Blockchain technology has taken the world by storm, and many industries are leveraging it to solve various problems. However, there is a significant knowledge gap in Africa when it comes to developing blockchain solutions. In an exclusive interview with Business Vanguard, Awosika Israel Ayodeji, founder of Web3bridge, shares his background and how he got interested in blockchain technology. He also talks about the mission of Web3bridge, the courses and training programs offered, how they ensure that students receive the latest training in blockchain technology, success stories of Web3bridge alumni, and the challenges they’ve faced. He also shares how Web3bridge plans to expand and reach more aspiring blockchain developers in Nigeria and Africa. Excerpt:

Can you tell us about your background and how you got interested in blockchain technology?

I am a graduate of Home Economics and Hotel management Education from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-ode. After graduation, I was working as a freelance researcher. In 2017 a few of my friends who were in multi level marketing and also trading FX usually come to house to trade, I remember all of us sitting on the floor trading and I had to open an exchange wallet. October 2017, a friend told me about cryptocurrency airdrop (free money) and we created a Whatsapp group to teach about Blockchain, and I became drawn to the technology since then.

What inspired you to start Web3bridge and what is its mission?

After learning about Blockchain, I was curious to know more and also see how much opportunity I can get (Value and monetary). In 2018, I decided to move from someone who is in to make free money to actually making a career from technology. As I kept understanding about the technology, I saw a knowledge gap that needed to be filled; first from users who do not understand the technology they were using or about to use, to developers who do not understand the new language or technology they are building with and also products that are not useable cos of the technology it was built with. In 2018, I started hosting meetups and training programs to educate people about Blockchain, as part of my job as an ambassador for some Blockchain projects and as a matter of interest.

While training people, I saw that most of the blockchain projects we have then do not directly solve African solutions and also we have very limited blockchain developers in Africa. October 10th, 2019, after the Ethereum global Devcon conference, one of the co-founders of Ethereum Foundation announced that Ethereum (a blockchain) needs a million developers and the ecosystem will be working to achieve the number. After seeing the tweet, I saw the opportunity to train blockchain developers because I believe we have enough interest, intellectual and human capital to achieve the number from Nigeria and Africa.

How does Web3bridge differ from other blockchain developers training programs in Nigeria and Africa?

Web3bridge runs a free 16-weeks cohort based onsite and online training program, where interested and vetted participants come onsite in the facility in Lagos to learn alongside their peers who are in other African countries and are not able to come to Lagos. The program is intense, offering a minimum of 54 hours per week class with the aim of training Ethereum developers within the time frame of the cohort.

Web3bridge pride itself in updated curriculum, as each cohort’s curriculum is designed to meet up with the recent updates in the Ethereum blockchain space.

What kind of courses or training programs does Web3bridge offer, and how are they structured?

Web3bridge offers programming language training such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React NodeJs, Golang and Solidity.

Our Web3 development training is structured to train individuals with no programming experience into becoming Blockchain developers and even moving to Blockchain protocol developers.The web development training (web2) is a 12 weeks fully online program that trains individuals with no development experience and those that are looking to improve on their Web2 development experience while the Blockchain training focuses on Solidity development and blockchain frontend. The blockchain development program also trains on Smart contract audit and security.

How does Web3bridge ensure that its students receive the latest and most relevant training in blockchain technology?

Web3bridge is an active community within the Ethereum blockchain ecosystem, the mentors of the program are some of the best Ethereum developers in the ecosystem who are actively contributing codes and have vast understanding of the language, also the program allows for participants of the program to interact, connect and meet with the global industry experts.

Can you share some success stories of Web3bridge alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions to the blockchain industry?

Over the last three years, Alumni of the program have participated in and won global Hackathons (Ethglobal, Algorand, Encode, Filecoin, Celo etc), and a good number of them also work with top blockchain companies where they contribute very resourcefully.

One of the companies where the alumni work, recently built the CBDC experiment for a country in Europe with four (4) of the alumni leading the team that wrote the code. Safe to say that alumni of the program are making very great contributions to the Blockchain space in Africa and globally.

How does Web3bridge work with companies and organizations to provide blockchain development services?

Web3bridge work with companies interested in building blockchain solutions, we provide development service and also offer talents to teams who are looking to hire developers. We also work with hiring partners and conduct training sessions for companies who are looking to train their internal teams.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced while running Web3bridge, and how have you overcome them?

The first major challenge we faced while starting was interest as many of the existing developers were not interested in learning blockchain development, which motivated us to create a program for complete beginners. Also we had the challenge of funding since we offer the program entirely free for the learners and the onsite learners in our facility in Lagos enjoy free accommodation, feeding, internet access and electricity. Our alumni, friends and industry partners have been supportive in working around the funding challenges. And lastly will be placing talents, and we have been working with experienced hiring partners to solve this issue.

How does Web3bridge plan to expand and reach more aspiring blockchain developers in Nigeria and Africa?

In the last three years, we have directly and indirectly worked with over ten (10) blockchain clubs in higher institutions and we are supporting and working with existing ones to set up more campus clubs. We believe this will be a good ground to expand our reach. We are also improving the quality of the program and the alumni so we can continue to benefit from word of mouth publicity and we are also working with few partners in Nigeria and other African countries to expand our reach.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in blockchain development, and how can Web3bridge help them achieve their goals?

My advice to someone interested in starting a career in blockchain development is that the best time to start is now. Learning blockchain development like any other learning requires time, commitment and sacrifice so they should make up their mind to give it what it takes. Web3bridge runs two cohorts in a year and we are open to working with anyone with interest. Our community is also open to supporting everyone that is interested and needs help while learning

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