Kenya’s Kuhustle is Freelancer for the African market

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Kenyan online marketplace Kuhustle, which allows skilled young people to bid for jobs posted by companies, claims to be adapting the Freelancer and Upwork model for the African market.

Launched in October 2014, Kuhustle was borne out of the perceived need for a reliable local platform on which developers could showcase their portfolios, and offer their services to SMEs.

The marketplace connects young Kenyans with organisations looking to hire professional and affordable service providers on a project basis.  

“Our model seeks to improve access to digital jobs by providing a consistent and sustainable pipeline while simultaneously helping organisations manage their human capital costs,” Kuhustle chief operations officer (COO) Beverly Mbeke told Disrupt Africa.

Kuhustle was launched after its co-founders noticed that even though the technology ecosystem in Kenya was growing, people were still unaware of where and how to find skilled individuals to implement technology solutions for them.

“Kuhustle was started following the constant enquiries that we received to refer developers and designers to private and government institutions that needed technology services, Mbeke said.

“Referrals were difficult because of lack of access to proof of prior work, and we could not guarantee the quality of the ones we found.”

Essentially, the platform is a clone of western equivalents Upwork and Freelancer, but Mbeke says there are differences in that it is built for the African market.

“Our differentiating factor is that, unlike other platforms that have proved to be expensive and harder for Africans to find work, we are tailored to the African market, and also partnering with knowledge partners for technical skills and training our community on the soft skills needed to deliver jobs,” she said.

Funded by the Cheetah Fund and the Nailab incubator, Kuhustle is based in Kenya yet has attracted developers and clients from Nigeria and Uganda.

“Our aim is to grow into already identified growth markets in Sub-Saharan Africa, starting with South Africa and Nigeria, and eventually provide our solution to western countries that are keen on working with skilled local talent,” Mbeke said.

Charging a commission on each job sourced through the platform – developers also pay 10 per cent for project management – Kuhustle has generated more than US$120,000 in revenues from over 4,000 users thus far. Mbeke said the startup was still adding to its product.

“We will soon introduce a freemium model that allows users to bid for a maximum number of jobs per month, while the subscription model allows unlimited bidding and interactions,” she said.

The startup has also increased its minimum budget range from US$35-US$150 to US$100-US$300, after developers said the minimum budget was not enough for them to deliver quality work and meet current market standards effectively and timely.

“This is also to help us to attain our goal of being a reliable source of income for people working on our platform,” she said.

“The budget increment will also help us improve on the quality of work we offer our clients as we will get a team of project managers to approve the work done by the developers.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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