Mozambican startup UX Information Technologies has launched Biscate, an app that connects workers in the informal sector to customers through USSD and web technologies.
Biscate, which already has over 4,000 workers registered, allows blue-collar workers such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters to register using a basic mobile phone, and customers to request their services.
The official launch of the app will take place in the coming months in partnership with Vodacom, with the mobile operator offering infrastructure, marketing support and the potential to replicate it in other markets.
UX co-founder Frederico Silva said the app will play a transformative role in Mozambique, tackling the difficulties faced by professionals in finding opportunities.
With Biscate, workers create profiles using USSD technology. These profiles are sent to a database and made accessible via web and app to customers who, after the completion of the service, evaluate the performance of the workers.
“It is a method that, on the one hand, boosts opportunities for the informal sector, but does not neglect meritocracy, as workers with the best ratings will probably get more opportunities,” said Silva.
He said there was an urgent need to connect lower-income communities living in peri-urban areas with the middle and upper-middle class living in the heart of the city.
“While the first offers quality labour at an affordable price, the latter is in constant need of credible handymen services from skilled individuals,” Silva said.
“The alternative is usually through word of mouth, or boards on trees or walls, providing details of craft and phone number. Both are free. However, the former is limited in terms of options while the latter is not always trustworthy due to the lack of a referral system.”
Biscate charges a small fee for worker registration, and a premium price for contact requests from customers. The platform also offers a series of B2B solutions, such as online advertising space, access to worker database subscriptions, and a bulk SMS advertising system.