Fintech project built by Holberton School Lebanon’s Students

Opened in March 2020, Holberton School Lebanon is offering to students with prior knowledge in programming to specialize in Machine Learning, Web React, or Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies via our Specialization programs. The school, which has strong connections to local companies, gives students the opportunity to connect with industry professionals to use their tech skills for project collaboration.

Beirut’s startup Cedar Oxygen has offered two Holberton School Lebanon students, Rana El Khoury and Mohsen Abdelaal, the opportunity to work on a Fintech platform: a P2P FX platform to match the Supply and Demand of Dollars.

beirut lebanon student holberton school
Rana El Khoury and Mohsen Abdelaal, Holberton Lebanon Machine Learning students

The objective of this platform is to:

  1. Facilitate access to fresh dollars to address industrialists’ financing needs;
  2. Offer a transparent supply/demand backed FX rate to the industrialists;
  3. Engage the Lebanese diaspora through a remittance platform to support the actual economy in Lebanon.

While Rana previously had some knowledge and skills in programming, she believes that Holberton School helped her brush up on these skills and filled the gaps in her knowledge. 

On the other hand, Mohsen is an Electrical Engineer who is passionate about software programming and is determined to become a successful software engineer; to him, what really matters is how to write clean and efficient code.

For both of them, the Holberton School opportunity became possible thanks to the support of the Lebanese International Finance Executives (LIFE), which provided them with a scholarship that covers the full costs of the program.

Rana and Mohsen were both interested in this project because they felt that they could help their country to solve a major economic crisis. 

After 2 months of work, the project was shipped: Cedar Oxygen’s internal algorithm now calculates the provided FX Rate. The Corporate and the Lebanese diaspora can directly access the platform through Cedar Oxygen’s website, using a unique login and submitting  FX needs to buy or sell US dollars. 

Mohsen found the project challenging since he needed to meet the client’s requirements while delivering excellence on the technical side. This gave him tremendous experience and allowed him to enhance his soft skills. He says “Always work hard, practice, and dream big to reach and achieve your goals in life.” 

Cedar Oxygen was delighted by the work done by Rana and Mohsen and offered them both a full-time opportunity upon their successful graduation.

To know more about Cedar Oxygen P2P FX platform project, visit this website.

The Future of Holberton

Holberton’s mission is to provide high-quality education for the many. With Holberton School, we provide employment-focused education to help address the world’s critical shortage of software engineers while making the tech world more inclusive. 

We started Holberton School in 2016 with a campus in San Francisco. Our methodology, curriculum, and platform – developed in close cooperation with Silicon Valley experts – trained students who were in turn hired by some of the world’s best tech companies such as Apple, Tesla, and LinkedIn. Wanting to make our education more widely accessible, we began expanding in 2018 by opening additional campuses. Holberton School today has a network of campuses that spans five continents across the globe.

This expansion was made possible by working with amazing local partners who operate the campuses and deeply understand their markets’ unique needs. By leveraging our Silicon-Valley grade education, they have provided their local economies with highly-skilled software engineers while democratizing access to the tech industry for their local population. They are changing, for the better, many lives.

While Holberton Inc. started as a school, our focus is now to empower our partners to provide the best experience to their students by continuously improving our platform and curriculum. To better achieve this mission, Holberton Inc. is exiting the operation of Holberton School campuses as a business. Therefore we have decided not to reopen our San Francisco campus, which closed in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic and CA regulations preventing us from enrolling remote students.

Holberton Inc. will remain in San Francisco; we will continue to build our curriculum and platform by working with industry experts based in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs. We will continue to act as a gateway between Silicon Valley and all the local tech ecosystems our partners are building. We believe this is the best formula for serving Holberton School’s international community.

While the decision to close the San Francisco campus was not an easy one, we are excited to focus our efforts on further developing the ‘operating system of education’ and supporting current and future partners in delivering high-quality education to students worldwide.

Montevideo Campus Inaugurated by Uruguay’s Minister of Labor and the Subsecretary of Education

Holberton School Uruguay, alongside Fundación Zonamerica, hosted a ceremony to celebrate the inauguration of its Montevideo campus in Jacksonville – which welcomed its first cohort in September.

