Babajob: Informal Sector Jobs Marketplace

Babajob connects low-income job seekers with opportunities relevant to them, and employers with the right candidates in the informal sector. By leveraging scalable, digital technologies, we have built the largest informal and entry-level formal jobs marketplace in India that is accessible to BoP job seekers through multiple online and offline channels. Job seekers can register, find and apply to jobs all for free through a mobile phone, regardless of if they have access to the internet.

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About This Innovation

Babajob: Informal Sector Jobs Marketplace

Innovation Stats

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Babajob has been scaling up across India to reach more low-income job seekers and advance our mission of “Better Jobs for Everyone.”  We are focused on building the best possible platform for the informal and entry-level formal sectors, bringing the right job opportunities to job seekers.  Over the past few years, we have built an offline channel that allows job seekers to register, find and apply to jobs, all without the internet.  While internet penetration is rapidly increasing in India, many people at the BoP are still left out.  We will do everything we can to break this trend and are committed to working with partners who are doing the same.  But we still recognize that low-income job seekers may not have access to the internet for some time still, so we built an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, further described later in this application.
 
In order to better serve our job seekers better and develop new innovations to provide them the best possible service, we have begun building a robust research program called BabaLab.  This includes internal Babajob research, where we speak to our users to understand what we can improve, as well as involving external partners interested in our target demographic.  We work with researchers from a host of different renowned institutions on a range of different projects, all with an eye to enhancing our benefits for job seekers and creating a better match with relevant jobs. 
 
Additionally, we have engaged in a variety of partnerships in order to reach new groups of job seekers.  We are working with a host of different players in the Indian skilling ecosystem to see how best we can add value and contribute to the government’s skilling mission.  So far, we have built a platform that allows skilling institutes to mass upload their trained students to Babajob, creates a unique account for each of the student, and provides them access to information about relevant jobs, completely for free.  The training institutes also get data on their students and their post-graduation journey.  With a few close partners, we are also working on how we can give prospective students information about the right training opportunities for them.  We are also working on improving our services for marginalized groups in the labor force, specifically economic migrants, women, and persons with disabilities.  We are building innovations for each of these groups in order to offer them a better platform to find job opportunities and overcome traditional barriers they face when entering the workforce.

How does your innovation work?

Babajob is a tech-based social enterprise that gives low-income job seekers access to better jobs across India.  We were inspired by research from Duke University and the World Bank that found income diversification (i.e. changing jobs) is the primary path out of poverty.  Despite this finding though, low-income job seekers were not always able to follow this path.  Generally, workers in the bottom of the pyramid are forced to rely on their limited social networks to find new opportunities:  who you know defines how much you can make.  In addition, the job search process costs time and money.  On the other side, employers faced a similar problem when trying to hire in the informal sector.  They relied on referrals to find new employees, reducing the number and quality of possible candidates.
 
In order to address these problems, we built the largest informal and entry-level formal jobs marketplace in India, covering diverse job categories from maids, cooks, security guards, driver and delivery executives to call center employees, customer support and data entry.  Now job seekers can find better opportunities regardless of who they know or what resources they have available to them, and employers can find qualified applicants.  Babajob works to eliminate the information asymmetry in these sectors by connecting employers with the right candidates and low-income job seekers with relevant job opportunities.

To pursue our mission of “Better Jobs for Everyone”, we have developed a multi-platform system that allows job seekers to register, create profiles and apply to jobs both online and offline.  If job seekers have access to the internet, they can build a profile through our Android app or our website, either on a desktop or a mobile phone.  But since the majority of low-income job seekers either have limited access or none at all, we have built offline technologies that enable someone to create a profile and search for jobs without ever needing to go online.  Our primary offline method of registration is our Interactive Voice Response system.  Job seekers give a missed call to our number, then receive a call back and hear a series of questions about what type of job they want, where they want to work, what salary they expect, etc., which they respond to by pressing the number corresponding to their answer.  Their profile is automatically created and accessible to employers on our site, and we begin to send alerts about job opportunities relevant to them based on their profiles via SMS for free.  If a job appeals to them based on the alert, they can give a missed call to the number provided in the message, which will allow them to apply for the job by connecting them with employers after a set of job-specific screening questions.  Employers can then conduct a short phone interview, often setting up a follow-up in-person interview with candidates they want to take forward.  While this service is fairly new, we have already registered over 800,000 job seekers through IVR.  The process works similarly across channels, allowing for adaptations depending on the medium of registration or application.

