This post is part of a series of stories featuring the entrepreneurs who participated in Unreasonable East Africa’s 2015 program. 

In Kenya, a three-year-old startup called Duma Works is changing the way young people can connect to jobs by providing an SMS-based platform where they can apply and go through the screening process for jobs that match their skills profile.

Approximately 40% of youth are unemployed in Kenya and have no efficient way of connecting to jobs. “There is a huge percentage of youth unemployed in East Africa,” says CEO and cofounder of Duma Works Arielle Sandor. “We provide an SMS based solution where youth can create profiles with their phones to apply for jobs that they might not hear about otherwise. There is no reason that in a country where unemployment levels are so high that opportunities for employment are lost.”

In Kenya, an estimated 40% of youth are unemployed. Tweet This Quote

The widespread availability of mobile phones is helping people from all socio-economic levels connect with life-changing services in other sectors such as mobile money transfer, access to markets, and emergency medical alerts. In Kenya, 82% of the adult population owns a cell phone.

Yet mobile phones haven’t been fully utilized in the job sector before. Most young people applying to jobs typically still go to cyber cafes to apply for opportunities, walk around dropping off physical CVs at the offices of employers, or seek opportunities through family and friends. These methods of job hunting are antiquated and take a lot of time, not to mention money. Arielle argues that SMS is a convenient way to respond in real time to alerts for job postings that match their skill profiles. “Our users love the easy access to job alerts and screening tests on their mobile phones, as well as the immediate feedback they get about the status of their application.”

Job-connect services have recently emerged as a key solution aimed at empowering workforces in developing nations. Tweet This Quote

The job-connect services have recently emerged as one of the key solutions aimed at empowering the workforces in developing nations, by connecting them to the opportunities for career development and advancement.

Duma Works was founded in 2012 on the belief that finding the perfect hire or job opening should not be a nightmare. Sandor says they are moving recruitment from being a time consuming, expensive, and ineffective process to a modern, automated matching solution.

“Digitizing recruitment can do many good things to make better job matches and in turn, give people better income, greater longevity and happiness,” says Sandor.

Youth unemployment in part stems from a limited access to information on the type and location of jobs available, as well as an inability on the employers’ part to verify and validate qualifications and skills. The inexperienced applicants often lack knowledge on how to apply to jobs—something Duma Works helps them accomplish by collecting the necessary information, providing skills assessment tests and then linking applicants appropriately to businesses.

Youth unemployment in part stems from a limited access to information. Tweet This Quote

Duma Works works with small to medium sized enterprises across many sectors looking to hire young people with competitive skill sets. Sandor mentions that small and medium enterprises actually really need this digital solution as well. “Many companies have their country director handling recruitment and wind up sifting through thousands of CVs over the course of a month to find the right candidate.” Duma Works typically takes one to two weeks to fill a position, which is also very attractive to growing companies.

“I’m most proud of our work when I hear from people that they are grateful they aren’t sending their CVs into a black hole,” says Sandor. “And the companies hiring definitely appreciate the shortlist of vetted talent we send them.”

To date, Duma Works has made over 2,500 job matches. They currently have 40,000 job seekers in their network and hope to scale to 250,000 by the end of 2016.

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Cayte Bosler

Author Cayte Bosler

Cayte is an Unreasonable correspondent. She collects stories and lessons from and for entrepreneurs dedicated to solving the world's most pressing problems. She writes on a variety of subjects including science, technology, international development, the environment and travel.

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