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Nigerian HR startup Propel secures €2.5 million to grow tech talent communities in emerging markets

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Propel, a Lagos- and Berlin-based HR-tech startup  has secured  €2.5 million (~$2.74 million) in seed investment intended to support the roll-out and adoption of its community-as-a-service platform and drive €1 million in revenue generated for communities by Q4 next year.

The round was led by Amsterdam-based No Such Ventures, with participation from APX (an accelerator by Axel Springer Digital Ventures and Porsche Digital), Golden Egg Check and Future of Learning Fund.

According to Sunkanmi Ola, Co-founder and CEO of Propel, communities are the building blocks of any ecosystem, and tech communities, especially across high-growth markets like Africa and within underrepresented groups, have emerged in their thousands to cover the massive gaps in education, capacity building, and inclusion. They discover, up-skill, and mentor talent; organize hackathons, events, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and respond to global trends quicker than is possible for traditional institutions. 

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“However, they are constantly on the lookout for how to solve problems faced by their members and become more financially sustainable, while still pushing to achieve their impact goals. That’s a very tall order. But by giving communities access to a plug-in platform that solves their last mile, Propel helps them focus on what they know how to do best. And with communities being able to grow and connect deeper on a local level, Propel is looking to tangibly impact the growth of millions of people on a scale that has not been seen before”, Ola added.

Founded by Sunkanmi Ola, Seun Owolabi, and Abel Agoi in 2020,Propel provides a pipeline for talent in these tech communities, connecting them with a network of companies driven by diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) mandates and specific job roles that need to be filled.

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In exchange for providing last-mile infrastructure, Propel plugs into the diverse pools of talent within these tech communities spanning across multiple skill sets – from software development to design, data science to no-code, and other digital transformation skills.

This pipeline is offered to global companies in what it calls a ‘Community as a Service’ model. Propel has worked with companies like Porsche, Mercedes, Orange Telecoms, Farfetch, Stepstone, and a roster of startups and scaleups – mostly across Europe, for a variety of purposes – like hiring talent, co-creating hackathons for specific communities, and designing DEI initiatives.

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“At Propel, we’re championing more responsible and regenerative ways of hiring/building talent pipelines. Rather than deploying opportunistic practices like headhunting or poaching, we participate deeply in ecosystems, using proprietary technology to find the best talent within communities. And when we place people in jobs, our revenue is shared with the community they belong to, which is reinvested into programs and initiatives needed to get more people into tech. In summary, Propel is where ambitious companies come to find the talent that is just right for their needs and crowd-solve tech challenges while doing good at the same time.” said Seun Owolabi, Co-founder and Head of Strategy.

To date, the company which was founded in 2020 has raised over €3 million, and was one of the winners of the Google Black Founders Fund in Europe last summer.  The new funds would be deployed into scaling its community platform, launching new tools in its value stack, and deepening its ecosystem of communities.

Speaking about the raise, Sophie Heijenberg, investor at No Such Ventures said “Propel’s unique, community-focused approach to driving the open talent economy sets them apart and is a solid addition to the Future of Work category. We’re bullish about their roadmap, and super-excited to partner with them on this growth journey.”

Mariama Boumanjal, Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Manager Europe and Africa: “If we want technology to work for everyone, it needs to be built by everyone. Propel’s inclusive approach to tackling the global skills shortage problem is inspiring. We are proud to have supported them through our program, and excited for what they’d do next.”

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Milcah Lukhanyu
Milcah Lukhanyuhttps://techmoran.com
I cover tech news across Africa. Drop me an email at [email protected]

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