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Nairobi Developer School is a three month program for programmers to learn and improve their skills!

A Dev School in Nairobi!

My name is Martha Chumo, though I make noise online as "Njeri Chelimo". :) I'm a 19 year old developer from Nairobi, Kenya. About two months ago, I ran this campaign on Indiegogo requesting people to help me attend Hacker School in New York. I was really excited that I got into Hacker School, and got the funds to go and become a better programmer...but unfortunately, I am not attending Hacker School because I am not eligible for a US tourist visa.

Help women get ahead in Tech! :)

Nairobi Developer School will paricularly address the great gender inbalance in the technology by encouranging women to participate in the program, and offer financial support to those who need it. We will invite women and other minority groups in tech to apply and the program allows them to thrive. Please reach out to us in the links below to help us achieve this! :)

Update - Why am I ineligible for a tourist visa? I'm an unmarried 19 year old woman with no kids.

A number of people have emailed me enquiring about my ineligibility, so I thought I could explain here. I applied for a tourist visa for the first time and got a really fast denial. The consular said, "You are in your gap year... I'm sorry". A gap year is the time in between high school and university. I am to start college in September. My persistent self and supporters went ahead to reapply for the same visa, believing I was eligible. I got support letters from Hacker School, AdaCamp SF (I was to be a participant), GNOME Outreach Program for Women, Codecademy community manager, Madison Ruby, my mentor from the Apache Deltacloud Project, and my partners in Kenya. During my second visa interview, I got a really nice consular who explained that the problem is not with support documentation or funds - it was with me. The consular said, and I quote, "You need social ties to Kenya. And now that you're an adult - I'm 19 - your parents do not count". This basically translates to I'm ineligible because I am an  unmarried 19 year old with no kids, not in her 3rd year of University, and has not worked for a company or the government for many years. I need these "social ties" to tie me to Kenya. I'm certain my friends do not count as "social ties". ;)

We all deserve a chance to be better programmers!

I'm ineligible to go to New York for Hacker School, but I am not ineligible to learn and become a better programmer! So I am starting a Dev School in Nairobi to give myself and numerous young East Africans a chance to learn, improve their programming skills, and build awesome technology for Africa. I am really excited about this because I still get to "become a better programmer" this summer while teaching and helping others also.

The Impact - Help create more success stories!

You can watch Shiko's Story here. There are so many young Kenyans with degrees who are misplaced in the job market or simply cannot find decent jobs. There are even more young potential entrepreneurs willing to learn and/or improve their skills. Through the Nairobi Dev School, these young people will get a chance to improve their skills or learn new skills while building job-creating technology. In our plans most will end up employing themselves while creating employment for others.

Shiko - How I got into code...

"I studied biochemistry in  university. I have worked in sales and marketing, project management and other random paper pushing jobs which had little or nothing to do with tech. When Martha first introduced me to programming, I was skeptical because I thought programming was all binary code which is something i was not remotely interested in.  She gave me books on html and css. Out of curiosity i read them. And that was it, I was sucked in for life! I love web design and self learning is so mind blowing.I mean i was like a kid with a new toy. I could wake up at four in the morning to do a simple mock up, play with different backgrounds and fonts and i get sooo happy. Btw i have only been learning for a month now as I write this. I quit my job two weeks ago to become a full time learner of code. My first project is my personal site, I am working on the mock up on photoshop. I also plan to build a platform for learning and teaching on ruby on rails with Martha. Nothing else matters to me at this point other than learning web design ,development and other "stuff" that will make me successful in life. Thanks to Martha and the Nairobi Dev School there is hope for life learners and tech visionaries like me!"

What is the money for?

The money we raise in this campaign will be used to set up the Dev School and run it for almost year! I have a budget of about $5000 a month. The money will be used for:

  • Renting out a space for the school.

  • Fast-speed internet connection.

  • Electricity for the school.

  • Buying chairs and desks and any other furniture in the beginning.

  • Buying laptops for participants.

  • Financial support to participants.  

  • Snacks during the program.

  • Volunteer stipends.


These are the basics things needed to learn, but unfortunately, are not accessible to most (almost all!) of Africans. So providing them at the school is the only way to ensure the school is an equal opportunity for all! :)

Nairobi Dev School will be a space for learners to come in and program awesome stuff using online tools. There will be optional Ruby on Rails classes (taught by me), and the rest will be self-learning and collaborative learning!

I need the funds to start it because the school will be free. Anyone who applies will attend the school for 3 months for free. This is the same experience I was going to get at Hacker school, and I want others to enjoy the same!

The funds will be used to get space, an Internet connection, electricity and any suppport services for the Dev School. I already raised more than $5000 from my previous campaign. I am using this to start out Nairobi Dev School, as I look for more funds to keep it runnning.

How else can I help?

  • Help me make some noise about the campaign. Share it with all your networks, and companies you think will be interested in supporting this course! You can use the Indiegogo share tools above.

  • Are you in Nairobi? Awesome! Connect with me (, and join the team planning the Dev School! We currently work from the iHub. Feel free to come visit and share your thoughts on Nairobi Dev School.

  • Feeling inspired? Move to Nairobi and help us set up! :D Nairobi is really cheap to live, and has awesome weather. Plus, you get to work with a motivated team on a great cause! Email or tweet me, and let's discuss this possibility! :D

  • Email me ideas you have about the school! How can I make the impact greater? How can we reach more programmers in East Africa? Want to start a Dev School in Kampala, Uganda? Tell us about it! We could work together! :)

  • You or your company can sponsor any of the things we need for the school. You can sponsor the space, internet connection, electricity, desks, chairs, laptops for students who are unable to acquire one, or any support service!

  • Are you a dev? Volunteer to mentor some of Nairobi Dev School attendees!

I am are really excited about creating this opportunity in Nairobi! I hope you can support me in enabling more people become better programmers.

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