Fundación Zonamerica’s mission is to develop and promote innovative training programs and cultural activities that allow people to learn new skills that will enable them to work for the most prestigious and internationalized companies in Uruguay.

Holberton School Uruguay campus

Uruguay Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Pablo Mieres, emphasized the role played by Zonamerica and the foundation about training Uruguayans.

“The initiative of creating a Holberton School in Uruguay is a reaffirmation of a fundamental value of the country, which is having people always create innovative ideas. The experience of this establishment in Uruguay is a symbol that shows the way forward in the right direction to follow between training and employment for a wealthy, state-of-the-art country that looks toward the future.”

Uruguay lacks tech talent; while the country graduates 800 software engineers per year, companies need 2,500 of them. Therefore companies have to train internally or hire abroad. The tech sector is adding $1.7B to the economy every year.

“We do not have a digital gap in the sense of infrastructure, since we can count on fiber optics, a submarine cable, a data center, the Ceibal program, which are the base to continue building starting from them. That is why I welcome and congratulate this project because I consider that these types of initiatives, from the public and private sector, have to continue blooming”. Said Carolina Cosse, elected Governor of Montevideo.

The ceremony and campus were video-recorded via drone

The ceremony – that followed all sanitary precautions – was attended by The first lady of Uruguay, Lorena Ponce de León; Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Pablo Mieres; Fundación Zonamerica President and Vice-President, Alberto Fossati and Orlando Dovat; Executive director of Holberton School in Montevideo, Inés Jakubovski; Elected Mayor of Montevideo, Carolina Cosse; the Subsecretary of Education Ana Ribeiro and the President of the Uruguayan Chamber of information technology (CUTI), Leonardo Loureiro as well as other governmental authorities, foundation leadership, business chambers, companies, and Holberton School students.

Holberton School arrives in Peru!

Welcome Holberton School Peru! While Peru is known for its Machu Picchu’s stunning views – it is also one of Latin America’s fastest-growing startup scenes. In 2018, Peru attracted more impact-investment capital than Mexico, a long-time leader in the region. In 2019 a new record was set for the amount of capital invested into local startups, with a 24% increase compared to 2018. Before the pandemic, Peru already had a deficit of 17,000 software engineers, a number estimated to grow dramatically due to COVID-19 acceleration on digital transformation. 

This acceleration will affect all industries as stated by Juan Carlos Tassara, Edifica Executive Director:

“The real estate, as well as other traditional industries, increasingly need to introduce new technologies to differentiate themselves. Holberton’s proposal prepares the talent that Peru needs in a fast and innovative way, talent that will drive the country’s digital transformation.” 

Holberton School comes to Peru in alliance with social entrepreneurs Valery Vargas and Gabriel Bedoya. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus will first open as a remote program providing its education entirely online; facilities will open in Lima as soon as possible.

To help make Holberton’s education financially accessible, multiple ways to finance tuition will be available: upfront payment, monthly payments, loans, or Income Share Agreements. Also, scholarships will be offered. 

“For the first cohort, and because we know how this pandemic has impacted thousands of students that had to stop their careers, we will offer 15 full-tuition scholarships,” says Holberton School Peru Co-founder Valery Vargas.

The school will begin welcoming its first cohort of students in January 2021. Check out the Holberton School Peru campus page to learn more!

How a Foundation turned Tulsa into a startup city

Experimenting, catalyzing, and risk-taking for big goals are essentials for every Silicon Valley entrepreneur; they are also for Ken Levit, Executive Director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) – a philanthropic organization based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The city, long known for being the Oil Capital of the World, is in the process of re-inventing itself to renew the shininess of the early 20th century.

George Kaiser is a Tulsa-native who led the energy family business to be highly successful. But as the city’s pivotal role in the energy industry eroded, dragging its economy along, he created a foundation to give back and help his community with the mission of focusing on early childhood education as a way of interrupting the cycle of poverty and, more broadly, to give equal opportunity to all.

