Our personality of the week is News Churchill Nanje by name. He is a 30-year-old who built one of Africa’s biggest job search engines. He hails from a small town in Cameroon. Nanje has a burning desire to inspire the younger folks to achieve far more than what he has achieved.
In one interview he said “People say I look way younger and talk way younger than my age,” dressing in simple and casual jeans with a T-shirt, in the small town of Buea, Cameroon. The software engineer can hardly be classified as old, and looks like he should still be at university.
Nanje founded Njorku, one of Africa’s biggest job search engines. “Basically we are like a Google search engine for jobs in Africa,” he explains. Unlike other sites, Njorku does not host the jobs – it searches the internet for them, meaning it can be used anywhere on the continent. “recently we saw a lot of traffic from Sudan, like 500 users daily. I don’t even know how they got to us.” Five years ago Nanje set up the site in his bedroom in Buea, Njorku has served more than 2 million unique users across 11 African countries. His story exemplifies the optimism surrounding Africa’s digital economy at present.
The success of his exploration is even more surprising when he explains how he first got into coding. “I didn’t even have a laptop or a computer. I couldn’t even pay for the internet,” he explained.
As a growing teenager he could not afford buying airtime in the café and would hang around internet cafes until the owners gave assist him with free access to the internet.
“I was just lucky. Maybe they liked the look of me?” Nanje surprisingly tutored himself how to do coding through the internet. The saying that “where there is a will there is a way” is so so true. So as soon as he started the self-training, he was able to get more skills, make cool money, get an apartment for himself, establish a business, and turn to employer of labour. He started taking care of his siblings, and sponsor them in their education.
By the time he was age 20, he set up his first company, named AfroVision, with strong interest in IT consultancy. It was a success but had a high rate of employee attrition. After searching online for ways to replace his engineers quickly, he found nothing so decided to build something himself. “We wanted to build a tool that is as big as an elephant. That’s the inspiration behind the name and the logo,” he says, adding that Njorku means elephant in many Bantu languages.
Njorku has its headquarters at Silicon Mountain which as produced more tech startups than anywhere else in the country. “We’re a lean startup; just five permanent staff,” says Nanje
Even though Nanje couldn’t afford to buy a computer or an Internet connection, He went ahead to build one of Africa’s biggest job search engines, hence it gives him much joy to bring up young people. The younger generation has potential to create a positive dent in information technology world. He talked about one of his intern’s, ‘Hope’. Hope is a bright student at the university. “When I see him,” he says, “I’m like, maybe if someone had took me like this I would have been where I am faster.
Nanje explains why he is interested in young people such as Hope and why such young guys are so important to him. “It’s mostly because of where I come from and he reminds me of me. He’s smart, he’s a straight-A kid but without guidance maybe he wouldn’t become the engineer he could become. So I will guide him so that maybe in the future he can build the next Njorku or he will build his own Njorku competitor one day.
This is an inspiring story of how ordinary African young minds are thinking outside the box to create their own desired world…Be inspired!