BeCode raises 2.5 Mio Euro to accelerate its social impact and become a leading tech education scale-up in Belgium

by Mar 5, 2021News

BeCode raises 2.5 Mio Euro to accelerate its social mission to grow today’s untapped talents into tomorrow’s best digital professionals. In just 4 years, BeCode successfully recruited and trained close to 1.500 job seekers from disadvantaged groups. A vast majority of them have found their way into a new career with the many companies that are at “war for talent” due to the shortage of digitally skilled employees. SFPI/FPIM, PhiTrust, Impact Capital, Change and Trividend now join the project, providing the required working capital to considerably grow the impact of this project in the coming years, ramping up to a cruising speed of 1.500 trainees per year by 2024.

The average unemployment rate increased to 6,5% across Belgium in the third quarter of 2020. For lower educated citizens, the number even goes up to 14%. On the labour market side, the study ‘Be The Change” carried out by Agoria, VDAB, Actiris and le Forem showed that the average desired level of digital skills is increasing everywhere and at least 300.000 job seekers will need to be reskilled as well as 4.5 Mio employees, in order to address the growing shortage in the labour market. Therefore as the digital transformation is raging on, the digital divide is being ripped wide open as 54% of all job seekers have insufficient digital skills and up to 75% of all low educated people have no to weak digital skills.

BeCode started bridging the gap between motivated job seekers and employers looking for talent in 2017 through proactively recruiting the most disadvantaged job seekers (low educated, long-term unemployed, immigrants, etc.) based on motivation only and providing them with a hands-on 7-month training bootcamp to become junior developers. Within 4 years time, BeCode successfully recruited and trained over 1.500 candidates, developed active partnerships with Bruxelles Formation, VDAB, Actiris and le Forem and expanded the training offer with more advanced training programs on Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity. A vast majority of graduates succeed in launching their new careers, thanks to active support from many industry leaders such as Telenet, Orange, Accenture, Microsoft, Cronos, Xylos, KPMG, Faktion, SAP, Alstom and many others.

The impact of the project is tangible for the hundreds of trainees and graduates, as exemplified by Kayalin, who suffered from a burn-out during her previous education efforts and reconstructed her professional path during the BeCode training. She described the experience as: “World-changing. The BeCode training is changing the world of the students who enroll. The vast majority of the participants are looking for a new job, sometimes even a first job, and BeCode helps you take the first step. You’ll learn a lot during the training, which adequately supports you in making the big turnaround.” Rebuilding self confidence is an important element in the BeCode approach. Aleksandra dropped out from school quite early and had to work in an unfulfilling job before joining the program and recently won her first hackathon! She claims “BeCode is also a great human adventure. We learn to work together, to fail together, to look for solutions, to rack our brains to solve a problem. Our class, and BeCode in general, is a bit like a big family.”

The corona crisis is increasing the sense of urgency to increase availability of sufficiently skilled people, while a large number of people are losing their jobs. BeCode wishes to accelerate its efforts, ramping up the training activities to a cruising speed of 1.500 trainees per year by 2024. Public investor SFPI/FPIM and private investors PhiTrust, Impact Capital, Change and Trividend have joined forces to support the project through this growth stage, providing 2,5 Mio Euro in working capital, thus turning BeCode into the biggest tech education scale-up in Belgium.

Public-private partnerships are crucial to a social impact project such as BeCode. «Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic has profound effects on key sectors like education and is reversing years of progress in this field. Our investment in BeCode was made with the intention to contribute to tackle the education gap, alongside a financial return. To that end, SFPI/FPIM acts as a trusted partner in boosting financially scalable impact enabling initiatives in Belgium like this one and helps companies like BeCode to become a reference in their industry. By building a strong and autonomous impact investing ecosystem in Belgium with private impact investors, SFPI/FPIM promotes long term sustainable economic and social prosperity contributing to the well-being of Belgian citizens.» Céline Vaessen, Chief Investment Officer at SFPI-FPIM.

