Innovation That Matters

Helping unskilled workers find employers

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Websites like Monster and Craigslist handle a large share of recruitment for skilled workers. But most jobs that need to be filled require very little training at all. And finding good store clerks, housecleaners, dishwashers and other menial workers can be as hard as a finding a good lab technician or XML programmer, even in developing nations. That’s because those seeking work frequently have no means of connecting with those wanting to hire. It’s a problem Babajob, based in Bangalore, hopes to solve. The site helps the city’s legions of unskilled workers find work using an online social network. Historically, giving India’s poor a means to log onto the web has been especially tough, since people of low social status are often barred from even touching someone else’s computer, and may not be able to read or write (adult literacy in India is estimated to be 61.3%). Babajob uses intermediaries like charities and owners of internet case to help job seekers post their online profiles. The go-between helps create a resume, typing up details as dictated by the jobseeker, and takes his or her picture to add to the profile. To gain the attention of potential employers, Babajob utilizes a system where those who connect job seekers with employers receive a small fee based on their success. The site mimics the intricate social networks that already exist in India. Traditionally, the head of a family in need of a cook might ask the cooks currently working in the household for a referral. The cooks in turn will send word out through their extended families. The time-proven system of close connections helps insure that job applicants are trustworthy. Babajob was launched by a former Microsoft employee who was transferred from the company’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters to India. The website resulted in part from the software company’s efforts to encourage India’s high tech workers to explore ways to use technology to help the poor, and has plans to expand throughout India. (Related: Referral community for domestic help.) Spotted by: Susanna Haynie



Download PDF