SwiftAide: How a Kenyan Startup is Creating Job Opportunities

The gig economy is taking over the modern-day workforce. Gig workers are prominent in nearly every industry and trade worldwide, and they come with a range of experience and talents. They can be found in finance, health care, Web development, education, marketing, transportation, construction … and the list goes on.

With the advent of cloud-based technology, mobile apps and platforms, and smartphones, it has never been easier and more cost-effective to find, hire, and work with gig workers. In a short time, it is possible to find, hire, and on board a highly qualified professional for your business needs. In the following interview with StartUp Magazine, George Karimi, the founder and CEO of SwiftAide shares how the platform can benefit workers, businesses, and consumers by making work more adaptable to the needs of the moment and demand for flexible lifestyles.

Share a brief history of SwiftAide and its mandate?

SwiftAide is a Kenyan mobile marketplace that enables users to outsource everyday tasks while helping people find great local businesses and professionals.  One Sunday in May 2017, I found myself in an unsettling situation. My usual cleaning lady did not show up and I was forced to do my laundry on a very cold night since I did not have any clean clothes and I could not get someone else to do it for me. That’s when the idea popped up.

What did you set out to achieve?

SwiftAide works on a simple principle: busy people will pay someone else to run their errands. We want to make getting skilful aides as easy as hailing a ride via a mobile app.

Who do you target and how do you help them achieve their objectives?

We target the young professionals who are busy but demand a flexible lifestyle and don’t have time to do house hold or menial chores. We help them outsource such services at the comfort of their space, allowing them to focus on important aspects of their lives such as family and/or work.

We also seek to give a platform for the unemployed and skilled people like plumbers, mechanics, electricians, cleaners and gardeners among others. It basically gives them a lifeline to earn a living since the formal job market cannot absorb everyone.

The platform gives local businesses and professionals visibility on the digital stage. Let’s say you are looking for a Dentist near you, it is as easy as opening the app, analyse a dentist in your locality and procuring their services.

SwiftAide gets a commission for every completed job. Clients can pay directly from the app, which has a wallet connected to their mobile money accounts.

What can you term as your greatest achievement over time?

I loved and I still love hearing stories of people using our app to solve a problem successfully. As soon as we had it up and running, we immediately heard success stories. One in particular that really touched me was a manager who was working in Turkana and his Mum who lives in Nairobi was taken ill and rushed to hospital. So, he procured services of an aide who took fruits and flowers to the hospital and actually used the aide’s phone for a video chat with the Mum. It was such a relief for him.

The app is free on the Google PlayStore and we do not charge clients and aides so sign up. However, businesses can subscribe at a small fee. We currently have over 300 aides, 300 businesses and over 1000 clients using the app.

Which unique challenges have you faced? Any interventions?

There was a huge learning curve from building a product to building a company. When I first started, I was just building the technology and platform. Soon, I needed to understand marketing, financing and operations among others. I have never been to a business class, so I learned everything on the job.

Are there prospects we can look forward to?

Although we are only on major towns in Kenya, we aim to expand beyond our borders since we are seeing a major improvement in smart phone and internet penetration across the region and with the advent of 5G technology combined with mobile money, doing business would be very cost effective.

With many unemployed graduates and unemployed skilled workers, we hope that SwiftAide will become a lifeline for the unemployed workforce in the region.


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