This student-founded Rwandan jobs startup is planning international expansion

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Rwandan recruitment startup eJobu, founded by student Samuel Tuyizere in 2017, is planning international expansion after a positive reception at home.

An online platform that connects freelancers with clients, eJobu was built as a solution to problems Tuyizere himself was facing finding work.

“Back in 2016, I was a student at the University of Rwanda in a southern province of the country, and I couldn’t find a job. I was looking online and discovered that actually people can legally work online and get paid. After so many unsuccessful trials on global platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, I decided it was time to build our own platform,” he told Disrupt Africa. 

With a friend, he put together a WordPress site and a business plan, and launched the website in May 2017. It immediately saw over 200 registrations, prompting Tuyizere to drop out of school to focus on it full-time. 

“Initially the idea was to help Rwandans find gigs online, but as we hit the market we realised that a lot of our clients just wanted to use our platform to initialise the contact with freelancer. They also wanted to be able to see previous work and proposals before they started hiring. So we decided to focus on helping our clients find the best talent by automatically eliminating the unqualified applicants with our algorithm and promoting the freelancers with most portfolio items and recommendations,” Tuyizere said.

This approach has proven popular. eJobu has over 700 registered users, and has seen around 30 projects posted on the platform thus far. The startup, which takes 20 per cent commission on each project completed, has been bootstrapped to date, but plans to raise funding this year in order to expand into other East African countries.

“We hope that by next year our algorithm will be ready for global expansion, and we plan to start with our East African neighbours in registering new candidates. As for employers, our focus will be on attracting them from Europe, America and Asia,” Tuyizere said.

“We target to have more than 100,000 registered workers by the end of 2020, and by 2021 we target to reach over 25 countries with around 500,000 registered users and US$1 million in revenues.”

eJobu’s biggest challenge thus far has been the quality of applicants and how they sell themselves to potential employers. 

“We still need to educate them on what to send in an application and how to sell your strengths and take advantage of your weaknesses. We also need to educate both our users on the required digital skills and ethics of working online and effective online communication,” said Tuyizere.

Convincing employers to hire online has also been a challenge, but the startup has been tweaking the platform to suit its customer base.

“It has been an interesting journey analysing our users’ feedback and sticking to our vision. We decided it was better to give them what they need for now while educating them and getting them for the future products,” Tuyizere said. 

“We are keen to using machine learning to be able to predict which candidate is most suitable for a certain project. We are currently building that and our focus is on how we can help employers find the best candidate online from all the data they provide to our platform.”

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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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