Egypt’s Cantalop brings new clarity to MENA jobs market

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Egyptian startup Cantalop is employing complex technology to simplify the process of connecting employers with potential staff online.

Launched in September 2014 in the wake of the Arab Spring, Cantalop claims to be the first search engine for jobs dedicated to MENA region.

Powered by intelligent algorithm, the startup’s aim is to revolutionise the way people search for jobs and create a healthier jobs marketplace in the region.

Yasin Halawany, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Cantalop, told Disrupt Africa the idea for the company was born as Egypt went through political turmoil.

“During the past period, the Middle East and North Africa have witnessed a lot of turmoil, changes and chaos. The people of these countries decided to rise up against the obstacles they were facing in developing a better life and a better future,” he said.

“That’s where the idea for Cantalop came from. We aim to support the economies and people for a better life and promising future through tackling the unemployment issue, simplifying the process of job searching, and bridging the gap between employers and job seekers.”

Halawany said there was an opportunity for companies such as Cantalop as Egyptians increasingly turn to the internet for achieving their objectives. Yet there are a plethora of such sites available, employing a range of different business models, which does not necessarily help those looking for jobs online.

The traditional job board model, where companies list positions that need filling, is limited, he said, as the number of jobs on such boards is relatively small compared to the overall online job market. Job aggregators, meanwhile, collecting jobs from anywhere regardless the source of the job post, are usually “full of spam, duplications and fake jobs”.

Cantalop, on the other hand, describes itself as a “job search engine”, using a crawling and spidering technology to index and update jobs automatically.

“Cantalop only lists verified jobs that come directly from the source or owner, and in this case it is the employers directly, so we give job seekers an unforgettable user experience,” Halawany said.

The platform allows job seekers to visit one platform and search jobs directly from thousands of corporations. Employers, meanwhile, are provided with a simple, user-friendly experience when looking to hire a candidate, which Halawany said is different to most of the other “outdated” recruitment tools available.

This innovative approach has reaped rewards. Bootstrapped for 18 months after its launch, Cantalop raised seed funding earlier this year and has grown its coverage to include all jobs in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It plans to cover all of MENA before the end of 2016.

The startup, which makes money from hot job posting, advertising and other recruitment services, has so far been used by almost 300,000 job seekers, but Halawany said it has not been all plain sailing.

“When you are a startup you face challenges such as slow decision making by your prospective clients. Even worse, most Fortune 500 companies makes their decisions through their regional office in Dubai,” he said. “Another challenge was the devaluation in Egyptian currency, when most of our costs are in dollars.”

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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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