by Akbar Khan Durrani, Youth Employment and Private Sector Development Specialist, UNDP Pakistan & Dr. Musstanser Tinauli, CEO  Fori Mazdoori

 

As we leapfrog towards a digital transformation and massive automation, a significant gap remains in the labour market especially in developing countries, as the majority of the population is still offline. In Pakistan, communities still lack access to the internet or are not aware of how to use it effectively. This is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity to explore ways to connect communities to the digital world. Particularly in Pakistan, it is a challenge as the current internet penetration is only at 22.2%[1]. The unemployment is expected to increase to 6.1pc[2](. However, on the other side the internet penetration has increased from 17.8% since 2016 and the teldensity has now reached a massive 73.28% according to PTA. This presents an opportunity for us to facilitate the youth in equipping themselves to better reach the work opportunities and a lifestyle through digital and financial inclusion. The magic of Fori is that all its registered users particularly those with a simple feature phone become indirect beneficiaries of internet.

According to the National Human Development Report 2018 (NHDR) of UNDP, unemployment among youth is higher than the national unemployment and over 70 percent of the skilled workers in the country are trained to work [BT1] in the informal sector of the economy. With only 22.2% internet users and a population of 64% youth – the majority of youth are still offline! Therefore, UNDP is supporting the Fori-initiative to expand its database of skilled workforce to connect offline youth trained as part of the UNDP’s Kamyab Jawan Pakistan[3] Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) with prospective employers in the industry across the country. UNDP’s Kamyab Jawan Pakistan’ YEP is aimed at reducing young people’s vulnerability to involvement in anti-social behaviour through a range of interventions aimed at creating opportunities for knowledge, skills and leadership development; active citizen and policy engagement; and economic empowerment as means and ends to sustaining peace in Pakistan.

The partnership will strengthen Fori Mazdoor’s ongoing formation of a nexus of collaborations for a singular platform with an open-API structure. The partnership will digitally connect qualified and skilled labour trained by UNDP programmes with prospective employers in the industry to increase the employment rate.  Together we are working to innovatively contribute to the achievement of SDG 8- ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’. This is the first of its kind collaboration between UNDP and a thriving startup in Pakistan. The partnership will provide much needed outreach support to Fori Mazdoori (مزدوری فوری) in scaling up and enable the startup in exploring impact-investing opportunities.

The Fori Mazdoori platform allows potential employers to search for skilled-workforce near a digital user as-well-as enables the workers to become part of the Fori database by walking-into any of Fori enabled physical retailer outlets across Pakistan. Fori Mazdoori has setup the retail network by working together through unique partnerships with the telecommunication sector, banks and courier companies with major physical retail presence.

The platform enables the workforce to start receiving benefits of the digital world such as online presence, user ratings, network of friends, feedback of employers and a digitally traceable history without the workers needing a smart-phone or access/know-how of internet. This partnership will help in Fori’s, aim to on-board one million workers into the Fori platform within the year. It is focused on contributing to on-boarding the next 1 billion users particularly the currently offline community.

 The unique collection of data will allow for two major insights:
1.      A geo-location based demand of the workforce  - See Figure 1
2.      An approximate geo-location presence of the workforce.

Snapshot of 1 Million skilled profile views on Fori Mazdoori

The NHDR emphasizes the need to improve the quality of employment, focusing on reducing unpaid and casual employment. The insights generated from the platform will contribute as it is a stepping stone towards reducing underemployment in Pakistan by matching trainings with demand. 

Furthermore, as automation continues to grow across industries, finding new roles for redundant workers will become the next immediate challenge that would require solving, both for the developed and the developing world.  The insights would lead to better match making for its users to get better and more frequent jobs. The technology will allow for an enhanced promotion of the increased placement of the youth, women and men – particularly the underprivileged. The platform has the capacity to promote artisans and the traditionally skilled alike. It can also empower potentially millions of workers, up-skill them through training partners, digitally and financially include them, provide them insurances, healthcare, work-history and much more. All of it through partnerships and collaborations. Equally, the importance of digital education cannot be stressed enough as software coding has been identified as next biggest blue-collared job by top magazines such as ‘Wired’.  It is very important to help start preparing for the next decade.

About the Startup:

Fori Mazdoori (Fori) is a smart-labour initiative and helps connect blue collared workers with potential employers. It's maybe seen as a LinkedIn of blue collared workers. Workers can also self-register using a USSD menu with one of our telecom partners. The laborers to become part of the Fori system neither require a smart-phone nor access to internet. They can walk-into our expanding retailers network across Pakistan. Once registered the workers start getting the incentives digital media such as online presence at forimazdoori.com, ratings, network of friends, verifications and feedback from employers. Fori raised initial investments as convertible notes and is on a lookout for new partners, investors and collaborators to scale across Pakistan and the developing world. Fori has also won several awards such as top 15 startups at Startup Istanbul, a best startup award at Startup Expo Islamabad and top 4 startups at Momentum Tech Conference. Fori can be followed on twitter @forimazdoori and on facebook.com/forimazdoori. 

 

[1] internetworldstats[1]

[2] IMF forecast for 2018

[3] Successful Youth

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