Finalist category: Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award
Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award, Finalist, 2018
Kenya’s social networking platform for blue collar workers.
Lynk is a social enterprise based in Kenya that builds technology to connect informal workers to employment. Aiming to provide a LinkedIn for the LinkedOut – the platform enables blue collar workers to grow their incomes and build careers where they are currently plagued by uncertainty and low pay, with few opportunities for career growth.
Lynk co-founder, Adam, saw the problem first hand when working for Google in Kenya. Despite the informal sector accounting for nearly 80% of Africa’s labor force (AFDB), access to jobs is built on informal structures, with only a tiny fraction of plumbers, cleaners etc possessing CVs or finding employment through formal channels. Mostly, work is granted by ‘knowing someone’; leading to low wages, irregular work, and few (if any) opportunities to ‘build a career’. This not only leads to the immediate challenges of irregular and low-waged work, but a cycle that perpetuates poor quality, skews incentives, and keeps these sectors informal.
Adam and his co-founder saw a technological solution to this problem and developed Lynk – a platform to connect blue collar professionals (called ‘Pros’) to opportunities in their sector. Lynk seeks to build the infrastructure which informal workers traditionally struggle with – credibility, access to market, payment processing, customer service, reminders on timekeeping and more. The foundations of this infrastructure are customized digital profiles which grow over time with ratings and pictures from the jobs they do. With profiles establishing credibility, Lynk offers a range of customer-facing products to enable customers to find the right Pro: Lynk Request is a matching platform which enables qualified Pros to bid on jobs suitable for them, and Lynk Shop enables those same Pros to offer ready-to-buy goods and services from a browseable website. We’re also developing a Pro App which will not only enable them to manage their profiles and jobs, but access e-learning and other opportunities to help them build their business.
In the past 2 years, Lynk has connected over 750 Pros to more than 12,000 jobs, providing over Ksh100m (almost £750,000) of income to Pros and their families. They have built a sustainable business model and in 2017, Lynk was selected by the World Bank-led XL Africa program as one of the 20 top digital start-ups on the continent, and was voted the world’s #1 youth unemployment solution by the Global Center for Youth Employment.
In the next two years, they want to increase the number of jobs they facilitate to around 1,000 per day. Through these initiatives, Lynk aims to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of blue collar professionals in Kenya and beyond, in the longer-term.