If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from mobile network operators looking for additional revenue streams its that you can never get enough VAS services, especially in an environment where there are so many problems that need solutions.
Take the problem of massive unemployment and the difficulty that job seekers face in finding an easy to use platform for finding a job. Using SMS and USSD solutions for this is hardly new and as it turns out, NetOne and Econet are involved in the roll out of VAS solutions meant to help people looking for jobs available in Zimbabwe or the best candidates.
The solution available on the NetOne network is called MoJo (derived from More Jobs) and is powered by SMS. According to NetOne this is not part of their product line but has been developed by a third party VAS provider.
By dialing *138# candidates can register for the service, inquire about jobs, renew their subscription and, in the case of employers, post a job on the platform.
The jobs are classified by sector, profession and location and once an applicant registers based on a set of parameters they will receive notifications whenever something that fits the description comes up.
This isn’t the only service that does this via SMS though. Similar to MoJo is a job search service called Job Search that Econet Wireless has been tinkering with on its network.
After registering for the service on the *170# USSD code a couple of days ago we received a confirmation of job matches but couldn’t follow through because the service seems to have been disabled. Since this service hasn’t been launched officially it’s possible that the service has been pulled off the network for some final tweaks.
The opportunity that lies behind job recruitment is massive considering the staggering statistics on unemployment in Zimbabwe. It’s the same market that traditional employment agencies have been addressing with some names like CVPeopleAfrica now emerging as leaders in the use of the internet for this.
However when you look at figures on limited smartphone penetration and internet access, SMS based options like Mojo and Job Search appear to have a greater advantage over online platforms.
Since Zimbabwe has a very impressive mobile penetration rate it’s usually the case that the majority of job seekers find it easier to access a service that works for basic and feature phones without the need to go online.
With the right pricing such an offline service can gain a lot of traction, especially when you consider the scores of graduates being churned out by our tertiary institutions every year and adding to an already imperfect job market.
These are the same factors that have influenced the spawn and in some cases success of similar services in other parts of Africa like JOBSdey in Nigeria, Souktel (Morocco and Egypt) and M-Kazi (Kenya).
Perhaps other developers should think of addressing this market with other innovative solutions? Even though the potential market is huge anyone keen on taking this challenge (like what the providers of MoJo have done) should be ready to match the demands of mobile networks with a strong business case.
Have you used services like MoJo either as a job seeker or employer? How effective do you think SMS platforms are for this market?