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How the gig economy can boost jobs in Africa

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Georgie Midgley the CEO of South Africa’s freelancing platform M4Jam shares her views on how the gig economy could potentially boost economies in Africa by providing not just jobs, but also transferable skills.

M4Jam is providing micro-work for at least 220,000 South Africans (jobbers).

The jobbers, she writes, start off as gig economy workers but as they advance in their work, they pick up skills through the platform that they can use elsewhere.

“Our model allows for jobbers to advance into a Master Jobber whereby he/she is enabled to build and manage their own team of jobbers, as well as increase their own earning potential. Having their own teams will enhance their leadership abilities and provide them with the necessary business acumen to make their ecosystem profitable. Furthermore, as the teams and product offerings grow and change, he/she will evolve into a nano-entrepreneur, acquiring buying and selling techniques, negotiation skills, etc. Our vision is to see these nano-entrepreneurs evolve into small business owners who are able to contribute positively to the economy and improve the lives of the people around them” - Midgley

Midgley also mentions how platforms like Jumia are already providing portable skills to vendors.

At Caribou Digital, we refer to this training as Platform Led Transformational Upskilling. With the support from the Mastercard foundation, we explored how platforms such as Jumia, Uber, Lynk and others invest in the skills of the gig workers active on their sites, even outside of a traditional employer-employee relationship. Our research found that platforms are investing in skills that are transferable and have lifelong value, such as digital literacy, financial literacy, vocational training, and even soft skills.

We believe that as this training equips people with skills that are portable to other areas of their lives and livelihoods, it has the potential to be transformational for workers and in closing the skills gap.

While we recognise the benefit of this training to the company (increased transactions and worker loyalty), we believe that governments and the development sector should do more to support these training efforts. For many businesses in Africa, margins are thin and profitability is a goal that is hard to reach, and so we should do more to acknowledge and support the value these companies bring to workers.

We continue to explore how digital platforms are investing in skills development across Africa. You can follow our work here.

Are you a platform doing transformational upskilling? We'd love to hear about it and maybe even feature it on the website or involve you in one of our events. Get in touch in touch here.


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