DUMA is a social job matching service that connects job seekers with potential employers through their mobile phones. Duma’s current focus is on short term jobs in promotions, sales, and marketing, and will be expanding to other sectors soon. We have over 2000 job seekers in our database and have matched over 1000 people to jobs across Kenya.
DUMA was founded in November 2011 in Princeton, NJ and now operates full-time from its office in Nakuru, and part-time from the Nailab in Nairobi.
TechMoran caught up with its founders and this is what they are planning.
Who are its founders?
The founders of DUMA are Christine Blauvelt, Eric Kuto, and Arielle Sandor. We all graduated from Princeton University in the Class of 2012. Christine majored in Anthropology with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. Arielle majored in History with a minor in Chinese language and culture. Eric majored in Computer Science with a minor in Information Technology and Society. Arielle and Christine both had experience with project administration and marketing/market research through various summer experiences and with different clubs and societies on campus and Eric has a strong background in Computer science and has been involved with several tech startups targeting Kenya. Arielle & Christine were in Kenya during the summer of 2011 where they developed the initial inspiration for DUMA based upon their interaction with the communities they worked with. All three co-founders are incredibly passionate about building disruptive technologies that make people’s lives easier and are dedicated to building a company that maintains close ties to its user base.
What problem do you solve?
The problem DUMA addresses is simple. In Kenya, there is a fantastic web of family, friends, and colleagues spread throughout the country. It is upon this foundation of interconnectivity that people find work and workers. It’s informally called the word of mouth system and people use it all the time. In fact, people often don’t trust the typical job matching system where you’re only evaluated by your skills, especially for short-term tasks that involve company property, or personal possessions. For these tasks, you need to have a friend, or an employee, vouch for the worker. The problem with this system is that you don’t always know who has a qualified worker with the skills you’re looking for.
DUMA is a service that makes word of mouth easier by systematizing the process. We offer employers information about skilled workers nearby who they know through a friend, employee, or maybe the friend of a friend. We also offer a post-job rating system for employees so workers can be held accountable for the quality of their performance. This will not only create solid linkages between workers and employers, but also create a database of workers in the country and which jobs are popular where.
Why jobs?- there is health, education etc..
We chose to concentrate on job matching because whether or not you are able to earn an income has implications on every aspect of your life including health and education. We also believe that there is a clear gap in network to locate jobs, not just a dearth of job creation and economic activity that we wanted to address.
How does it work?
When an employer has a job opportunity, he can call DUMA, send an SMS, or post online with their job criteria. DUMA’s software then automatically runs a search through our database for people who best fit the job based upon skills, reviews by other employers, geographic proximity, and social network connections. Upon job completion, both employee and employer have the opportunity to send back a rating of the overall job and the employer. This creates accountability for both employee and employers to perform to their best ability. It also creates a database and record of employees and employers who performed more highly that others.
1- Our website (under construction) will have the features whereby not only job seekers/employers will be able to find each other, but also like-minded individuals who might be looking for collaboration on projects or even small enterprises.
2- On our website, all job-seekers have the ability to convert their basic job profile into a formatted CV, saving them time and money in the creation of their CV.
3- Our ultimate goal with our website is that it becomes a portal for job seekers to build their careers and track their progress. We see DUMA as a job matching platform to jumpstart your career, and then a solid network to help you develop life skills and grow professionally.
How many users so far so far?
We currently have over 2000 job seekers in our database spread over a variety of professions. We have also secured cooperation from 20+ corporate entities to use DUMA as a recruiting solution. We have matched over 1000 people to jobs in the last 3 months.
What is your business model?
Sign up is free for all users of the DUMA network. It is also free to receive a job alert, but if you desire to apply for the job, there is a nominal fee of Ksh. 20 /= to view the employer’s information: an “application fee”. If you are hiredby the employer, a small job-matching fee will then be deducted from your paycheck and given to DUMA to ensure we can match more people to jobs in the future. This job-matching fee is a commission based on your salary received and is an acceptable rate based off focus group discussions with 100+ job seekers in each specific job sector.
