M-Ployed is an online and SMS-based mobile career portal that delivers information to under-served rural youth on career, training, enterprise-funding and scholarship opportunities, while at the same time enabling them create online professional portfolios, forge peer networks, while enjoying the convenience of 'socialized career-networking'.
Youth unemployment in Kenya is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Today, unemployment stands at 40%, and 70% of the unemployed are between the ages of 15 and 35. Young Kenyans constitute 36% of the population, estimated to be about 40 million people.The World Bank estimates that approximately 800,000 youth manage to be absorbed into the labor market each year, but only a paltry 50,000 manage to secure employment in the professional sectors. Not surprisingly, the high level of unemployment has been blamed for escalating incidents of crime and insecurity in the country.
According to a study in February 2014 by a market research firm, Consumer Insight, Kenyan urban youth are the biggest spenders of internet data bandwidth, which in the aggregate amount to $250 million annually (Kshs. 2.2 Billion.
There are a number of catalytic factors that could be attributed to the inordinate Kenyan youth unemployment levels. The major one is a mismatch between the theoretical skill-set imparted on young graduates during their training at their respective Alma mater, and industry demands in terms of practical competencies.
Our mobile (online and SMS) innovation seeks to remedy the information gaps that exist among underserved rural youth when it comes to opportunity information-sharing, low career reviews and appraisal or the complete lack of it all, the competencies needed to undertake the roles of a given job, plus the general state of youth unemployment and underemployment in Kenya. It indeed attempts to bridge the mentorship divide among underserved rural youth and more experienced persons within given industry niches.
Rural youth are comparatively disadvantaged when it comes to access to opportunities, owing to number of factors, the main being lack of exposure to learning and career opportunities, unlike their urban counterparts.This innovation seeks to remedy the information gaps that exist among
rural youth when it comes to opportunity information-sharing, low career reviews/referencing and lack of practical competencies needed
to undertake the roles of a given job, plus the general state of youth
unemployment and underemployment in Kenya.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
This innovation leverages the ubiquity of the mobile phone and internet connectivity in linking youth to career and training opportunities. With a population of about 40 million Kenyans, and 36% of the same being youthful and majorly jobless, it makes much sense to disruptively optimize the wide spatial spread of the mobile phone in realizing a sustainable solution to the unemployment problem in Kenya which currently stands at 40%, and 70% of the unemployed being youth, who majorly form the massive internet usage constituency.
Our solution's stage of development:
Our target outcomes:
Job search among the youth has become a socialized affair. A 60%+ smartphone uptake in Kenya provides an interesting intersection of youth unemployment, and increased connectivity and basal mobile adoption among youth. M-Ployed is a mobile career social space where job-seekers create accounts, brief professional portfolios, make friendships, which essentially become career networks, access a jobs and enterprise funding opportunities while at the same time sharing the same within their networks.
Uneducated rural youth are afforded access to blue-collar job opportunities to advance themselves. Besides, employers have access to varied potential employment of candidates through peer recommendations and spot-reviews.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The countries we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
Our innovation runs on Short-Message Service (SMS) and online, blends social network approaches with education, career and training opportunities by having a portal where unemployed, under-empowered and unempowered rural youth create their portfolios online, share them amongst peer networks for reviews and feedback, connect with potential employers and identify opportunities like trainings and capacity-building workshops, while at the same time forging peer-to-peer and mentorship networks. Youth could still enjoy their "social experience" like they do in their conventional social media niches, if not better, by having access to a depository of expert opinion on packaging oneself professionally amongst other opportunities.
Why our solution is human-centered:
It is a social ecosystem where youth access jobs, share them within their peer network, while at the same time acting as an employment data bank where employers innovatively access their potential hires by acquiring insights into their competencies through a functionality that affords them peer review of candidates' competencies. The concept of 'Career Credits' enables candidates get online appraisal by previous and current employers, and amongst their career peers. We also have 'Corporate Credits' where previous or current employees of a company rate its attributes such as corporate culture, perks and benefits, employee development, career-mentorship, social responsibility etc.
How people will access our solution:
Internet and mobile adoption in Kenya is majorly a preserve of the youth. They spend considerable amounts of time on social media spaces, undertaking activities which are not necessarily professionally-edifying. The intersection between youth unemployment, and the ubiquity of the mobile phone has not yet been leveraged in order to create solutions that holistically address youth unemployment. The innovation is modeled along social media sharing functionalities, making users easily share whatever opportunities one comes across, within their networks. This makes it possible for youth even in the remotest of places to access such information through a short messaging service (SMS).
Technology-Readiness Level:1-3 (Formulation)
Where we are located:Kenya
How we will sustain our team financially:
We intend to bootstrap this concept within the pre-pilot period and
thereafter grow revenues through selling broadcast advertising SMS and spaces to companies whose products target the youth. In addition to this, we shall set a nominal annual user subscription fee of Kshs. 20($0.25) after we gain substantive traction in the market, with a user base of say 1 million
users nationally and regionally. The revenues realized would then be used in scaling it further.
The factors limiting our success:
The main setback in this undertaking is the lack of seed-funding to enable us pilot the innovation. We are however planning to bootstrap this innovation in all facets of operational undertakings. We anticipate to fully fund it until it becomes reasonably sustainable to attract further funding needed in scaling it up regionally and even internationally.
Slow innovation user uptake is another setback, which we plan to address through a thorough refinement of the minimum viable product offering. In this respect I plan to first enrich the portal in order to gain considerable traction in increased usage.
How long we have been working on our solution:3 years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:1-3 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:
Our promotional materials:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
I am applying to Solve because of the desire to be part of a global innovative community that exposes me to the emerging trends and technologies in various innovative spaces.
I also desire to identify technology partners, mentors and investors for my idea.
Our current partners:
Institute of Human Resource Management.
Ministry of Youth.
Kenya Youth Empowerment Programme.
Youth Enterprise Development Fund.
Kenya National Youth Council.
National Youth Service.
National Council for People with Disability.
University of Nairobi.
United States International University.
- Mr ANTONY ODHIAMBO Startup Co-Founder| Tech-For-Good Researcher & Enthusiast|Public Intellectual