In an interview with The Nation's Bukola Aroloye, Nigeria's Jobberman cofounder and Operations Manager, Lekan Olude, describes his company's humble beginnings.
Olude and his two partners launched the jobs portal in Nigeria seven years ago, and have since expanded into Ghana and established a strategic partnership in East Africa, making the jobs portal the biggest in the region.
According to Olude, the portal has been instrumental in reaching nearly 60,000 companies and approximately three million candidates apply for jobs online. However, even with such an impressive achievement, Olude believes they have a ways to go, stating: "Considering the fact that if you look at the companies registered with Corporate Affairs Commission, we have not even scratched the surface. If you also look at the workable population, we have not done anything."
The concept for Jobberman came about whilst Olude and his two partners were still in school during a strike. The soon-to-be entrepreneurs were not keen to return home; they opted to make the most of their situation so they started an online business, thus Jobberman was launched. As to why they decided to focus on jobs, Olude said, that they felt it was going to be of value to the many young people who were looking for work, and that it was bound to create a big impact.
The business moved along with some initial challenges but, "We were pretty clear on what we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to go about it. While we were in school, we were able to take things one at a time and improve on them," said Olude.
Once Jobber moved to Lagos, they received their first two major investments, with their big break coming in form of a partnership with MTN, the South Africa-based multinational mobile telecommunications company, operating in many African, European and Asian countries.
Olude's take on the obstacles the company has faced since its launch: "We have encountered challenges that every normal business in Nigeria faces, where you have to practically be your own ‘country’ in business.
In terms of policies, we have had challenges in terms of support from the banks considering the fact that banks hardly support internet companies.
This is because we don’t have assets and the only assets we have is our data and that doesn’t amount to anything for the banks. In terms of the country accepting the fact that the business has come to stay, it is also a challenge.
Nigeria is a country where big companies don’t want to leave space for the upcoming companies. So you fight your way into the space. It has been interesting because Nigeria is an interesting place. When you wake up in the morning, your life can change whether you are making money or not."
As far as Jobber's success rate, Olude said that the best way to determine this is, by seeing how many jobs were supplied to the portal by clients, and how many were filled. "We cannot provide jobs for everybody but the jobs that we brought out for people to see, the question is have we been able to fill those jobs? I will say yes. About 60 to 70% of the jobs that come to us are filled." Sating that the remaining 30 to 40% of jobs are not paired with candidates due to a shortage of specific skills not currently available in Nigeria.
As Nigeria churns out thousands of graduates every year, Olude was asked about the shortage of skilled employees. "Most of the roles that don’t get filled, are not graduates' roles. They are specialty roles and Nigeria has a huge brain drain. On a daily basis, people are carrying their bags and travelling out of the country and that is something to be worried about.
Our educational institutions have not fixed the issue of specialist roles. For example, in the power sector, the technology is trying to change to make power more accessible and reduce wastage.
But who are the people that are going to man these technologies. They have to bring them in. New roles are coming up but Nigerians are not filling them.
Technically, jobs are being created on a daily basis and information is not totally out there. Word-of-mouth is still the biggest channel of communication for jobs. Companies approach us for candidates and we also go to companies to ask them if they have vacancies."
When asked about his own company and what motivates them, Olude said: "Every human being wants some level of dignity and respect, from the driver to the CEO. The good thing about Jobberman is that a lot of us are young so it is pretty easy to get motivated. We try to ensure that at the time any staff comes to the company, and wants to leave, the staff becomes a better person from a financial and developmental standpoint."
He further stated that Jobberman strives to pay its employees favourable salaries, exposes them to speakers on engaging topics, organises social gatherings where the employees are encouraged to relax and have fun. The company has even looked to make it easier for its staff to travel to the office, so they have moved their headquarters from Lekki to Marina.
Olude's employees are encouraged to approach upper management and share new ideas which can help the business. When he was asked what sorts of people he hires, Olude said: "I love people that are intelligent, smart and knowledgeable. I like flexible people. I believe this life is not hard. I like humble people and those that love God."
The above article was sourced from The Nation and edited by G. Davila. Find the original article in its original form by clicking here.