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Back-end Course Designer

Skoll World Forum

Skoll World Forum

Software Engineering, Design
Posted on Wednesday, January 10, 2024

About Onja

Onja is a social enterprise training underprivileged youth into world-class software developers.

We find the brightest students in Madagascar who can’t afford to continue their education, and train them in English language and software development. After just two-and-a-half years they are ready to work as remote software developers in international tech teams.

Once in a job, our developers earn a good salary that helps them support their families and pay forward the opportunity to a new wave of students. They unlock exciting careers that fulfil their potential, and accelerate the development of their nation (see ‘How Onja Works’ below).

Our first cohort, ‘Wave 1’, consists of nineteen talented and committed graduates who are now working remotely for our partner companies in Europe and the US. With this immensely successful first cohort, and a proven social model, our goal is now to scale our impact: we aim to take on 360 new students over the next four years.

Our fast-growing team is very united, committed to the mission, and hardworking, but we also maintain a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere that you’ll find everywhere in Madagascar.

Onja is located in Toamasina, a lively city with beautiful beaches, nice restaurants, and with plenty to do and see. Toamasina is Madagascar’s second largest city (population 300,000) yet is surrounded by plenty of natural beauty, and even has a national park nearby.

About the Role

From 2020 to 2021 we developed and delivered a full-time course that allowed twenty students to progress from absolute beginners to industry-ready front-end software developers, and they are now all working in US/European tech teams remotely from Madagascar.

Our challenge now is to scale our organisation, bringing opportunities to hundreds, moving to thousands of students. An important part of this will be diversifying our tech stack and train back-end developers to work alongside our front-end developers. Your mission as our Back-End Course Designer is to rebuild this back-end course, from the ground up, into a highly scalable online-style programme.

Your responsibilities include:

  • Conducting preliminary research to determine which languages and technologies should be included in the course.
  • Finding existing online material and incorporating useful material into the course
  • Creating engaging video lectures, learning activities and course content
  • Collaborate with past Onja lecturers, incorporating their specific experience into your course design.
  • Deciding on the criteria used to assess students’ performance and develop assessments.
  • As we are a startup social enterprise there will likely be opportunities to wear many hats, contributing to other parts of the organisation.


  • Twelve month commitment (this ensures sufficient time to make a truly meaningful impact) with potential to renew/extend.
  • At least one year professional Back-End experience
  • Preferably three or more years of Back-End experience however a willingness to learn and grow in the role is most important to us.
  • An interest in teaching and course design.

What you can expect

  • You’ll join our tight-knit, committed team in Toamasina, Madagascar.
  • We know it’s a big move so we will look after you and make sure you are secure and settled.
  • Secure, comfortable accommodation is provided
  • Food is provided
  • We are able to offer a good local salary – enough to live comfortably and have plenty left over for holidays travels.
  • Unlimited annual leave. We recommend between 30 and 35 days as a guide, giving you time to explore the wonders of Madagascar
  • We also offer 25% remote work but this has potential to be increased depending on position and person
  • We’ll provide optional weekly lessons to bring you up to speed with the language.
  • Your visa will be sponsored.
  • Sponsored flights

Start date

We are ready for you now, but generally allow for two months from the time the contract is signed.

How Onja Works

Onja is a social enterprise with a sustainable model:

  • Search for brilliant minds who would otherwise be limited to low-paid, unfulfilling careers.
  • Students receive two years of English and software development instruction. Meet a developer here: https://onja.org/blog
  • Graduates earn (and continue learning) at our outsourcing enterprise.
  • All profits are used to train the next wave of students and the cycle begins again.

Application process

  • Please apply here.
  • Introductory call – We’ll provide you with a list of FAQs and a photo gallery and invite you to a call to learn about Onja and Madagascar in general. It’s a chance for us to learn more about you and for you to ask all the questions you might have.
  • Formal Interview – This is where we have questions for you. We try to determine whether you will be a nice fit for the position and our team. There may be one or two interviews.
  • We offer conversations with past and present staff members, Onja developers and a video tour of our campus.
  • We make a formal offer to successful applicants.

If you like what we are doing, but don’t think you are suitable for this position, please reach out to us nonetheless – we may just have something for you. Also, feel free to check out other open positions on our careers page.