GKFF achieves that mission by focusing on three main pillars: talent, economic opportunities, and city life quality. Levit chose to drive the foundation with a startup mindset “philanthropy can be good at trying new things, having a high-risk tolerance for failing, and if it’s a flop, we can try something else!”.

By partnering with Foundry College, Tulsa expects to provide talent that the U.S. economy needs. Their program management curriculum prepares students to accept one of the 22 million jobs that should be created by 2027. At the same time, the college Salesforce Administrator program targets the 400k jobs expected by 2022. Michael Basch, the managing partner at Atento Capital, estimates that students graduating from the Salesforce program will be able to find remote jobs paying up to $65,000 a year. Atento Capital and GKFF partnered to offer both programs for free – each valued at $6,000 – to local students. 

The foundation also partnered with us, Holberton School, a software engineering program training Silicon Valley grade developers. With campuses on five continents, our graduates are getting hired by the world’s top companies like Apple, Tesla, Rappi, and LinkedIn. Students don’t pay their tuition until they find a job. For the Tulsa campus, GKFF is sponsoring a $1,500/month need-based living assistance for students. The unemployment rate in computer-related occupations dropped from 3 percent in January to 2.5 percent in May. The pre-pandemic U.S. economy had 918,000 unfilled IT jobs and included the suspension of H-1B visas. Individuals using these visas had been used to fill many openings in computer-related professions. With these changes, the market for software talent is expected to be hot.

Levit explains that while “the world of economic development is focusing on recruiting companies, by throwing money and tax incentives at them,” they wanted to take a different approach that is about people. On top of upskilling the locals, GKFF is investing in attracting outside talent. The Tulsa Remote program offers to anyone who wants to move and work from Tulsa a $10,000 stipend, a desk in a co-working space, and help to find a home. The results are just astonishing: they received over 20,000 applications with thousands of additional candidates currently in the pipeline. Since the program started in 2018, 250 people have moved to Tulsa with a 95% retention rate, leading to the purchase of 40+ homes. The program attracts high-quality talent and provides an average salary of over $100k. These statistics are not surprising, considering these remote workers are working for top companies like Cisco, ADP, Deloitte, IBM, and Microsoft.

The city itself is starting to attract the interest of leading businesses. Tulsa was among the top two choices for Tesla’s next facility, competing with Austin. A talent pipeline development leader working for Google told Basch that the company would consider opening offices in the city once they could provide 500 software engineers, a goal that he hopes to achieve soon with the help of Tulsa University and Holberton School.

But that’s not it. Levit also wants its fellow neighbors to enjoy life in Tulsa and is looking to have a “culture, stimulation, a rich and vibrant life.” Among many projects, The Gathering Place park, which Basch describes as “Disneyland meets Central Park,” is the most distinctive. A 100-acre green space developed with a half-billion-dollar investment, featuring entertainment for kids and adults.

The pair recognize that there is still a lot to be done and that the city’s economy – still mainly driven by oil, gas, and aerospace – faces significant challenges made worse by the pandemic. But they also believe that it is a turning point for the local economy. COVID-19 has drastically increased the number of companies willing to let their employees work remotely. They are now also considering hiring remotely, where talent can be cheaper than in the megalopolis. Basch thinks that NYC, with Michael Bloomberg, was “the MVP city for 2001 to 2010,” followed by Texas for 2011 to 2020. He believes that Tulsa is strategically placed for the decade to come.

Learn more by listening to Holberton Co-founder Sylvain Kalache interviewing GKFF’s Ken Levit and Michael Basch.

Holberton School is coming to Ecuador!

Holberton School is opening in Ecuador in alliance with BuenTrip Hub, the local incubator for technology startups. Ecuador’s tech scene has been drastically growing in the last few years. The country, which had 70 tech startups in 2018, is now counting 250 of them according to BuenTrip’s Radar Tech Startup study. All are looking for highly-qualified software engineers. The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently reported that e-commerce, software development, and IoT were the top industries for Ecuador’s job creation.

