Netwookie; a Kenyan and French startup that is in the business of helping users find professionals and service providers in the informal market, has secured an undisclosed amount of investment from Germany-based GreenTec Capital.
The apparent lack of trust in the informal market for professionals and service providers is considered one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the exploration of the opportunities which the sector potentially serves up. Some indices event suggest that this single bottleneck is responsible for significant productivity and economic losses in African countries annually.
Word-of-mouth referrals appear to be the go-to method used by small businesses and clients for finding reliable service professionals in parts of Africa, and this is not exactly reliable, often proving a blind, hopeful shot at best. More so, African businesses and corporates are met with challenges in trying to identify and validate qualified applicants within their ecosystems; a major hurdle to growth on the continent.
However, Kenya’s Netwookie appears to be doing its bit to address the continent-wide problem as it has set out to assist users in finding reliable service professionals in the informal market. The startup solves this problem by digitising word-of-mouth referrals and mapping social relationships, using a custom developed trust prediction algorithm that is based on an individual’s contacts.
Netwookie offers its services as an app which is available for download from the Google Play Store. Currently, the platform assists Kenyans in finding trusted boda-boda (motorbike taxi) drivers within their locale.
In addition to putting users in the know as per how many registered professionals are in their contacts, the app also functions in the areas of listing endorsements and providing location information. Through the platform, users are enabled to contact service providers directly and negotiate. This way, it allows for services to be contracted and payment arrangements to be made.
Netwookie recently concluded a successful pilot with motorbike taxi (boda-bodas) drivers in Nairobi, which was more or less a test run. Having shown promise by way of its viability, as well as its trust prediction algorithm, the company is believed to be actively exploring other fronts to develop the platform further. Talk of incorporating such details as HR and recruitment services to African business and corporates into the Netwookie offering is also being broached. And the investment from GreenTec Capital can be expected to go some way towards taking the platform to the next level.
Netwookie’s offering could be thought of as an ideal solution for companies looking to hire the cream of the crop from what appears to be an endless list of potential job seekers with a range of educational and work experience on the continent. Such organisations could be done a solid by leveraging the Netwookie’s technology to uncover some of the best local talents available. And there’s something for the professionals to as, on the other hand, Netwookie could also do a good job of helping to hone their skills and build expertise via strategic matches with organisations that need their services.
For GreenTec Capital, it would appear the investment firm is on a roll as the latest investment is following closely from recent investments in Nigerian logistics startup; Parcel-IT (see report), and Namibian high-tech CPU manufacturer; PEBL (see report). As at the time of publishing this piece, the specifics of the investment as per the funding amount and equity agreement are yet to be disclosed.
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