UAE-based start-up Eduployment is seeking to provide blue-collar workers with skills to help them gain access to legitimate jobs and connect employers with qualified labour, while sidestepping potential recruitment fraud risks.
The global online recruitment start-up teaches blue-collar workers English language skills and matches them with prospective employers offering work, a safe environment and fair wages via its app, says Mazen Omair, the co-founder and chief executive of Eduployment.
The tech start-up aims to uplift workers and their families trapped in a cycle of unemployment, debt and poverty by arming them with the right skills to access job opportunities online, he says.
For companies, the app aims to help them cut the time, cost and complications of the recruitment process.
The online employment matchmaking service helps both candidates and managers avoid the potential pitfalls of fraud and scams associated with some recruitment agencies that source foreign workers.
“The current challenge of the existing ecosystem is that there's a lack of ethical recruiting channels and we’ve known a number of employers who’ve gone into a risky situation in business because of their recruiting practices,” Mr Omair says.
“Our value proposition is to help them hire better qualified candidates faster and cheaper.”
Inspiration for the start-up came to Mr Omair and Eduployment co-founder Rana Batterjee during a conference they attended a few years ago, during which a speaker discussed the idea of building a purpose-driven business that solves a world problem while generating a profit.
Another speaker outlined the number of people around the world living in poverty.
The thought-provoking presentations led Mr Omar and Ms Batterjee to investigate ways to alleviate moderate poverty, defined as living on a daily income of between $1.90 and $3.20 per day, through education.
The number of workers living in extreme to moderate poverty globally increased by more than 100 million between 2019 and 2020, to 700 million, reversing five years of progress towards the eradication of poverty, the International Labour Organisation said in its 2021 World Employment and Social Outlook.
Eduployment's co-founders aim to alleviate the burden of workers who are living in moderate poverty in developing economies, with limited job opportunities or limited means to improve their situation.
By educating workers and connecting them to relevant employers, the app gives them better chances at finding job opportunities abroad, lifting them out of poverty and providing better livelihoods for their dependents.
The start-up seeks to resolve the problem of workers' access to well-paying jobs, the English language barriers holding them back and the exorbitant fees paid to employment agencies that could range between $900 to $3,000, Mr Omair says.
Eduployment actively recruits blue-collar workers in eight countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Philippines, Egypt, Lebanon, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. These include factory workers, waiters, hotel staff, security guards, receptionists and other junior office staff.
With high smartphone use in these countries, Eduployment reaches its target audience with digital advertisements and an app they can download on their devices.
To reduce communication gaps and accessibility problems, the app is available for job seekers in languages including Hindi, Urdu, Nepali, Arabic and English, Mr Omair says.
Job seekers download the app, create a profile, upload or create a resume and record a one-minute video introducing themselves. They also take a personality test to give employers an idea about their preferences and an English test designed to gauge their current language proficiency to determine the training level needed.
To learn English, workers engage in a three-month daily 30-minute programme to improve language proficiency by one level.
Once their profile is complete, candidates can begin applying for jobs online.
Eduployment charges job candidates $1.50 per month — or packages of $9 for six months and $15 for nine months — for language training and job opening access.
For employers, Eduployment says it cuts the hassle of sorting through a stack of unfiltered CVs and sending recruitment staff abroad to interview workers by offering better-qualified candidates faster and cheaper, with access to online interviews.
Once employers have a profile set up, they can post jobs and select workers based on specific eligibility criteria.
“Only candidates who meet these criteria get notified instantly on their phones about the jobs and can apply directly,” Mr Omair says.
“For employers, it cuts out a lot of noise and targets what they're looking for … our newest AI tech will match applicants with the right work experience against the requirements of the employers.”
The opportunity to 'do good'
The social impact start-up says it allows employers to “do good” when the placement fee they pay goes back to the candidate they hired in the form of several coupons for free subscriptions so that their friends and family can use the app to find a job.
Eduployment's business model is based on monetising candidates' subscription fees and employers' placement fees once they hire an applicant on the platform. The employers pay a fee of $45, $63 or $90 depending on “how many people they choose to uplift”, Mr Omair says.
Currently, more than 160,000 candidates of 190 nationalities are registered on the app, with a daily acquisition growth rate of 400 per cent amid new marketing campaigns and AI tech upgrades, he adds.
The number of employers on the app has doubled every four to five months and the number of jobs offered on the platform has doubled every three months, he says, without providing the specific number of employers or jobs.
Eduployment recorded 300 per cent growth in terms of the number of candidates active on the app.
Currently, job posts are pouring in from 16 countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Zimbabwe, while Eduployment's initial target countries are the GCC with a focus on the UAE and Saudi Arabia, he says.
Asked if the macroeconomic challenges of inflation and projections of a global economic recession are affecting recruitment trends globally, Mr Omair says that the GCC region is “more resilient” to these headwinds.
“Higher oil prices are creating more economic opportunities, more initiatives and more factories,” he says.
Eduployment, which registered as a company in March 2020 and launched operations for candidates in October 2021 and for employers in January 2022, was initially bootstrapped before receiving funds from angel investors regionally and internationally, Mr Omair says, declining to provide the amount of investment.
Eduployment is currently fundraising from new “strategic investors”, in addition to receiving backing from existing ones, and aims to close the current round before the end of the year.
“We will look at potentially a second round in the second quarter of 2023, depending on the business [growth],” Mr Omair says.
The funds will be used to increase sales and marketing to capture more business in existing markets and enter new countries, he adds.
In the second phase of its growth, it will take aim at job candidates in sub-Saharan Africa and employers in East Asia, he says. He adds that this could start in 2023, depending on growth levels.
The start-up aims to reach break-even levels within the next 12 months, growth into new markets in 2023 and in a third phase of growth, potentially expanding to cater to western countries with labour shortages, Mr Omair says.
Q&A with Mazen Omair, co-founder and chief executive of Eduployment
Why is setting up a business with a social impact important to you personally and professionally?
Personally, it was important for us to set up a social impact business as a structured means for us to help uplift individuals through our day-to-day work. Professionally, we wanted to build a social impact business which provides a mechanism which multiplies our individual efforts by leveraging the organisation structure and resources.
What new skills have you learnt since launching your start-up?
Among the top new skills we learnt would be fundraising and building a company culture with a remote/in-person team structure. We continue learning new skills daily.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business?
The pandemic affected our business both negatively and positively. On the negative side, lockdowns and travel restrictions in the early days significantly delayed our launch plans. While on the positive side, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of mobile technology and online meetings.
How important have your start-up’s services been during the pandemic?
Very important, as we provide employers and candidates with a complete online recruitment service.
How is your product different from other recruitment resources available for blue-collar workers in the region and globally?
Our platform is different from others in our focus on blue-collar workers, their upskilling and the uplifting of their dependents, all while providing a tech solution that solves real pain points.
If you had a chance to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
We have no regrets. Making mistakes is part of the process and provides us with invaluable learning opportunities.