Carmen de la Cerda, director of BuenTrip Hub, says, “Holberton will provide Ecuador students with world-class training. Access to this knowledge and skillset is indispensable because it will empower our local talent, opening doors for them to become technologists and innovators.”

Holberton School Ecuador’s first online cohort will begin in January 2021, synchronizing with the school’s network of campuses located in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. To help make Holberton’s Silicon Valley-grade education financially accessible, tuition can be paid either upfront or in monthly payments. Applications are open to individuals over the age of 18, coming from any educational background. To learn more about Holberton School Ecuador, visit the Ecuador campus page!

Mary Gomez: from chemical engineering to programming

Mary Luz Gómez is a 36-year-old chemical engineer who worked for ten years on innovation as a product and project leader. One year ago, she quit her job at Kimberly Clark to pursue her new dream: becoming a Machine Learning developer. 

mary gomez medellin cohort 10 holberton colombia

Mary is a disciplined woman with clear goals and a persevering personality. When working for Kimberly Clark, she learned about technologies such as Machine Learning and Data Science. Mary remembered enjoying her programming classes back in college and knew this path was her future.

While looking for study options, she realized that traditional education was not right for her because she learned much better with practical projects. During her research, Mary found out about Holberton school’s project-based learning methodology and was drawn to it because she felt “Holberton is very similar to how we work in companies.” 

Mary found the admission process fun because it challenged her to learn new things. She barely knew anything about programming and had never made a website, but she passed and started the program in September 2019. 

“I didn’t want to be left with the question of What if I’m a programmer? I was passionate about innovation and technology, so I decided to do it,” she remarked.

The first day in school was difficult: she remembers crying when she realized the day was over, and she still hadn’t been able to do the assigned project, but she knew the idea was not to give up. Her peers were always there to help, and she is grateful for it.

mary gomez medellin cohort 10 holberton colombia
Cohort 10 students, Holberton Medellín.

One of the reasons that led her to choose Holberton was its Income Share Agreement (ISA) payment model: “I found it very inclusive. I will be delighted to give every cent after I graduate with the guarantee that someone else will have the opportunity to study,” Mary said. 

While finishing the first part of the curriculum last June, Mary had the opportunity to work with Skillshare for her final project at Holberton. After starting the Machine Learning specialization, the company decided to hire her as a Software Engineer. So she decided to seize this great opportunity and paused the Specialization for the moment.

“I don’t have a plan for the long term, but I like to bet on what I’m passionate about. Today I have a new career and new goals. My next step is to finish the Machine Learning specialization and continue to challenge myself,” concludes Mary. 

Holberton School Colombia was the first international campus that opened in Bogotá in 2019 with 50 students. Since then, it has grown to three more cities: Medellín, Cali, and Barranquilla and now it counts more than 700 students in Colombia. You can join one of the campuses for January 2021: Applications are open!

The Holberton School Hauts-de-France campus is opening!

We are thrilled to announce the opening of the Holberton School Hauts-de-France (HDF) campus! Following Holberton School France online opening last August, this new campus, founded by Benjamin Dhellemmes, entrepreneur linked with the local Tech ecosystem, and Benoit Denot, former COO/CFO in healthcare and digital companies, is strategically located at Europe’s crossroads. The HDF region and Lille metropolis host more than 70 retailer headquarters like Decathlon, Kiabi, and Auchan. But also 17 startups incubators as well as 160 e-companies like OVHcloud, aDvens, and Showroom-prive.

“Hauts-de-France is home to the most successful retailers in Europe, and a flourishing startup ecosystem,” Says Holberton School HDF Co-founder Benoit Denot “Holberton School Hauts-de-France will train a diverse and Silicon Valley grade workforce that the local companies need.“

The campus is partnering with local investors, hiring companies, and tech communities, among which are: EuraTechnologies (one of Europe largest startup incubator), Jezby Ventures (OVHcloud Founder Octave Klaba’s fund), ÏDKIDS Group (a major French retailer), Vade Secure (global leader in predictive email defense), the French Tech community and many more.

