“Let’s build a startup accelerator here in Jaffna,” they said. Entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka is on the rise after all. Startups are popping out of the woodwork and the successful ones are disrupting the market. But after a while, they realized that this was only in Colombo. Places like Jaffna have yet to hit that critical mass. As such, it made little sense to build a startup accelerator at this point of time. So they went back to the drawing board and said, “Let’s build a coding accelerator instead!” This time the outlook was more promising and so the Yarl IT Hub alongside the SERVE Foundation began taking their first steps to build Uki.
Uki is a coding accelerator in Jaffna run by the Yarl IT Hub alongside the SERVE Foundation. To understand the mission of Uki, one first needs to understand the problem that it aims to solve. Both the Yarl IT Hub and the SERVE foundation noticed that many students who passed their A/L’s and were passionate about IT were being left behind. The root cause of this was the lack of money to join a private institution to earn a degree, which prevented them from eventually joining the industry. Yet, the IT industry has an unending demand for labor. Thus, Uki was born to help these passionate students in Jaffna join the IT industry or build their own startup.
So how does it work? The program runs for a period of six months. Currently, the first intake of Uki has a small number students. When they initially opened applications, they found 43 applicants. Many of these applicants were women – the ones who needed it the most as they greatly lacked opportunities. Thus, after a long and rigorous selection process, the decision was made to accept 15 students into the first intake of Uki.
Over the course of the program, these 15 students will face lessons that cover four main areas. These four areas are:
The primary goal of this program is to ensure that students learn the skills corporates need. To that end, this syllabus is updated for each successive batch by a panel from the industry. Furthermore, they are signing up corporates and startups as partners and encourage their corporate partners to conduct workshops so that students know what’s required by the industry. Once the program ends, the Yarl IT Hub with its corporate partners, aims to give the students internship opportunities. The Yarl IT Hub shared with us that they’re seeking internships at the moment as they feel it doesn’t give the companies a heavy cost. Furthermore, the goal of Uki is to simply help its student take their first step into the IT industry – not become CEO’s of a Fortune500 company.
But how much does all this cost each student? Not a single penny. Every student that’s accepted into the program is done so on a scholarship. However, the Yarl IT Hub team constantly reminds them from Day 01 that Uki isn’t a free course. The students are told that someone else is bearing the costs to give them a chance to learn. Thus, it is their responsibility to get the fullest of this opportunity and help others enter the industry in the future.
The journey to build Uki was a long one that began early last year. Over the years, the Yarl IT Hub has been carrying out various initiatives as part of its mission to make Jaffna the next Silicon Valley. But they had become impatient and started brainstorming as to how they could speed up this process. They wanted to increase the number of startups. Thus, they thought of launching a startup incubator until they realized that it wasn’t solution. Then as members of the Yarl IT Hub began discussing things again over a Skype call, the idea for a coding accelerator was born.
A rough idea was in place, and with it a pitch deck was made. Armed with this pitch deck, they began looking for people to run the accelerator, a place to conduct classes, and creating a syllabus. This process was a rollercoaster of challenges. In the initial days, many people were asked to join and agreed to do so, but then suddenly disappeared later on. Similarly, just when they thought they had found the necessary funding to kick start the project, it too would suddenly disappear. Alas, even finding a proper location was a saga.
Fast forward one entire year and after a long string of failures the Yarl IT Hub finally had everything they needed to begin accepting students. They found the ideal location inside a building in Nallur, Jaffna. The British Council had come on board to teach English to the students. But most importantly, they had now found the right people to run Uki. These people were Vithushan Vijayaratnam – Director of Uki, Dharsika Paramasothy –Lecturer of the Program, and Mathangie Selvarajah – Managing Director of Noro Solutions as the mentor and coach for the students and other Yarl IT Hub volunteers contributing on part time basis. Once the people were in place, they shortlisted applicants and began lessons. Thus, Uki was born on the 17th of April 2017.
Currently, the Yarl IT Hub has a goal of ensuring that 80% of Uki students get an opportunity to enter the IT industry. It’s a daunting task, which has them tensed. Nonetheless, they’re pushing themselves to achieve this goal. As such, they’re doing everything they can to equip the students with everything they would need.
