Several years ago, we started looking at job markets in places like Bangladesh and Indonesia, and what we saw were systems that were facing similar growing pains and straining under the weight.

Take Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world (behind China, India, and the US). It’s experiencing a “youth bulge” where about half of its population is under the age of 30. And more of these young people are graduating with secondary and even tertiary degrees. On the surface, all that would seem like good news, but in a country where the informal job market is far larger than the formal job market and there was no structured repository to surface informal job postings , it creates an unorganized and competitive labor market. Because informal employment relies more heavily on personal networks, relationships, and referrals, if a candidate doesn’t know someone, their already slim chances at securing a job diminish even more.

We saw the same macro trends in India and Bangladesh: Millions of young people were entering the workforce every year. Many more of them live in urban centers and have achieved some level of secondary education than before. And many of them were struggling with a competitive, inefficient employment system.

Perhaps the most powerful illustration of the state of employment in these markets is the prevalence of “CV boxes.” A CV box is exactly what it sounds like — a physical box with a slot posted on the street outside a business, where job-seekers insert their résumés. One of the biggest complaints we heard in our research was that people would apply for a job and then never hear back.

In the face of these employment challenges, we saw the opportunity for a tech-driven solution, and that was how Kormo Jobs was born. Simplicity and efficiency were key to the app, which we made available in Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh. Job-seekers can filter jobs by profession (e.g., IT support or delivery rider), which helps them find jobs easily and quickly. Employers can post a job in just minutes and quickly see a shortlist of applicants who meet all mandatory criteria, which helps them select candidates to interview more efficiently.

To reach more job-seekers, we actively partner with governments, youth agencies, and private organizations. In September of 2021, for instance, we supported a virtual job event in Indonesia that was held by Plan International (a development and humanitarian organization) and the Indonesian government to help youths find jobs and build their career skills, which featured talks on how hiring processes have moved online and a demonstration of the Kormo Jobs app.

Amar and Kormo

Amar was in his 20s, providing for his mother and younger sister who live in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh. Amar took up the responsibility of taking care of his family from a young age, and as a result, he could not pursue his graduate studies. But he understood the important role of education and decided to move to Saudi Arabia in 2019 to work toward funding his sister’s General Nursing & Midwifery course. Unfortunately, when his employment contract expired, he had to return to India where he found his financial situation tenuous —  he had no savings to fall back on while he desperately searched for a new job in a highly uncertain job market.

Amar discovered an ad for Kormo Jobs on the internet and started applying for various job roles. Just 36 hours later, he’d secured a job as a driver. For Amar, the entire process was paperless, simple, and efficient.

With the new job, Amar was able to help his sister finish school and is no longer the sole earning member of his family. He is proud of his sister who is currently in training at a local hospital. Life was very uncertain for him before he came to India and he is grateful for the ease with which he landed a job through Kormo Jobs. He is excited to now save and plan for his future as he aspires to pursue his graduation and land a desk job and gain some stability in his career.

Task Mate

In late 2020, Google started to test a new app called Task Mate in India. The idea for Task Mate originated out of the research we conducted with our NBU team in countries such as India, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, and Kenya. We knew from our research with NIUs that financial independence and stability are among their biggest aspirations, but their already limited opportunities were even more sparse amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Task Mate, we wanted to see if we could create an equitable platform for flexible, small-task earning opportunities that can be performed instantly and completely within the app itself. For example, the app might ask users to help label objects in an image or to provide an English-to-Hindi translation on behalf of another party.

This kind of piecemeal tasking can be appealing to people who have been excluded from traditional earning opportunities, or who may wish to join, or rejoin, the workforce but aren’t sure where to start, or who would like to make some supplemental earnings.

Our hope for Task Mate is to remain as a flexible source of additional revenue, which everyone could always use a little more of.

In NBU countries where the job market is still primarily informal and unorganized, tech-driven products built to address employment and income challenges not only help to build a more efficient labor marketplace, but they also help NIUs experience the value of the internet in a way that benefits them directly and personally.


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