How can Africa’s unemployment challenge be tackled?
Well, according to R.J. Musah, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of Asuqu, the answer is by enabling freelancers.
Asuqu is an online marketplace for creative and professional services, which aims to connect freelance professionals to customers across Africa.
“The only way to empower young adults and drive efficiency among SMEs is through a marketplace like Asuqu, that provides collaboration, connection and entrepreneurship without bureaucracy,” Musah says.
Musah says Asuqu speaks to the future of the recruitment sector, which he believes lies in outsourcing and freelance work, particularly in Africa. As such, he explains the platform places heightened importance on creating a strong profile and portfolio for listed professionals.
“I think the world is moving from traditional full-time job hiring to outsourcing. Asuqu has built a platform for modern age recruiting,” Musah says.
“Getting someone to work for you is about competence in today’s workforce. How do you know someone is good? Portfolio. We have provided an online portfolio for our freelancers to showcase their works, a professional profile and a review system to get information from other customers about a freelancer before hiring is done,” he says.
The startup makes money by charging freelancers 15 per cent on each project secured. Employers are not charged. Importantly, Asuqu secures payments by holding the funds in escrow while the project is under completion.
However, the concept of escrow is a tricky one to launch in African markets, Musah concedes.
“Escrow is still very young on the continent today. So right now we have started our campaign to educate businesses about escrow. Because we are all about safety we have partnered with some payment gateways and commercial banks for that,” he says.
Launched in Nigeria and Rwanda in April this year, Asuqu quickly racked up over 500 verified professionals on the platform.
Musah says the focus for now is building up as many available job listings as possible; but he also plans to scale the business to new markets, and is in the process of raising funds at the moment.
“By 2019 we plan to be in eight countries. Right now we are in two – Nigeria and Rwanda; and I’ll tell you what, we are doing well!”