Our solution's stage of development:Research
With the advent of online work platforms, women with good skills can get great job opportunities that otherwise would be very difficult to access especially in Muslim countries. Providing education, skill training, and jobs, Odetta is an end-to-end service corp for women and a brand that Global 2000 can trust.
Many countries in MESA have highly educated female populations however the labor force participation hovers around 20%. Specifically, in Pakistan, where we are running our pilot, more women than men graduate from universities, and women often outperform men in the examinations. However, only 25% of female bachelor degree holders participate in the formal economy. This is commonly attributed to social, cultural, and religious norms, safety, crime and the quality of available transport services. We believe that enabling technology solutions for women from their own homes can help bring more women into the formal economy.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
We believe that women and girls of all socioeconomic backgrounds can connect to job opportunities online, especially when binding constraints are due to mobility. Online work platforms as a model have proven to provide incremental revenue to millions, however their reach in female populations in MESA have been limited. Odetta will change that. Based on one facebook post, 120 individual women from Pakistan have signed up to become online workers on our platform. We have entered 25 into our pilot, and while we are early in our pilot, we believe there is clear demand for this service.
Our target outcomes:
We intend to empower 1 million female workers with online work skills and access. We believe the impact will be incremental income, as well as a sense of purpose, independence, and community. We will be delivering our solution through an online work platform where workers can sign up, onboard with skills training, and connect to job opportunities from multi-national organizations selected based on the skills within the platform. Our pilot targets our early adopter profile of urban bachelor degree females aged 18 to 44 in Pakistan.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
We are commercializing outsourced virtual work in an underserved market. To do so requires a change of product and market positioning. Specifically what we have learned from our user testing is that the existing competitive buyer seller bid process is not attractive to workers, and the process of wading through hundreds of active bids is not efficient for employers. We propose a fixed price contract for employers with allocated work based on skills, to reduce the current race to the bottom pricing structure.
Why our solution is human-centered:
During our field visit to Pakistan, we learned that educated women in Pakistan are less likely to compete on mainstream work platforms like upwork.com. They often lack experience and skills to promote themselves and are less likely to compete in a competitive international platform. We believe that a successful solution has to keep the target market at the center. We would take advantage of SOLVE by involving the human-centered designers in our product development.
How people will access our solution:
Our pilot involves a build upon upwork.com as an agency model where we test feedback of features without incurring development costs. We have set up Odetta agency and we secure jobs for our workers to employers on the upwork platform. After 6 months, we intend to build our basic job site with a portal access for both employer and worker. This is a SAAS model, where revenue comes from a deduction of revenue earned from worker. We will be targeting user acquisition from WOM and SEO. There are no upfront fees to access work.
Technology-Readiness Level:0 (Concept)
How we will sustain our team financially:
Research phase (6 months): We intend to conduct research for the next 6 months while we perform our early research pilot in Pakistan of 25-100 users. We will be sustaining ourselves by continuing to earn income from our current employments through the end of 2017.
Pilot phase (6 months): After initial feedback from early pilot, part of our team will commence full-time on this venture, and expand the pilot within country. The early team will be sustaining themselves financially by earning income as a freelancers in various online work platforms and/or continuing to earn income from existing employment. Our platform fees and earned income will fund development, outreach and customer service.
Growth phase (12 months): After 12 months of testing, we intend to raise a seed round of $1M. This will be used to build the full online work platform, and start to grow the employer network.
The factors limiting our success:
While online work space is still nascent, we believe this is a competitive environment with a race to squeeze the margins. Many of our target countries are exposed to political instability. While the governments seem supportive of this initiative, we may also experience some blockages due to government limitations of foreign entities.
How long we have been working on our solution:Less than 1 year
How long it will take to develop a pilot:3-6 months
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:6-12 months
Our expected annual budget:
How much of our budget we've secured to date:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
While our team has experience in our target regions, we would benefit from local SOLVE contacts to set up partnerships and gain buy-in. While there are resources out there for social mission start-ups, SOLVE is ideally positioned to help us navigate from research through pilot phase, given its extensive network and plugged in alumni. We would take advantage of SOLVE by involving the human-centered designers in our product development.
Our current partners:
We are in early stages of formulating partnerships with several organizations in Pakistan including the DigiSkills governmental initiative as well as other start-up initiatives focused on building skills for freelancers.