Holberton School Hauts-de-France

“Tech ecosystems are growing all over France, we were impressed by Hauts-de-France region’s one,” Says Holberton Co-founder & President Sylvain Kalache “it is in this type of dynamic and vibrant communities that Holberton School shines.”

Holberton brings Silicon Valley grade education to an already robust education ecosystem. The Hauts-de-France region is where most French engineers are trained, with over 30 Grandes Ecoles and six universities. Due to COVID-19, the school will provide its education entirely online from January 2021. A physical campus will open as soon as the pandemic allows. Start your application today.

Welcoming Grammy award-winning producer Alcover to our Board of Trustees

We are honored to welcome Alcover to the Holberton Board of Trustees! Milton J. Restituyo, better known as Alcover, will contribute toward Holberton’s mission to increase access to tech education with a focus on the Hispanic community. 

The Latin Grammy award-winning producer is also a singer and influencer in Hispanic pop culture. Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, Alcover’s interest in music was sparked at an early age thanks to his father, a singer and multi-instrumentalist. After making the decision to move to New York, he took the first steps in commencing his musical career, enlisting his high school classmate Juan Abreu “Xtassy” as his creative partner. Together the two formed the award-winning production duo A&X, positioning themselves among the best producers in New York City’s urban scene.

Grammy award-winning producer Alcover

“Pop culture allows us to see what is needed now and what is important in our communities. It has enabled me to use my voice in an uplifting and encouraging way.  Music, art and technology that is created and distributed by ethnic and socioeconomic diversity helps create unity and accessibility,” said Alcover. “Holberton provides to any students, including the ones from disenfranchised communities, access to education in tech, and gives them a way out. I want more people to leverage the Holberton opportunity. Tech companies are seeking diverse, and motivated software engineers to drive them towards the future,“ he added. 

Join us in welcoming Alcover to the Holberton community!

From delivering packages to writing code for unicorn startup Rappi

Kevin Giraldo is a 21-year-old Holberton School Colombia student from district 8 of Medellín, a low-income neighborhood with an average household income of US $135 per month. He grew up in a low-income family. Kevin occasionally worked with his father in a manufacturing company and understood that education was the way to have a better future. He discovered programming in high school and convinced his parents to buy him a computer, promising that this was the key out of their situation. Kevin recently started fulfilling that promise.

At fourteen, as he witnessed his teacher automating the voting process at school, using code, he understood that he wanted to be a programmer. “It was a straightforward case, but since I didn’t have any programming knowledge at the time, I found it very interesting”.

Kevin decided to switch from his high school to one that would offer programming classes. He continued to pursue his dream to become a developer by enrolling in a computer engineering undergraduate degree while working as a Rappi delivery to make some money on the side.As he was working, Kevin received a message from Rappi about Holberton School. A Silicon Valley software engineering program was opening in Medellín. Registration was closing the next day, and he decided to meet the deadline and apply. As he was going through the application process, Kevin thought he would never be good enough to be accepted into the program.

Kevin started his training at Holberton in September 2019 and recalled that one of his biggest challenges was having to comment on his code in English. However,  “the fact of not having teachers and having to do projects among ourselves [the classmates] made us very autonomous and independent.”

Because Holberton’s program was very intense, Kevin decided to only do delivery work on weekend nights, as he was one of the students who could not go to sleep until he finished the entire project.

For the final part of the training, Holberton partnered with tech startups Rappi, Kiwi, Ubidots, Skillshare, and Torre so that students could develop a final project that would solve these companies’ needs. Each company presented its challenges and provided mentoring through its engineers. That is how Kevin, together with two classmates, developed a crowd lending platform so people could obtain a loan to get the necessary tools to work as Rappi drivers.

Rappi was so impressed by Kevin’s project that they offered him a software engineering job.

The 21-year-old programmer’s goal is to stand out with his performance at Rappi and to grow within the company. He also wants to create a programming community at El Pinal school, located in Enciso neighborhood (District 8 of Medellín), where he studied most of his basic training.

“As my family is low-income, my ambition was always to get out of here and grow. It is not hating or being ashamed of my roots, but wanting to grow and help my family, my friends and my community”.

Kevin Giraldo