Quels sont les obstacles qui pourraient entraver la réussite de votre projet et comment comptez-vous les surmonter ?
A primary barrier facing Souktel’s technology is the fear of adoption. In many communities, youth and employers initially doubt that phones would actually be an effective mechanism to find jobs/staff- either because they perceive mobiles to be frivolous “toys” for youth or because they are intimidated by the SMS sign-up and processes. Fear of new technology has also emerged as an unintended challenge among peers: In Palestine, where executive-level jobs are typically advertised through newspapers, these print publications initially saw Souktel as a threat, believing that our technology would make their ads obsolete. A classified advertisement in a Palestinian newspaper costs around $500 per day; an SMS ad costs a fraction of that amount.
Another key challenge Souktel has faced relates to the labor market itself. In most communities where Souktel technology is in use, local labor markets often shrink or shift, decreasing the number of jobs posted by employers on the service. In our work to date, we’ve addressed these issues: Our strong PR efforts show users how simple it is to get job market information by phone. Local demonstrations & a support hotline offer a close-up look at Souktel and 24-hour assistance. This demonstrates to those who may initially be intimidated by the process that ample support exists to get them started and they soon realize how simple it is to use Job Match. A mix of jobs, apprenticeships, & training listings across sectors help insulate against market shocks.
Quels sont vos différents partenariats ?
Souktel works closely with three types of partners--government, civil society, and the private sector--to achieve maximum impact. In each country of operation we partner directly with the Ministries of Labor and Education to harmonize our service with national job creation plans. In the civil society sector, we work closely with NGOs to ensure that our service also reaches the “less reachable” female job-seekers outside the education system. We also work directly with village and town councils; we encourage local leaders to present Souktel to the community as ‘their service’. Finally, we work closely with private sector organizations--to build a strong cadre of employers who will post jobs through the service and hire job-seekers. In each country, we start by targeting sector leaders. When a company with international brand value, like Deloitte or Ernst and Young, publicly commits to posting jobs on our service, other employers follow suit. We also enter into partnership agreements with private sector association. These entities promote the Souktel Job Match service to their member companies (who typically number in the hundreds), and encourage them to post jobs on our service.
Expliquez vos choix.
As explained above, we partner with NGO’s in order to reach the vulnerable populations, including rural women and refugees. We forge relationships with a broad swathe of local businesses in order to create a diverse pool of jobs available to our users and to help small businesses establish more effective hiring processes. Our customers are, of course, our prime beneficiaries; however they also provide an important source of our funding.
Souktel is a social enterprise. While we’re a non-profit by nature, we cover almost all of our running costs through corporate-style revenue generation. Job-seekers pay a modest “premium SMS” fee to search job ads or post their mini-CVs; employers pay higher per-transaction fees to post jobs and search CVs. Through this model, we earn an average of $1/month per job-seeker (net of mobile network revenue-share) and an average of $10/month per employer. Any surplus revenue finances R&D and new market expansion. We also look to foundation/government funders for grants to support us in these areas. We believe this social enterprise model is both innovative and extremely successful. Most NGOs in our region rely exclusively on donations and grants, and spend many of their resources simply trying to acquire more money so they can stay afloat. Almost no non-profits have been structured with sustainable revenue generation in mind! Souktel, in contrast, earns income to support our running costs by directly doing our core work: matching young people with jobs. This gives us regular, reliable income that will continue to flow in over time.
Comment pensez-vous pouvoir consolider votre projet au cours des trois prochaines années ?
In 2011, as our new regional expansion programs move from piloting to full roll-out, we estimate that we’ll reach 20,000 new job-seekers in the Middle East, 10,000 job-seekers in North Africa, and 1,500 job-seekers in East Africa. By leveraging existing partnerships with national Ministries of Education and local NGOs, we believe we can double our outreach to over 60,000 beneficiaries. Over the next 3 years, working through our current partners will enable us to scale up our existing services without a major investment of new resources.
Illiteracy is a major Arab World challenge that affects millions of job-seekers—preventing them from getting work simply because they cannot read job ads or write a simple CV. In Egypt, almost one-third of the population cannot read; close to 40% of women lack basic literacy skills. In order to reach this population, we are developing IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technology—a function that allows users to send voice commands and get job information from our database. We have piloted this service in Somalia and now intend to expand it into one of our current markets, likely Egypt or Jordan. After getting feedback and retooling the service, we’ll work to launch it on a larger scale in all markets of operation. We believe that an advanced Souktel service with SMS and voice could make a massive difference in the lives of illiterate, unemployed job-seekers, enabling us to extend our social impact to hundreds of new communities and thousands of new beneficiaries—particularly in lower-skilled employment sectors, where we’re looking to grow.