Maxwell Kofi Donkor, a Ghanaian innovator has created a mobile employment app called mPawa that links a pool of job seekers with potential employers, mainly from the informal sector. Jobseekers register in the mPawa database using their mobile phones, and the job matching software corresponds applicants with available vacancies depending on qualifications.
ACCRA, GHANA (REUTERS) - Maxwell Kofi Donkor is holding a strategy meeting with his staff in Accra, Ghana. Donkor is the chief operating officer at Innokiq, a software development firm in the country.
Donkor is also an innovator who recently developed a job matching app called mPawa, along with three graduates from the country's Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology.
mPawa specifically targets blue-collar recruitment for Ghanaians looking to work as masons, painters, plumbers, carpenters, house helps among others.
Launched three months ago, the app offers an online service which enables jobseekers reach would be employers. This in turn presents companies looking to fill vacancies, with a large pool of workers who have various skills.
To find work, applicants are asked to register into the mPawa database using their mobile phones, no internet access is required, and the service is free of charge for jobseekers. So far mPawa has registered about 2000 workers.
"A job seeker goes through a three simple steps process, first step is to send Mpawa register as a text message to our short code, currently it is 1945, and just send. Once that message is sent there is an instant response to aid the job seeker to go to the second and third step," said Maxwell Kofi Donkor, chief executive officer of Innokiq.
"On the job seeker side its been very very interesting and tremendous, because they need the jobs, so they are ready to get themselves onto the service that's going to help them find jobs. Our major challenges has been with the employers but then we are getting to it, we are automating a lot of our service, most parts of our application are getting automated and the system is getting very intelligent with updating itself every now and then the likes and the dislikes," Donkor added.
Companies also post available jobs on the mPawa web page at a fee, the software then automatically matches applicants qualifications with company requirements, successful candidates receive job notifications through SMS.
Once a contender accepts the preliminary offer, they apply for the position and send CV details using SMS to mPawa. The app then forwards the electronic document to potential employers.
The 38 year old says with mPawa, he will not have to go through the usual job search hustle.
"May be they say the work is at Cape Coast (central region of Ghana) now if I have to join car go Cape Coast and may be they (potential employer) will say no it (job) is not ready go and come another day. But with mPawa if I text when they need me they will call me, its better to stay away when they call me I will go," he said.
Ghana's economy grew at 15 percent last year but employment opportunities in the formal sector have remained few and far between.
Labour experts say nearly eight out of every ten jobs in the country are created in the informal sector.
83 percent of the population derive their livelihood from blue collar jobs, according to the country's population and housing census in 2010.
"We noticed that it takes time when we advertised through the newspapers, or even by word of mouth, so we thought such an application (mPawa) was very useful because we could then have direct access to the people and the recruitment could be done within a weeks time so that we mobilised our work force as soon as we needed them," said Ocran-Edmund.
But Kwabena Nyarko Otoo the director of Labour Research and Policy Institute says as much as mPawa is an applaudable initiative, it hardly creates a significant impact on unemployment problems facing Ghana.
"A facility of this nature will certainly help, but given the scale, the challenge, the extent of the unemployment challenge or the state of joblessness we have, it might just be a tip of the iceberg, scratching the surface of the problem that we have, but certainly I cannot sit here and diminish the importance of such interventions in the labour market even though it doesn't go to the core of the problems we have in the labour market," said Otoo.
mPawa was one of five companies recently nominated at the Demo Africa Lions competition for being the most innovative startup in Africa, the annual event gives startups a chance to apply to launch new products and solutions.
The winners will represent the continent at the 2013 Demo in the United States.