Uki is still in its early stages but it’s showing great promise. Thus, the Yarl IT Hub wants to scale it further. In the near future, the Yarl IT Hub hopes to increase the number of students to 20 or 25 students per class in two or three years. Furthermore, they want to have three locations where multiple batches of Uki students are taught. Eventually, they hope to produce 120 students per year and see the program duplicated across the island.
Needless to say, it’s a massive dream. Nonetheless, we have faith in the Yarl IT Hub because over the years they’ve taken many important steps to help build the startup ecosystem of the Northern Province. It might take a while for Uki to scale. But right now, this simple coding accelerator maybe the key needed to unlock the infinite possibilities of the IT industries for its passionate students that have nowhere else to go. And that, deserves respect. Hopefully, we will see Uki scale in the future and open up opportunities for even more passionate students in the coming years.
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Venture Frontier Lanka is bringing experts in entrepreneurship from around the country to cities throughout Sri Lanka to train local entrepreneurs to think differently about the ventures they will start.
Venture Frontier Lanka is bringing experts in entrepreneurship from around the country to cities throughout Sri Lanka to train local entrepreneurs to think differently about the ventures they will start. A caravan stop consists of different sessions about creating unique ideas for startup ventures and strategies for financing those ideas.
Come join the sessions on the 19th of December, starting with 2 pm at Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology.
The event is free of charge! REGISTRATION is mandatory for this event
(Wednesday) 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
SLIIT, New Kandy Road, Malabe
Early Bird till the 16th of Dec: 20% discount Likuid Members: 20% discount Female/Social Entrepreneurs (Locals Only): 50% discount Join for a one day workshop where we unchain the collective wisdom and creativity
Early Bird till the 16th of Dec: 20% discount
Likuid Members: 20% discount
Female/Social Entrepreneurs (Locals Only): 50% discount
Join for a one day workshop where we unchain the collective wisdom and creativity to help each other having a more productive digital nomad new year and build better cooperations for teamwork.
During this peer to peer learning session you can share your experiences to help others and learn from other practitioners. Together, dive into the most painful problems and brainstorm on solutions. It’s for you if you resonate with some of these questions:
How do I integrate work, life and travel?
How do I keep motivated to achieve?
How do I keep engaged with a client?
How do I manage my time and energy?
How do I get clients?
How do I find people to collaborate with?
How to deal with time differences?
How can I make human interactions with slack profiles?
How to set realistic goals in constantly changing environment?
What are the best tools & methods for productivity?
What’s the secret of aligned teams?
What are the best skills for a digital nomad?
ABOUT THE METHOD:
“We create space for meaningful conversations, experimental and peer to peer learning. Nothing frontal, no preaching. But space for your very unique questions.”
+ Full-day mentored learning program
+ Breakfast on the roof
+ BBQ lunch on the roof
+ Goodie bags & Take-home handbooks
+ Post-event networking
ABOUT THE HOST:
Kitti is a digital nomad herself and a marketing consultant for innovative companies and early stage startups. She is a conversation ambassador for tedxdanubia, hosted meaningful conversations on ideas worth spreading. In the past years she worked in self organized teams, practiced facilitation, joined peer to peer networks, decentralized teams and cocreated a collective of freelancers. She is a cofounder of a sustainability startup that just secured its first round of investment. Worked as a mentor for many startups, and in the meantime she visited more than 15 countries.
Are you a Sri Lankan female entrepreneur or a local social business? Reach out for your discounted tickets!
PRICE IN SRI LANKAN RUPEES:
Regular: LKR 5000
Early Bird till 16th of Dec: LKR 4000
Likuid Members: LKR 4000
Female/Social Entrepreneurs (Locals Only): LKR 2500
(Saturday) 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
5 Charles Place 00300 Colombo, Sri Lanka
Karthik ( Associate Director, DTCC & Co-organiser of Hyperledger Chennai Meetup) will be here for the 2nd Hyperledger meetup. He will share his experience with Hyperledger and Business application of Blockchain
Karthik ( Associate Director, DTCC & Co-organiser of Hyperledger Chennai Meetup) will be here for the 2nd Hyperledger meetup.
He will share his experience with Hyperledger and Business application of Blockchain technologies.
1. Work with Hyperledger Fabric and Explorer.
2. Business use case with Hyperledger Blockchain Framework
3. Q&A session
This is a Free session. Register here
(Friday) 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Startup X Foundry
07, Charles Place, Colombo 03, Colombo
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