Platform aims at reducing unemployment

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 00:00 |
The Kazi Now platform that connects employees in the informal sector to clients. Photo/PD/ALEX MBURU

  Milliam Murigi @millymur1

In Kenya, limited growth in the country’s near-saturated formal employment market has led the informal sector to account for 82 per cent of working population.

According to the Ministry of Education, of the one million young people entering the job market from universities and colleges every year, only one in five is likely to get a job in the formal sector.

However, workers in the informal sector have limited opportunities to build their careers.

To solve this, Kazi Now Limited, a limited liability company registered in Kenya has come up with a platform to create fulfilling careers for informal workers and artisans by connecting them to relevant work opportunities with fair working conditions.

“At Kazi, we believe getting work should be as easy as getting that social media notification.

This is why this platform helps employers and potential employees learn about each other and quickly connect when there is mutual interest.

With this app, you get instant access to thousands of skilled workers right at your fingertips,” says Samuel Munga, worker engagement officer at Kazi Now Limited.

He added that the platform is accessible on one side by customers seeking a specific service through the customer app, Kazi request a service.

On the other side, workers can access jobs via the Kazi worker app. And to ensure that there is a seamless transaction, the platform is integrated with mobile money (Safaricom M-pesa) to provide cashless payments.

Payment for jobs through the Kazi platform is made directly from the client to the worker via the Kazi platform, and not by Kazi. 

“When customers pay for the service through the Kazi platform, the company retains a 25 per cent administration fee,” he adds.

He reveals that while other staffing solutions today screen out candidates to reduce the labour pool, this platform makes the pool larger.

Using a swiping interface familiar to online taxi hiring, the platform matches customers’ job requests to verified professionals such as skilled plumbers, electricians, tailors, carpenters, laundry people, and chefs, among others.

A client can book a service on the app on their mobile phones. Once the request is received on the other hand the client is given different workers who can handle the assignment to choose from. This is because different people have different charges. 

A client has room for negotiation with the worker and once in agreement the company is notified so that they can dispatch the skilled worker.

From the time one requests a worker, one can view them proceed to their place of work in real-time via maps, one can also track working time from start to finish.

 “We don’t have standard charges for our workers since we don’t want to limit them, but the minimum amount one can pay them Sh200.

For the safety of both our workers and clients, some personal information is needed during the logging in stage,” he explains.

And what kind of a worker can apply for job matching? Munga says the app is not only limited to skilled workers but it is also open to those who want to build their skills.

As long as you are qualified in the field you are applying for, there is no limitation. However, they don’t bring onboard unqualified workers. 

Basic training

Having just started operations in October the response has been great. Currently, the platform has 2,700 users already: 1,900 workers and 800 clients.

Every worker must have a certificate of good conduct not older than three months, has to undergo a background check, and pass a skills assessment test.

“We do all this to ensure whoever we are bringing on board is qualified. It also helps us to spot any potential red flags that could determine whether that person will become a reliable and effective worker or prove unreliable and inefficient at performing his/her duties.” 

He reveals that the company has been working on the app development since January 2020.

Apart from development they have also been doing market surveys and identifying workers, interviewing them and giving them basic training.

Their pilot phase happened between July to August and by September, they did the final test before releasing the app to the market in October. 

The idea of coming up with the app was borne last year after the group interacted with groups of youths from different informal settlements they were working with for a different project and realised that though a good number of them had different skills they were not exposed to job opportunities.

Kazi platform, downloadable from Google Playstore, is available in Nairobi and its environs. Once the model pays off, they will replicate it in other cities as well.

The staff comprises a core team of 17 including two founders who would like to remain anonymous. 

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