It is free for employers to post jobs, however, there is a premium service offered for a fee. This applies if a company needs a large amount of workers immediately, or if they require certain documentation of the workers prior to the interview, such as CVs or pictures.
Any competition in Kenya?
Our most direct competition comes from other mobile job matching companies in the country. We know of one other company doing similar work in Kenya, but they offer a very different type of job matching. Other indirect competition comes from job boards on traditional websites, or other venues such as Facebook and Twitter.
How unique are you from them?
DUMA offers a very different service than other mobile job matching companies. Our competitors receive job postings and then blast out the SMS about the opportunity to their whole network of workers with those skills. When doing so, they automatically deduct Ksh. 5 /= from the airtime of all these workers, regardless of the applicability of the job or the outcome.
DUMA addresses the concerns raised from this kind of system, namely, we don’t overwhelm employers with workers they don’t need, and we don’t waste job seekers’ money with irrelevant job postings. The reason employers use job matching systems is not just because they cannot find workers, but also because they don’t want to deal with an excess of CVs they will have to sift through. DUMA only matches the employer to the top 3 candidates for an open position (or more at the employer’s request). Furthermore, employers are not charged for this essential service.
Secondly, we recognize the huge concern amongst Kenyans of signing up for shortcodes that will sneakily deduct airtime from them without their consent. When job seekers are charged on DUMA, it is because they actively chose to send us the money via their mobile phone. If the job posting is irrelevant to them at the time, they won’t pay anything for the notification. If they wish to apply, they can be assured that their chances of getting the job are high since they are 1 of 3 candidates sent through DUMA. If they are not accepted to the position, they will not lose anything but the very minimal job notification fee, and will trust our service the next time.
Lastly, outside from DUMA’s robust database, matching system, and multi-purpose website, we offer support through our customer service team. Every job seeker in our database has been contacted personally by our customer service representatives to ensure our service is matching their needs and getting feedback from them about how to better our product. Our users now have a personal relationship with our company and are invested in our growth and development.
Any funding yet? How much? From who?
We are currently raising for our seed round. We cannot disclose how much we have raised at this time.
We also have raised money through various business plan competitions through the Princeton network, the Princeton e-Lab incubator program, and Ashoka Youth Venture. We are currently applying to the Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Challenge.
Engaging individual employers
Building social network
One challenge that we faced at the beginning was how to engage individual employers in addition to corporate clients. For instance, how do we convince a mother at her house to use DUMA to find an electrician nearby when she needs one? The issue of acquiring new individual users is something we know we will faceat DUMA, but we have decided to put it on the backburner for now. We are currently concentrating on building relationships with corporate partners who will use DUMA as their recruiting solution for open positions, especially short-term positions in promotions and construction. Once DUMA has proven its model in a few corporate sectors, we can begin to scale to other job sectors while simultaneously addressing the question of how to acquire individual users. We anticipate that once DUMA establishes credibility and awareness in the overall market, acquiring individuals will be a much easier process.
Another challenge we face is building out a robust social network. Because DUMA matches you to employees not only based on skills, reviews, and geography but also social network, we must ensure our social network is large enough to match accordingly. As of now, we are putting less emphasis on social connectivity and more on skills while we build the social network of mutual connections. We are manually building out this network by calling our users to ask them to recommend friends for certain jobs and references. This is working well and will suffice until we start launching promotions and competitions to encourage people to grow their DUMA professional social network.
Any upcoming developments?
The next few months will be very exciting. We are currently in the process of hiring software developers to join our team and will be unveiling the new DUMA website, with an easier sign in and additional features. We will be concentrating on building a database countrywide of workers in all fields and begin sourcing jobs on their behalf (still concentrating on promotions and construction). We will also begin offering promotional offers to expand your social network on DUMA. You should be seeing a lot of progress from us and lots of hustling on behalf of the hustlers of Kenya.