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Arlene Mulder: The coding activist

Updated: Apr 23, 2019



Arlene Mulder @arlenemulder, is the Managing Director & Co-founder of the innovative NGO, WeThinkCode @wethinkcode, which is focussed on training tech talent on how to code through a tuition-free, full time, two-year programme at zero cost. The programme aims to address the shortage of coding skills in South Africa and achieves this through partnering with corporate sponsors who not only provide funding to the programme but also the opportunity for internship and eventually full-time employment. The programme is unique in that any South African between the ages of 17 and 35 can apply to the programme with no prior education requirements - the entry process uses a series of aptitude tests which test the ability to problem solve, an inherent skill that exists independently of your educational background. The innovative model uses peer-to-peer learning and regular projects as a basis for teaching students a number of different coding languages. WeThinkCode is modelled on a similar French school, 42, has campuses in Johannesburg and Cape Town and has been in operation for just over two years.

Arlene tells us that for the longest time she wished to be a doctor but that in her matric year, during a high school mathematics competition, she discovered her passion for solving hard problems. Whilst working as an investment banker, she met her co-founder, Camille Agon, and discovered that they both had a shared desire for wanting to do something impactful in the education space and not too long after, WeThinkCode was born.

We are inspired by Arlene’s commitment to solving a huge skills problem in an innovative manner, in a country where the basic education system is failing many through lack of access and opportunity - even more so in the face of where the world of work is headed in the long-term. Arlene tells us that she is addicted to buying books (not a bad “addiction” to have - we think!).


Featured artist: Robyn Richards @Robyn_alexandra93

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