After 8 years in management consulting, Victor Gerhard Thien has decided to start Afringa, an online platform with the goal of lay a stepping stone for a more integrated and united African business landscape.
Like LinkedIn, Afringa aims to introduce a standardised and highly authentic online platform supporting individual African professionals, students and entrepreneurs as well as African and foreign companies to come together. The platform also aims to see job candidates from e.g. Rwanda easily find a job in e.g. Tanzania or Botswana and vice versa.
“Education, skills and jobs are primary objectives for the afringa online platform. We believe, addressing education, skills and jobs will lay a stepping to stone to an improved business environment across Africa. afringa’s goal is to allow as many informal workers to enter the formal economy through emphasising individual further education,” Thien told TechMoran.
So far, Afringa has 300 users with public online career profiles, allowing them to network and increase the visibility and exposure of their online career profiles across African borders. The afringa user database is growing every day.
The firm aims to generate revenue through job advertisements paid by African as well as multinational corporations. As part of the job advertisement, afringa will facilitate the entire hiring process for companies to eventually provide a shortlist of suitable African candidates with authentic qualifications, more cost- and time-efficient.
In order to reduce high numbers of job applications and to introduce an initial filter, job applicants will have to pay a low, nominal annual fee, if they wish to apply for a job advertisement on afringa.
Thien told TechMoran that afringa is different from LinkedIn because LinkedIn does not address two key challenges on the African employment market: Job applications with fake qualifications (Professional experience/ Education) and Individual Further Education.
“If a company posts a job advertisement in local newspaper or online job platform, the company will receive more than thousand applications. Unfortunately many of these applications contain fake qualifications,” he said. “This makes the hiring process very complicated, long and expensive for companies, trying to identify African talent with the right and authentic qualifications.”
afringa does not want to blame the job applicants for this because there are more job applicants than available jobs. Therefore, afringa wants to raise awareness about the job market’s minimum requirements and provide job applicants with automatic (‘amazon-like’) recommendations for further education. This means, afringa will analyse existing career profiles and provide recommendations for further education in a physical location, based on the current location of the job candidate.
“If a job candidate lives in a rural area, the system will provide recommendations for e-learning courses. The afringa system is based on machine learning. This means, recommendations will learn and improve over time,” he told TechMoran.
Also, afringa’s research shows that many African LinkedIn members have inactive profiles or already have successful job positions and finished their postgraduate education. LinkedIn does not address average African employees, students and entrepreneurs.
According to the World Bank, the African continent will see strongest challenges across the employment market in the next few years. 100 million Africans are expected to enter the formal, steady wage-paying, labor force by 2035. afringa has calculated a market size of 677 million Africans in the working-age-population, of which 170 million (25%) are working in the formal economy, leading to approximately 1.7 million job changes per year and 4 million new formal jobs created per year.
The platform is now looking to raise funds to setup physical ‘afringa career centers’ in every bigger African city to facilitate the employment process and to support job candidates to understand advantages of online technology, advice with interviews, setup of cover letters, etc. ‘Offline’ physical career centers will enable informal African workers to bridge the gap to a formal employment.