Engineering Team at Angaza

Angaza is a for-profit social enterprise based in San Francisco, California and Nairobi, Kenya with operations across Africa and South Asia. Through partnerships with manufacturers and distributors, Angaza’s hardware and software platform enables end-consumers to pay for clean energy devices in an affordable manner, over time.

Job Openings at Angaza

Top Engineering Values

Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
  • Heavily Team Oriented

    Loosely coupled, tightly knit collectives

    Angaza’s collectives are small groups of 2 to 4 engineers, some with a product manager additionally attached, focused on a single set of engineering concerns. For example, one collective is dedicated to straight ahead roadmap features, while another focuses on devops issues.


    Each collective has a high degree of autonomy, physically sits together, and owns their internal lightweight processes. This means that each collective determines what time they’ll have daily standups and how they manage their own workloads and deliverables. Across collectives, there is a high degree of communication to coordinate cross-cutting concerns or dependencies, where one collective’s deliverable may affect another’s operations, e.g.


    Every quarter, engineers choose their own adventure, rotating onto the collective of their choice (within business constraints, of course). This structure allows for a few interesting features:

    • Engineers choose “new” colleagues every quarter, strengthening relationships and learning to work with a diverse set of styles.
    • Early-career engineers gain broad exposure not only to our entire platform, but also the different flavors of specializations within the larger tech industry, while senior engineers get opportunities to lead projects that are either entirely in their wheelhouse… or a stretch.

    Overall, our collective system is working well for our engineering team, but we’re not dogmatic about it. If and when we need to iterate on our internal organization, we’ll happily do it again.

  • EQ > IQ

    Angaza engineering culture = rigor + empathy

    Building solid software for our users and their typical operating environments requires equal parts rigor and empathy. The majority of our users:

    • Use phones that cost less than $50
    • Have 2G internet connections at best, and pay for them by the MB
    • Are independent entrepreneurs, some multitasking across multiple small businesses
    • May have to travel hours (or days), on foot or by bus, to attend training

    Without empathy, we would make the wrong technical decisions resulting in a poor user experience. Without rigor, we would not be able to implement our decisions properly, wasting our users’ time and money, even via the simple act of downloading a bugfix.


    All Angazans, from interns to senior VPs, must successfully pass the cultural section of our interview process where we screen specifically for empathy and other components of EQ, which we believe is a hard skill, required to compete successfully in our markets.


    Finally, all Angazans are encouraged to make field visits to East Africa to gain an appreciation for our users’ daily lives. Whether it’s working out of our office in Nairobi or riding a boda in Burundi to observe training, these optional visits help connect your day to day work to actually improving people’s lives.


  • Open Communication

    Candid feedback, given respectfully, accepted seriously

    Since our earliest days, Angaza has straddled an ocean. The challenges of keeping our San Francisco and Nairobi teams in sync have shaped our culture into one where we actively and explicitly practice open communication both across the entire company and fractally, within each smaller team.


    From monthly all-hands (with video chat linking our two offices) to regularly scheduled office hours held by our three co-founders (where any topic is fair game); from bi-weekly internal, written newsletters to quarterly desk shuffling, we put a lot of energy into ensuring the right conversations are happening between the right people.


    Within the engineering team, much of our written communication comes in the form of PR comments. We provide thoughtful, constructive comments for our colleagues, while keeping bike-shedding and rubber-stamping to a minimum, and we foster an environment where every engineer, no matter their tenure, feels not only empowered to comment, but also feels truly listened to.


    In cases of fundamental disagreements, whatever the decision, our style is to ensure that the cost of course correction is not prohibitively expensive, document the discussion, and then defer to the individual or team with the most at stake.

  • Committed to Personal Growth

    Senior engineers are servant leaders

    Angaza believes so strongly in mentorship that we deliberately scale our hiring rate to our mentoring capacity. If we feel we can’t provide the proper support for our engineers to grow into confident and independent colleagues, then we’ll dial back until mentoring bandwidth increases again.


    As you can see, we expect a lot from our senior engineers. Not only must they be strong technically, but they must also be able and willing to help grow the next crop of leaders. In return, senior engineers have the opportunity not only to hone their own technical skills (spearheading our most challenging projects), but also level up their leadership skills, and convert to a management track if so desired. And while it so happens that our senior engineers each average ~15 years of industry experience, it’s demonstrated depth and breadth that we care about, not length of tenure.


