RLabs launches Okazi to help businesses monetise employee downtime

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South African social impact incubator RLabs is this week launching Okazi, a platform for placing salaried workers who have extra availability at other companies temporarily.

Using Okazi, companies with under-utilised employees can make them available to other businesses. The client company pays the host company, and the host uses that money towards the worker’s salary, allowing the employer to employ someone full-time that they may have otherwise been forced to lay off.

For example, a small business employing a full-time cleaner who sets up the office before it opens and cleans after the office closes for the day, but has relatively little to do during the day at the office, can be listed on Okazi and made available to other companies for a few hours.

Okazi started out as a purely offline test, with co-founder Marlon Parker and his team calling local businesses to see if they would be interested. Over 100 businesses responded favourably to the idea.

RLabs then submitted the idea to Nextt, an idea accelerator based in New York, and completed the programme towards the end of 2016. It won the best startup award of the cohort.

While participating in Nextt, Okazi matched and completed over twenty business-to-business transactions worth US$16,000 – using only existing technologies such as WhatsApp and Google Spreadsheets.

The startup has now developed a web app that allow businesses to lend and borrow staff and complete transactions within 24 hours. Okazi is now open for businesses to sign up, list and hire capacity when needed.

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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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