Zindi startup partners with Absa to provide the bank with data science skills

SOUTH AFRICA – Zindi, an online network of professional data science talent, has signed a partnership deal with Absa, to provide the big-four bank with data science skills, as it accelerates its banking offerings.

Zindi was established in 2018, with the aim of making data science and artificial intelligence (AI) skills accessible to companies on the African continent.

With a network of over 36 000 data scientists registered on the platform, from 150 countries around the world, Zindi helps data practitioners of all levels access tutorials and mentors to build their skills and virtually participate in data science competitions.

They are also able to apply for jobs using their CV on the Zindi platform.

The platform says it has upskilled over 22 000 data scientists since inception and is looking to partner with more corporates to help fill the huge shortage of data scientists on the continent.

“The Absa partnership aims to help them leverage innovative applications of machine learning and AI to solve business problems, and also to help them attract the best data science talent in the country,” Celina Lee, CEO and co-founder of Zindi, said.

“There is a severe shortage of data scientists in Africa and South Africa. Because data science is still a relatively new field in the country and region, the demand for talent is outpacing the supply. There is especially a gap in the supply and demand for mid-level and higher data scientists.”

Absa has signed partnership agreements with various companies, in a move to strengthen the bank’s digital roadmap through the use of emerging technologies.

Zindi is in the process of on-boarding other corporate partners to ensure they have access to data science solutions and talent.

According to Lee, the tech skills gap prompted Zindi to enable companies to recruit and search for talent directly from the Zindi database.

In 2020, it launched a recruitment platform, which matches companies and organisations with its network of over 36 000 data scientists registered on the platform.

Companies can also post real business problems on Zindi – from customer churn prediction to natural language processing in local African languages.

“Every month we launch about three new challenges on Zindi and our data scientists compete to solve these problems. This helps them to demonstrate their proven specialisations in different technical areas and it gives data scientists the opportunity to build up their skills,” added Lee.

Last month, Zindi announced it raised US$1 million in a funding round that was led by Shakti VC in San Francisco, California. Other investors include Launch Africa, Founders Factory Africa and five35.

“After the funding round, we are focusing on scaling the platform and introducing new features on Zindi that will improve the user experience and cater to data professionals of all levels. Our goal is to reach over one million data scientists by 2025,” concluded Lee.

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