Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact
Souktel has created far-reaching, measurable impact that continues to grow across the developing world: Since its start, we’ve directly helped over 2,000 job-seekers find jobs or training that lead to income. These newly-employed workers have earned a combined $9.6 million/year in new income; with each worker supporting 5+ family members, an additional 10,000 people have benefited indirectly from Souktel technology. Today, we cover three continents, with a further 8,000 users accessing Souktel daily to find jobs/staff—and promoting greater gender equality in the labor market as a result.
This impact is best demonstrated through a personal story: Diaa’ is a typical Souktel Job Match user. In her 20s, she lives in the Qalandia refugee camp in Palestine. In college she studied computers, but right after she finished studies she had no job prospects. Coming from a refugee camp, her family had no connections among local employers; her university had no tips for her, and the newspaper had no job ads for entry-level posts. Qalandia also has few places for women to use Internet, so this made web searching impossible. Ultimately, Diaa’ knew that if she failed to find a job soon she would be married early like most young women her age, and her family would have wasted its investment in her education.
However, Diaa’ heard about Souktel from a friend, and signed up from her mobile phone (without needing web access). She stayed updated on job opportunities from inside her home, which was safer and made her family more comfortable. Soon after she signed up for our service, she found an IT and data entry job at a local company. It paid well, she got to use her computer skills, and she earned new respect in her community. Since Souktel’s start, Diaa’s story has become increasingly common among our users: Slowly but surely, we are helping bring more young women into the workforce, and this is creating large-scale social change.
Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing
Unemployment, poverty, and gender inequality—Souktel believes these problems all stem from a single source: A lack of good resources to help young people, and particularly young women, find work. In the developing world, a young woman’s best hope for social and economic advancement often hinges on her ability to find a job, earn income, and save money. But in most developing countries, labor markets are in chaos—not because there’s a shortage of job opportunities, but because there are no good information networks to help job-seekers and employers find each other: Web access is low, public/private resources are few, and infrastructure is poor. As a result, many women get trapped in cycles of joblessness—and fail to realize their full potential as positive role models, and productive community members.
However, a huge number of women have basic cell phone access,even in rural areas. Souktel leverages this technology to bridge job information gaps in developing-world job markets—by creating a first-ever mobile “job matching” service that helps women find work quickly, easily, and cheaply--reducing unemployment and improving gender equality.
Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?
Souktel is designed to be scalable and replicable: Our service needs minimal hardware, set-up time, or added cost to increase scope and reach. We leverage these conditions to expand our Job Match service into new countries each year—growing our service through three types of partnership: First, we work with national mobile networks to coordinate infrastructure and network coverage. Second, we work with women’s organizations, technical colleges, and universities to reach our target market of female job-seekers. Finally, we work with leading companies to build an active, credible pool of employers with jobs for female workers. We recognize that people in these new markets may doubt that phones are a good way for women to find jobs/staff—or fear that the system is too hard to use. Labor markets may also shrink/shift, making Souktel less relevant. 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 demos & a support hotline offer a closeup look at Souktel and 24-hour help. A mix of jobs, apprenticeships, & training listings across sectors help insulate against market shocks.
Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible
In 2009 we helped approximately 8,000 job-seekers and 200+ employers through our core JobMatch services. In 2010, 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 our Horn of Africa Somali Job Service. In 2011 and 2012, we`ll focus on new technology that can empower illiterate female job-seekers; in so doing, we believe we can double our outreach from 31,500 beneficiaries to over 60,000 beneficiaries in total. By leveraging existing partnerships with national Ministries of Education and local NGOs—which already run specialized programs for illiterate community members--we feel we can easily empower an additional 30,000+ people in need. In each of the next 3 years, working through our current partners will enable us to scale up our existing SMS service and new voice-recognition technology quickly, without a major additional investment of new resources. With the right allies and with modest funding we believe we can make a significant impact on women`s unemployment and poverty.
If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?
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