    From individuals pairing on a specific problem to our bi-weekly engineering practicum led by our CTO, our culture is infused top to bottom with a commitment to helping engineers maximize their rates of personal growth.

  • Team is Diverse

    Building for the bottom billion

    Our products are all about eliminating global poverty by making life-changing products available to anyone, anywhere. We’re intimately familiar with lack of opportunity for structural reasons, and are committed to removing and countering bias in our hiring practices, with specific checks in place to ensure candidates from underrepresented backgrounds are evaluated fairly.


    While we have never performed a formal diversity survey, we have performed a simpler gender survey whose results we can share:

    • ⅔ of our co-founders are women
    • 5/9 of our Directors are women
    • ¼ of our software engineering team members are women

    We don’t care about pedigrees. Engineers on our team have degrees in public planning and policy, fine arts, classics and Arabic, and French, along with the more traditional computer science backgrounds. We welcome anyone who believes in our mission of increasing access to life-changing products to anyone, anywhere.

  • Impressive Team Members

    Work horses, not show horses

    Angazans tend to be quietly impressive. You’d never guess that we’ve built deep sea exploration robots, designed the Tesla UI, helped scale Yahoo 14x, developed the Linux kernel, won juried photography competitions, established Grameen’s Kenya operations, or were named to Forbes’ “30 under 30” list.


    In fact, typing out that list felt painfully and distinctly non-Angazan, and we’d be just as happy never to do it again. Angazans come from a broad base of backgrounds, but the common theme that binds us is our shared desire to apply our depth of experience towards helping lift people out of poverty. Most Angazans have the ability and privilege to choose from a variety of professional options based on the past efforts we’ve put into our careers, but the only thing you’ll hear us talking about is how we can solve the problems in front of us.

  • Work/Life Balance

    A family-friendly, results-based management culture

    Angaza offers unlimited PTO (most people take around four weeks a year), paid parental leave (six weeks for all new parents and an additional six weeks for mothers giving birth), and while we’ve built our culture around in-office presence, we offer flexibility around occasionally working from home or remotely.


    Our Engineering Constitution stipulates that the engineering team gets together for an out-of-office activity once a month. We’ve played arcade games together and conquered escape rooms, as well as more informal outings to picnics or a group frisbee session. As a broader team, we value personal connection. We eat lunch together daily and hold regular team board game or movie nights. Within the company, you’ll often hear Angazans talking about “embracing their inner tembo”: this one of our five core company values. Tembo is the Swahili word for elephant, and we take the mentality of being a part of the herd and supporting the other members of the herd seriously.

  • High Quality Code Base

    Quality ∧ (Scope ⊕ Speed)

    Article I of our Engineering Constitution is titled: “Never Compromise Quality.” We have a strong bias towards clarity over complexity, simplicity over cleverness when writing code and collaborative, constructive code reviews; from continuous integration to blue/green deploys; and a preference for care over speed when it comes to production. Our platform powers our partners’ day to day operations, and as a result, we strive to build our engineering culture on a bedrock of quality.


    Engineers have wide latitude to make sweeping changes across the entire codebase to eliminate lava antipatterns, and we always attempt to fix entire classes of bugs at a time. When mistakes do occur, we practice a no-blame culture and follow the five whys during postmortem.


Values

  • Heavily Team Oriented
  • EQ > IQ
  • Open Communication
  • Committed to Personal Growth
  • Team is Diverse
  • Impressive Team Members
  • Work/Life Balance
  • High Quality Code Base

Company Properties

  • B2B
  • Technical Founder(s)

Team Members

  • 1 Data Scientist
  • 19 Full-Stack Engineers (10 in SF, 9 in East Africa)
  • 3 Hardware and Firmware Engineers
  • 1 Human-Centered Designer
  • 1 Mobile Engineer
  • 2 Product Managers

Vacation Policy

We offer unlimited PTO, and on average, most people take about 4 weeks every year. We also offer 6 weeks of paid family leave.

Tech Stack

React/Redux

Android (native, Kotlin)

Python (using Flask / SQLAlchemy)

Postgresql

AWS

Interview Process

We’ve documented our entire interview process on our blog.