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Landscape Scan on Platforms for Offline Work in Sub-Saharan Africa

Feb 26, 2024 | Research

By Manan Sharma 

Among the first wave of Jobtech platforms in Africa, Platforms for offline work function as digital means of discovery and distribution networks for physical services like transportation, delivery, and errands that are performed as a result of online orders. These platforms have the ability to make existing labor markets in Africa more efficient and effective, as well as to create new markets for labor by connecting supply and demand through technology. Such online platforms for offline work have not only led the way for the platform economy, but have also been instrumental in providing a fillip to the gig economy (think of ride hailing and delivery apps).

Our Platforms for Offline Work landscape scan deep-dives into subcategories within the segment and evaluates prominent start-ups (e.g., SafeBoda for ride-hailing, Jobberman for recruitment, etc.), their value proposition (e.g., SweepSouth in South Africa has enabled thousands of women from low-income households to gain access to

flexible work opportunities and income), and sub-sector specific challenges (e.g. Criticism of quality of work at ride-hailing platforms).

Platforms for Offline Work Taxonomy

Taxi / ride hailing / delivery / logisticsPlatforms which match drivers/riders to households or businesses for gigs
Home services / technical servicesPlatforms which match technicians like beauticians or plumbers to households or busineses for gigs or short-term services
Cleaning / domestic workPlatforms which match cleaners to gig- or ongoing work with households or businesses
Care servicesPlatforms which match care workers like elderly carers, nannies, or medical services to households or businesses for gigs or ongoing work.
Jobs boards / recruitment platformsPlatforms which host job vacancies (including full-time, part-time or internships / apprenticeship). They may offer hands-on recruitment/vetting or additional services to jobseekers like online/offline training.
Distributed manufacturingPlatforms which distribute large manufacturing orders (such as for beauty items) between a distributed workforce where producers make items from home or personal studios.

Our analysis extends to various business models within the segment, exploring their features and limitations in the context of the African economy. These models encompass the listing fee model, commission model, subscription model, freemium/secondary revenue stream models, and grant-funded models. We further examine the market shift from listing models to full-service models in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Additionally, we delve into challenges faced by the segment, including competition with the informal sector, gender parity issues (e.g., only ~5% of Kenyan app drivers are female), and concerns related to the fairness of platforms. On the flip side, the scan highlights immense opportunities that could be harvested within the segment, if the challenges are navigated tactfully, including possibility to create new and expand existing markets (as seen in the increased usage of taxis compared to the pre-Uber era), prospects to improve workers’ lives by providing additional benefits and securities to platform workers, etc.

For a more in-depth understanding of Platforms for Offline Work in Sub-Saharan Africa, you can access our landscape scan here

A short version of this Landscape Scan is also available as a video-based e-learning course on the VC4A website here

The Author, Manan Sharma, is a Venture Building Extern at the Jobtech Alliance


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