What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?

While we have conducted several studies and captured a variety of user success stories, we cannot publicly share these results due to the competitive nature of our field.

Do you have current users or testers?

Babajob currently has over 6.1 million job seekers registered across more than 600 cities and villages in every state and union territory of India.  Every month, job seekers make over 550,000 applications to jobs in 26 different categories, completely for free.  The average salary offered for jobs on our site is about INR 9,657.64, or approximately USD 144.99 (66.61 INR: 1 USD) per month.  The current gender split for job seekers is about 25% women to 75% men, though we are working internally along with several external researchers on how to create a more gender-inclusive platform. 
 
On the other side of the equation, we have over 370,000 employers, who have posted more than 5.4 million job opportunities on Babajob.  The gender split of these employers is approximately 30% women to 70% men.  Employers come to Babajob for similar reasons to job seekers:  without Babajob finding qualified candidates and making the right match is very difficult to do in the informal sector.  This is particularly true for small to medium enterprises (SMEs:  businesses usually employing 10 people or less), who generally can’t afford the HR infrastructure operated by larger enterprises.  SMEs make up our largest category of employers, followed by households.  At Babajob, we are trying to reduce the difficulties these smaller hirers face when looking for the right employee.

What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?

We believe our IVR system will be crucial to providing our solution to BoP job seekers throughout the country, giving access to the more than 1 billion mobile subscribers.  The original version was available in English, Hindi and Kannada.  In order to reach even more job seekers, we have increased our language offerings to include Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi (the three languages combined have over 200 million native speakers).  We plan to add more as we continue, to make sure that job seekers across the country can use Babajob in their native tongue.  We have also been experimenting with ways to provide job alerts, traditionally provided via an SMS message, through automated voice calls to ensure that regardless of a job seekers literacy, they have access to better jobs.
 
In addition to our IVR channel, we are building high quality, light apps for job seekers and employers.  Smartphone penetration is rapidly increasing across India as phone manufacturers make cheaper and cheaper models.  There are brand new smartphones that cost approximately USD 30, to say nothing of the large secondhand market.  This expansion paired with the decreasing costs of data plans has led to an increase of internet usage as well, with most new users coming through their smartphones instead of desktop computers.  Our app will allow us to create richer profiles for job seekers and build better matches between employers and their hires.  We are excited about these trends and constantly looking for ways to allow our users to further benefit from them.

Next Steps

As mentioned above, we are developing a variety of new technologies to reach more low-income job seekers across India and building partnerships as well as product innovations to extend access to marginalized groups.  While we expand our reach, we are also honing our existing technology stack in order to enhance our impact for job seekers.  We also have plans to increase the services we offer job seekers in order to better help them find job opportunities, as well as connect them to resources they were unaware of previously. 
 
For employers, we are constantly working on making the process of identifying the right candidate for a job easier and improving the matches we make.  By doing this, we are working to reduce attrition, something that is costly for both employers and job seekers.  We are also experimenting with different ways to leverage the significant amount of data we collect to benefit our various stakeholders, whether it's sharing average salaries with job seekers so they know how much they should be earning, or the right conditions to offer in a job with employers so they can attract and retain talented employees.  As we continue refining our existing services and adding new ones, we are constantly working to be the best jobs marketplace for the informal sector and pursue our mission of “Better Jobs for Everyone.”

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