May 27, 2022

It started with three: An Ishango mentor and a co-founder’s story

Every great idea starts with great people. Ishango was co-founded by three astounding people, who not only want to make an impact in the world but also want to start giving to others, to open doors for those that have the talent but not the space to develop it, and to become part of something else, something bigger.

Oliver is one of Ishango’s co-founders, he became part of the Ishango family in 2021 when he became a mentor for the Kigali fellowship in Rwanda, where he worked on six different data science projects. Starting his journey from mentor to co-founder.

Oliver is originally from Cape Town but has been living in Zurich since 2011. He is the tech lead at Ishango, having been on site for the first Ishango fellowship in Rwanda from September to November 2021. He has an academic background in Climate Science, spending much of his time applying supervised machine learning methods to select subsets of climate model simulations to improve prediction skills of rainfall and temperature extremes.

In 2018 he then decided to work in the industry as a Data Scientist at Credit Suisse for three and a half years, where he developed models to monitor client activity and help surface fraudulent behavior. 

“The experience in the bank was invaluable since I worked alongside very smart and ambitious people and learned a lot from them”. 

Around late 2021 he decided to push himself out of his comfort zone by taking 2-months of unpaid leave from the bank and volunteering with Ishango in Rwanda, where he supervised 12 fellows on 6 different Data Science projects for international host companies.

“Not only did I learn a lot from the wildly different projects, but I became good friends with many of the fellows.”

In mid-2022, he decided to leave his job at the bank and commit himself to Ishango, helping it scale by delivering on the different Data Science projects. He sees a lot of potential in Ishango – with the need for technical skills rapidly rising, remote work being sustainable, and Africa being relatively untapped in terms of talent. 

“Being in Rwanda for 2 months was immensely rewarding! I love coding, statistics, and teaching young and talented people – I want to do more or that in my life, so I decided to join the company”

To know more about Oliver’s experience as a mentor, you can go to this blog and read about it.