Zaio, Mvelo Hlope, UCT
Mvelo Hlophe, final year BCom PPE UCT student wants to upskill people through Zaio
  • Zaio was founded by UCT final year student, Mvelo Hlophe, who wanted to create an educational platform which people could use to upskill themselves.
  • The dream came true thanks to a friend who was trying to secure developer internships with little success.
  • The educational platform teaches people to code and assists them in getting placements for part-time jobs and internships at other start-ups.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.


You can learn to code with a new South African app - and it's free.

Zaio was founded by 21-year-old Mvelo Hlophe, who is a final-year BCom Politics, Philosophy and Economics student at UCT, and his friend, Thandolwethu Hlongwane.

Hlophe originally came up with the idea, and then approached Hlongwane, who was looking for a developer internship, but couldn't find one. The pair now run the platform with the help of fellow UCT students.

Zaio, Mvelo Hlope, UCT
Zaio teaches people looking to learn how to code or upskill themsevels free of charge

Zaio is a free online learning platform that teaches people to code and become developers themselves. The name comes from the word "Okuzayo", which means future in Nguni.

How it works:

Once registered on the platform, students go through four levels of training: from an introduction to the various elements of coding and web development, to practical tasks where they get to work on real-life projects at South African companies.

They are paid to work on these projects.

In recent months, Zaio participants worked on projects for Sanlam, the World Bank and Standard Bank. As a result, 56 users, including a petrol attendant from Stellenbosch, were placed in part-time developer jobs.

"This is perfect for people looking for employment as well as those looking to upskill themselves and become software developers," says Hlophe.

Following a "soft launch" at the end of last year, Zaio became official a month ago, and has signed up 1,000 students.

They will need to money to grow though. They have secured enough funding that will see them expand their service to five more universities across the country including the University of Western Cape (UWC), Wits and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) by the second half of the year.

Hlophe explains that the universities are a testing ground for the product before it can be rolled out en masse.

"Students on the campuses get the opportunity to test the product before we can invite people outside to come in and use it." This is so that they can test its capacity.

Hlophe says they are currently working on securing partnerships that will help them lower the bandwith of their site so that more people can afford to use it and not incur high data costs.

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