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Explore Data Science Academy and Rand Merchant Investments launch EXPLORE 10X

Published on October 8th, 2018

The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) and Rand Merchant Investments (RMI) fintech division, AlphaCode, have announced a 12-month data science and business skills programme for 20 aspirant South African future fintech entrepreneurs. Successful candidates will go through an intensive six-month data science-training programme, where they will learn how to design a 10X business along with the core digital skills needed to build a fintech organisation. This will be followed by three-months of business skills training, learning how to execute a 10X business strategy and to build a fintech startup.

The course will be sponsored by RMI and is offered at no cost to the candidates selected to take part. Included in the sponsorship is a stipend, to cover major living expenses during the year. “The EXPLORE 10X programme, developed by the EDSA team, provides AlphaCode access to young, bright, future fintech entrepreneurs with great ideas, which AlphaCode can then help grow their businesses and the economy at the same time,” said Dominique Collett, Head of AlphaCode and Senior Investment Executive at RMI.

Candidates interested in the programme need to submit their CV, as well as write a 750-word essay, motivating their ideas and why the world would be a better place with their business in it. Twenty of the best entries will be selected. Entries close on 30 October 2018. “Ideal candidates for EXPLORE 10X would be young (in spirit) graduates with tech smarts, bright ideas for fintech innovation and disruption, a passion for data analytics, a desire to acquire new skills as well as the ambition and drive to build and grow a business that could impact South Africa’s fintech industry,” said Shaun Dippnall, co-founder of the Explore Data Science Academy.

Data science core to disruption

Commenting on the decision to partner with the EDSA for EXPLORE 10X, Collett explained: “Data science skills are essential to innovation in the insurance and banking sector. We see increasing opportunities for data science driven fintech solutions to lower barriers to entry, which broadens access to financial services and as a result drives the economy.”

The Explore Data Science Academy team are entrepreneurial by nature with a depth of expertise in data science and a track record of success with their accredited data science skills learnerships. AlphaCode views them as a great fit.

An additional consideration for the program was that it fitted into RMI’s broader transformation strategy. “We were looking for a programme that would both utilise our skills development spend while being strategically aligned to our business,” Collett said.

Talent pipeline

RMI over the years has invested heavily in technology and innovation both through its shareholding in FirstRand, Discovery, OUTsurance and MMI, as well as its various AlphaCode sponsored fintech development programmes. “EXPLORE 10X will provide a pipeline of talent for our Incubate - and later our Accelerate programmes,” she added. To apply for the EXPLORE 10X programme go to


About Explore Data Science Academy

Cape Town-based Explore Data Science Academy is believed to be the first institution in the country focused on data science. Launched in September 2017, the Academy is the brainchild of founders Shaun Dippnall, Dave Strugnell and Aidan Helmbold, all highly qualified data scientists with actuarial qualifications and experience in lecturing, research and consulting. The Academy provides a one-year Accredited Skills Programme, which is free, practical, has real-world relevance and provides work experience. The Academy has a campus in Cape Town and is soon to have one in Gauteng (from 2019).

About AlphaCode With the backing of Rand Merchant Investment Holdings, AlphaCode actively seeks to fund new and disruptive, sustainable, scalable financial services business models. We work to identify key investments that will truly change the landscape of the industry, and spur the development of other businesses within the financial services sector.