months after graduation, she has contributed to two more live websites. She also landed a freelance job and is now a breadwinner for her family. Many new paths, never before dreamed of are now unfolding. She looks forward to becoming an entrepreneur one day, learning back-end development and helping pave the way for other women in Yemen.


Eman is one of many. Re:Coded’s first graduating class went on to win Yemen’s National Innovation Award with www.Azora.tech, an Android Point of Sale for small retail stores. Many of its graduates have begun start-ups. Re:Coded has an impressive 85% employment rate for its graduates. The local economy has a shortage of web developers, so they’re finding work right at home. Re:Coded is creating a work force for the budding digital economy in Yemen with aspirations to grow it.


Re:Coded receives 1000 applications for 15 open slots. The hunger for coding skills is there; the success of graduates proves that the potential is there. There is a ton of room left to create more classes, accept more students or run multiple cohorts at once. Here is what you can do to help Mohamed and Re:Coded provide more opportunities to the people of Yemen.


  1. Spread awareness! Follow Re:Coded on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Youtube

  2. Volunteer direct with Re:Coded.

  3. Donate to help sustain and grow the program in Yemen.



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