CoLab Kaduna: Growing a community of IT Experts

CoLab is Kaduna’s first innovation hub and co-working space. The goal at CoLab is to grow a collaborative community of programmers, developers, designers, bloggers, graphic designers, photographers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and tech enthusiasts generally.

CoLab organizes some weekly and monthly events and programs to achieve these goals. Some of them include:

We want to attract attention back to Kaduna through technology - @CoLab_kd Click To Tweet

Code School

Code School is CoLab’s introduction to computer programming initiative that immerses users into the world of programming for the web with an introduction to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The whole course takes 5-7 weeks to complete and students are able to build simple sites upon completion.

Code School is built around the hypotheses that:

  • It is much easier to learn as a group as against learning as an individual.
  • It is important to learn how to code as part of a team. (This is a critical skill-set that employers look for.)

CoLab for Women

CoLab for Women is a platform that serves as a means to drive the adoption of technology by women and will also be a safe space for any sort of discussion among women.

This particular initiative is organized and run by women only. It has its meet ups once every month.

CoLab Elite

This is CoLab’s talent accelerator program which has been designed to fast-track intermediate developers into world-class talent.

If you already write code but keep wondering how to build projects, work with teams or follow global best practices, then CoLab Elite just might be what you need.

CoLab Weekly meetups

Meetups happen every weekend at CoLab where we cover topics that range from basic to very technical. They are usually free for all to attend.

If you want to learn about business, web or app development, machine learning, digital marketing, network or just play video and board games, you should attend one of our CoLab meetups.

If you would love to be a part of the awesome CoLab community, you can connect with CoLab on social media. Everyone and anyone is welcome to take a tour of the facilities anytime or attend any of the meetups.

Three things inspired CoLab:


1. Kaduna is ideal for a startup/technology hub. On the average, there is the better power supply in Kaduna than anywhere else in the country. The cost of living is low and basic infrastructure is available.

Another good thing about that region is that fast internet is esily accesible. Kaduna has a lot of talented young people. The state also has a number of tertiary institutions (which are an important factor in creating a pipeline for talent). It is also in close proximity to two key markets (Kano and Abuja) and can access a third, Lagos via air and train (for people and goods respectively).

2. Over time, the best IT people we had come across – programmers, network engineers, big data scientists, Internet of Things (IoT) hobbyists etc have been from around Kaduna.

However, very few of them understood the value of the skill(s) they had or had ever tried to apply it to solving actual problems.

3. Technology is the single biggest vehicle for taking people out of poverty and poverty in these part of the country is rampant.

CoLab intends to make this push by aiming to achieve 5 things:


1. Provide an environment that allows natural curiosity, fosters learning, and inspires creativity and innovation. CoLab has gone all out to make the space as aesthetically motivating as possible within budget constraints.

Given the right environment, smart people interacting with each other naturally tend to create cool stuff -@CoLab_kd Click To Tweet

Currently, CoLab’s facilities include two open indoor workspaces, a private meeting room, a conference room, two Outdoor workspaces (in view), internet, constant power supply and a modern library with paper books and kindles.


2. Offer high-level mentorship from both national and international mentors who have made an impact globally. The founders of CoLab believe a well-rounded education is a key to building a successful company.  They want to double down on not just ICT knowledge, but also everything required to succeed.

We currently have the ex-Director of Global Search at Yahoo as one of our international mentors, also the former Vice President of an Investment bank in the UK as another. Some of these mentorships and one on one sessions with mentors outside the country will take place virtually.


3. Train anyone interested in the ICT skills that are necessary to compete at an international level. We’re talking Code, UI & UX Design, Blogging, Content Creation, Digital Marketing, IoT etc. CoLab will cover recent tech languages and global best practices.

There is a high demand for these specific skills across the world, yet we have many who could easily fit into such positions, with some training. Most of these roles can be filled remotely, i.e having people work for companies across the world from CoLab… However, we are not pushy about them remaining domiciled here.


4. Beyond training, CoLab intends to go a step further by linking its community members with jobs and opportunities, both remote and physical from across the country and globally.

The best way to break the mentality that the only way to earn a living is via a structured, salaried job (civil service, banks, etc.) which is prevalent in this region is to actually link people up with an alternate means to earn a living.


5. Lastly, CoLab wants to build an in-house team of the best brains to tackle national and global problems. We want to attract attention back to Kaduna and show people how to be profitable through technology.

Our subscription fees were decided by the public and have no bearing on what it’ll cost to set up fully.

The long-term goal is to make Kaduna as a whole, an IT hub, the go-to place in Nigeria when there is an IT need. Who knows? It may be the next India. 

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Lessons from Hadiza Bala-Usman: Why your active participation matters

Attendees with Hadiza Bala Usman (Founder, Bring Back our Girls + Chief of Staff to Kaduna State Governor)-2

Speaking up isn’t easy. For most of us, when there are problems in our community or society, we respond passively because we expect someone else to do something about it.

Hadiza Bala-Usman has stepped up and used her voice to advocate on behalf of women, children, her community and country.  A Nigerian activist and politician, she currently serves as the Chief of Staff for the Kaduna State government and is one of the leading voices for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, organising protests on behalf of the families of the kidnapped girls.

At SheHive Abuja, Mrs. Bala-Usman spoke about her career in public service, why she joined it, and how to get people to care about issues that they rather ignore. She expressed that her passion to speak on behalf of people who do not have the opportunity to speak for themselves was birthed from childhood and her desire to live a life that is beyond herself.

She recognised early in life that one doesn’t have to be in ideal situations and positions to add significant value to the society. When the BBOG movement started it did not have a formal structure or strategic plan in place to guide activities, what it did have was a group of people with different skill sets who were willing and passionate enough to congregate and make things work.

Here are some of the lessons we can learn from Hadiza Bala-Usman’s story as an active public servant and advocate.

Get involved with the process

The best way to influence positive change is to make the nitty gritty details that add up to an issue our business.

Using the #BringBackOurGirls movement as an example, she stated that the flawed system of government made it easy for the girls to be kidnapped and finding ways to publicly hold them accountable helped move things forward . It took emails, a series of street marches and social media campaigns for the government of the day to take the situation seriously.

It is one thing to admit there is a problem, another thing to wish for a solution but what really effectuates change is your commitment and involvement in the process.

Keep perspective

It takes little effort to be fatigued and overwhelmed when we do not achieve the desired results from our advocacy endeavors. Hadiza Bala-Usman shared that one way to find inspiration to keep going is to look beyond the immediate results and realities surrounding our work.

Using the #BringBackOurGirls movement as an example, she said that the rescue of the  girls is of utmost importance. However, the campaign has also influenced government policies around the girl child such as early marriage, economic empowerment and access to education.

Furthermore, families that are directly affected have found comfort in the fact that there are people in direct contact with the government who are speaking and fighting on their behalf.

You can add value

Because of the stereotypes women are expected to fit into, most women believe that what they have to offer will add little or no significant value to the big issue.

She emphasized that it is little individual contributions that add value to the bigger goal and encouraged that what matters is the quality your engagement not the quantity.

The take away is this: There is a lot you can do. Resist the temptation to be a spectator in your community and challenge yourself to seek creative ways to add value to people. Move from passive to active, from an onlooker to a participant, your contribution matters.