Before Umwuga, our founder spent eight years developing, building, and investing in renewable energy power facilities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This involved building large machines in remote and rural places, requiring thousands of workers. The majority of these workers were low-skilled or semi-skilled. Despite 30-40% unemployment rates, we struggled to discover and evaluate the most exemplary applicants.
We enlisted local government officials and labour brokers to help us find people, but we discovered that they often had their own agendas or charged outrageous fees to do so. However, when we chatted with these employees, it became evident that they had no idea how to present themselves in the best light. Every interaction would begin with, “Hello sir; I am a really hard worker. “Please give me a chance, and I promise not to disappoint you.”
The gig economy has ushered in a labour force revolution. While it has done much to promote access to entry-level jobs, it has not helped reduce the power disparity between workers and bad employers, making it difficult for workers to earn a decent living and grow in their chosen industries.
Umwuga was created to address this problem. We believe far too little is being done to support the work lives of low(er)-skilled workers. The entire employment industry exists to benefit employers because they pay wages, and agencies, websites, and brokers make money by charging fees and commissions on these wages. So we built a marketplace where people can get a good job today and then upskill and network their way to their dream jobs tomorrow.
What sets us apart is that we care more than anyone else about the real needs of low(er)-skilled workers; we want to help them take charge of and steer their careers. In practice, this means that we:
- don’t charge fees or commissions on paying people for their services. Allowing them to keep 100% of the money they’re paid.
- help workers build an upwardly mobile career ladder so that they never have to start at minimum wage again.
- foster a sense of community among our members since, after all, your network is your net worth; and finally,
- make online employment as comfortable as asking friends for a referral, except we ask everyone you know and deliver results at the speed of a click.
So, how exactly does it work? Consider a hairdresser’s professional path; they may begin as a receptionist or an assistant at a salon while gaining expertise. Before they know it, they have to attract their own customers to pay the rent on their salon chair.
As their reputation rises, they start receiving requests for freelance work, such as home visits and weddings. Then they take the opportunity to extend their business by adding other services such as nails and makeup. As they take on larger projects, they may need to assemble a team of partners to whom they can turn for assistance.
Umwuga is designed to assist these workers at every stage of their careers. They begin by developing an online professional profile that they own and can use as a substitute for their CV anywhere. It emphasises their work, skills, and reputation to take the focus away from status symbols like well-known schools and companies.
They meet people, learn new things, and create great opportunities by joining social communities for hairdressers, nail stylists, makeup artists, and other interests. They have easy access to financial services such as payments, credit, and insurance, which are cleverly integrated into their workflows. Umwuga also offers a unique way for people to up-skill and reskill themselves and then use these talents to get more and better jobs.