BeCode was designed and developed in close collaboration with the French coding school Simplon. Phitrust, their French lead impact investor, will now also support the Belgian success story. « BeCode provides an innovative answer to the challenges of job insertion, with an exit employment rate of between 70 % and 80 % for graduates. While there are many coding training schools in Belgium, BeCode is clearly the one with the greatest social impact. Present in Brussels with the support of Belgian shareholders, we are proud to support its deployment, as we are currently doing in France with Simplon.» Olivier de Guerre Phitrust, President.

This funding round will enable BeCode to continue scaling up, allowing to grow the currently 50-strong team across its campuses in Antwerp, Brussels, Charleroi, Ghent and Liège and significantly increase the number of lives impacted by the project. « The BeCode team and partners are all clearly driven by the social mission of the project. We are therefore very excited by this opportunity to turn the startup with a proven track record into a sustainable scale-up and continue to be a thought leader on life-long learning and inclusive, competency-based human capital strategies.» Luc Wynant, Chairman BeCode.

BeCode is a next-generation ICT training center, active in 5 cities across Belgium. We provide training programs into digital technologies free of charge. The training targets job seekers and school drop-outs, with a high employment rate for graduates. Participants get an intensive 7-months training into web technologies and learn to build websites, web applications and hybrid mobile applications (apps). With advanced programs in Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, BeCode also supports more knowledgeable candidates. Since 2020, BeCode also started training “employees at risk” for companies willing to discover and develop the digital potential of their proper workforce, focusing once more on the most vulnerable candidates.

The Belgian Federal Holding and Investment company (Société Fédérale de Participations et d’Investissement / Federale Participatie- en Investeringsmaatschappij; SFPI/FPIM), created on November 1th, 2006, is the sovereign wealth fund of Belgium, driving long-term and sustainable economic and social prosperity. SFPI/FPIM, with the Belgian Government as its sole shareholder, acts as a trusted partner in helping Belgian companies to become a reference in their industry by providing smart capital solutions. In addition, SFPI/FPIM safeguards the long-term stability of the Belgian economy by contributing to the anchoring of strategic assets in both promising and established companies. SFPI/FPIM has about 14 bln in assets under management for the Federal State.

As an early impact fund management company created in Paris in 2003, Phitrust invests in order to support large listed companies to make their ESG practices improve (Phitrust Active Investors) – and innovative social enterprises to give them the financial and human resources to scale up and deploy their impact (Phitrust Partenaires). Two activities, one mission: to be a committed shareholder acting for the environmental and social transition of companies.

Phitrust Partenaires : By mobilizing private and institutional investors towards innovative, committed and inclusive entrepreneurial projects, we seek to mobilize around entrepreneurs a network of experts and committed investors who will support them over the long term in order to scale up their impact on society. More than 30 social enterprises are supported by our teams, including Simplon, LemonTri, Alenvi, La Varappe…. In Belgium, Phitrust already supports Ethical Property Europe (Mundo Lab), Lita.co, CoopMed and Namé Recycling. Phitrust Partenaires Europe is Phitrust Partenaires’ 2nd social impact investment fund. Launched in 2016 in partnership with the European Investment Fund, it is realizing with BeCode its 11th investment. This fund retains the same strategy as Phitrust Partenaires, the pioneer of French social impact funds.

Impact Capital is the impact investment holding founded by Piet Colruyt. Impact Capital wants to play a fundamental role in enabling and scaling up impact driven organisations. The holding starts from the conviction that we can tackle our current societal challenges and create positive societal impact by inspiring citizens and investing in innovative, impact driven, businesses.

Change is an impact investment fund managed and created by Crédal. The fund supports the development of social enterprises in Belgium and the European Union at a young stage of maturity that nevertheless have a viable business model and the capacity to grow profitably. Change supports social entrepreneurship projects in four areas: inclusion, responsible production & consumption, social mobility and social innovation.

Trividend is the Flemish Impact Fund for the social economy. Created in 2001 it is one of the first so-called impact funds in Belgium. Trividend believes in an inclusive society in which every talent finds a job in line with its capabilities. That is why Trividend finances and supports impact-oriented entrepreneurs with a clear vision. With funds, advice and access to our extensive network. Our investment focus is investing in companies that create social employment, complementary we invest in innovative social enterprises who contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

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