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Babajob.com is a Bangalore-based start-up that uses the web and mobile technology to connect employers and bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) informal sector workers (i.e. maids, cooks, drivers, etc.) with the goal of creating a scalable, replicable and profitable solution to combat poverty. Babajob aims to do this by creating greater market efficiency in the informal sector through voice and web features such as SMS, USSD, automated voice systems, and operator manned call centers, enabling employers and job seekers to find each other. The simple premises, upon which it built itself and continues to grow on, are –
While at Microsoft Research India in 2005, CEO Sean Blagsvedt co-ran the Advanced Development and Prototyping Team and worked very closely with the Technology for Emerging Markets research group, whose aim was to study and invent new ways that technology could be used to positively impact the social and economic development of the world’s poorest 4 billion people. Sean’s first thought was “Great – all they need is the village version of LinkedIn.com!” In reality however, in order to make such a system work, one has to overcome the problem that most low-income workers of the world may not be literate, nor own a mobile phone and rarely own or have ready access to an Internet-connected PC. Most people in India find jobs through people they know – namely their extended social network – and most employers – particularly when hiring employees that work in the home – would like to hire a person who someone they trust can vouch for. Another important factor with the increase of travel time (owing to the increase in the number of vehicles on the roads) and often-unreliable public transport has resulted in people looking for jobs closer to home, in their neighborhoods. More often than not, it’s the simply not-knowing that causes people to miss out on better-suited opportunities. Babajob.com is an attempt to digitize this process and information to efficiently “get the word out” and importantly provide an incentive for the folks in between an employer and employee to connect people together.
By leveraging web and mobile technology, Babajob scales and engages a wider audience creating greater efficiency for employers and further deepens the social impact on job seekers. Employers can conveniently browse job seeker profiles based on salary, location, languages, employment background, skills and references. Babajob offers several fee-based services to help in the matching and hiring of seekers.
With services available for all major cities in the country, Babajob is currently testing out a new voice application that will help communicate the necessary information into various regional languages. With a likely tie up with a mobile handset maker – the goal is to transcend, once again, the language and literacy barrier, to broaden the scope of Babajob’s services.
Babajob serves as a fine example of complex system design for a country that is socially and linguistically diverse; and where literacy is a major point of consideration, while attempting to make information accessible. With a constantly evolving set of parameters and a strong belief in the transformative power of software on society, Babajob is social entrepreneurship at its best. By tapping into informal social interactions and streams of information, and using a blended value business model that combines a revenue generating business with a social-value-generating component, it provides us with a glimpse of the paradigm shift that is brewing with regards to businesses in emerging economies.
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