Babajob.com is a web and mobile start-up dedicated to bringing better job opportunities to the informal job sector (cooks, maids, security guards, office helpers, etc.) by appropriately connecting the right employers and job seekers via the web, mobile apps, SMS, the mobile web and voice services.
Babajob was founded in Bangalore, India in 2007 and inspired by Duke University and World Bank research that showed that the primary path out of poverty is income diversification i.e. changing jobs. Traditionally, it was only those informal sector workers with strong social networks that could learn of relevant job opportunities and apply for better jobs.
It's not hard to imagine the examples: a rural farmer has a cousin in the city who drives an auto-rickshaw. The cousin talks to his boss who needs another driver and hires the farmer. Or a nanny works for a rich family when another rich family needs a cook. So the nanny recommends her sister, who is hired and thereby increases her income by 100%.
These dependencies on word-of-mouth networks create huge inefficiencies both for employers and job seekers - e.g. there is no job bulletin board in villages 60kms outside of major cities like Bangalore providing comparative listings of every security guard job in the city. Which jobs pay Rs5000/$90 versus Rs7000/$120 month and which need Hindi versus English speaking guards? Similarly, there's no digital way that a security guard agency - which may hire hundreds of people each month - can easily filter and reach out to their ideal candidates.
Babajob acts as a scalable, sustainable, digital and replicable solution to both informal sector employers and job seekers. Our interviews have shown that hired job seekers on average report income increases of 20.1% and average decreases of 14 minutes per day in commute times. We have extensively studied the blue-collar employment process in India and created innovative mechanisms whereby users can register themselves on their mobiles or experienced users can register others.
Babajob currently has a staff of 22, over registered 500,000 job seekers and 60,000 employers and operates in every state in India.
The Why of Babajob
What inspired this project?
While at Microsoft Research India in 2005,
our CEO, Sean Blagsvedt co-ran the Advanced Development and Prototyping Team and worked very closely with the Technology for Emerging Markets research group,
whose aim was to study and invent new ways that technology could be used to positively impact the social and economic development of the world’s poorest 4 billion people.
While there, a colleague presented a
Escaping Poverty and Becoming Poor: Who Gains, Who Loses, and Why?, ANIRUDH KRISHNA,
2003) that sought to explain why families in India
move in and out of poverty. In short, the answers were relatively simple:
- Poor families everywhere often fall into poverty when major health calamities
occur – if a father and primary income earner is a day laborer and loses a hand,
his family may often fall destitute (It should be noted that the solution to
sudden calamity found in many developed nations is also simple – insurance).
the positive side, the study showed that poor families often left the poverty
trap through income diversification i.e. they got other jobs. If a farmer
started fixing tractors on the side or a young son got a better paying job in
the city, eventually that extra income really did raise the real economic status
of the family. How were these jobs obtained? Well, the employee knew
someone who knew someone.
Sean’s first thought was “Great – all they need is the
village version LinkedIn.com!” but obviously in order to make such a system
work, one has to overcome the problem that most low-income workers of the world
may not be literate, nor own a mobile phone and rarely own or have ready access
to an Internet-connected PC.
Thus, babajob was born as an experiment by Sean, his step-father Ira Weise and Microsoft collegaue Vibhore Goyal, to leverage the web, the mobile and social networks to accelerate the escape from poverty. It is an experiment – a possible solution to provide all levels of job seekers more with job opportunities while efficiently helping employers find suitable employees.