When chaos erupted at Wollega University two years ago, one of the causalities was Teshome Gashaw, who was a second-year student at that time.
Teshome, born and raised in Debre Birhan, was forced to abandon his classes at the university and head to Addis Ababa with hopes of continuing his education.
But his plans failed to materialize for different reasons, and Teshome, who was living with his sister had to find a way to earn money and support himself.
Teshome took a short course on satellite dish installations, and just like that, he joined the labor market. He installed dishes as well carried out their maintenance.
As his job depended on referrals and the few small stickers he had put up around his neighborhood, almost all of his jobs came from the Megenagna area.
“I earned a good income and was able to move out of my sister’s home,” Teshome tells Shega.
Around six months ago, he saw an advertisement on telegram from a platform that is trying to change how independent workers like Teshome are operating.
Teshome is part of the gig economy that embraces everyone from housemaids, daily laborers, and plumbers to web developers, research consultants, and graphic designers whose work is short-term and does not require their presence in a permanent workspace. All of them are considered independent contractors.
With a background in electrical engineering, it didn’t take Teshome long to understand what the advertisement was for.
“It was like a Ride-hailing platform but where clients are connected with freelance workers like me,” said Teshome.
The ad he saw was from, GoodayOn, a technology company providing a gig connection platform. Meaning “business” or “errand” in Amharic, Goodayon connects service providers such as domestic help, tutors, nannies, maids, painters, plumbers, electricians, brokers, salesmen, and barbers, catering with service requestors.
GoodayOn, launched in September 2020 and headquartered in Addis Ababa, is accessible through a mobile app, both on android and IOS, as well as a call center, 9675.
The app uses geolocation to allow users to find gig workers within a 3km radius. The app enables users to surf and filter through listed service providers based on service categories. After finding a service provider that suits their needs, users can call or text the gig worker to discuss the work and negotiate a price.
The app recently added a feature that allows people to post gig jobs with the details on the platform. In this feature, service providers call clients upon seeing the ad on the app.
Since its launch in GoodayOn has got 50K+ downloads. The startup also has onboarded 15,000 service providers onto its platform, managing to make over 50,000 connections.
GoodayOn firmly pushes service providers to take training. This is intended to help the firm ensure the quality of its workforce, while its service providers also find ways to make extra income by learning new skills.
With the support of the MasterCard Foundation Bridges Programme GoodayOn has been recruiting gig workers in Addis Ababa for technical and soft skills improvement training.
GoodayOn gives trainees a basic introduction to digital literacy and how to use the app. The startup assesses their level of knowledge and skill and appropriates them to work category they are best suited for. Building on this, GoodayOn also teaches new skills to the trainees, expanding the ways they can earn money with.
The trainees receive certification upon completion of their training and are priority-listed on the platform for increased market exposure and linkage.
Teshome, too, upon registering as a satellite dish installer on the platform, also took training in related fields such as TV and fridge maintenance which has enabled him to be listed in more categories.
In addition, now the job goes with him where ever he goes. He turns on his mobile data and location while he is on the move as the application tracks his location and sends him job offers.
Teshome gets three to four jobs from GoodayOn per month, earning an average of 400 birr per job. Considering the early days of the app as well as the technology adaptation of the country, Teshome finds this very hopeful.
“The service is new in Ethiopia, and few people know about it. But even when they come across it, they have a certain level of doubt at first and want to test it before they commit,” said Tigist Afework, Co-founder & COO of GoodayOn.
GoodayOn receives many test requests on its app where people put demands, but when the team calls and checks, they say they were just experimenting. But this doesn’t deter the team and, in fact, say it’s a good sign.
“This means they are curious and are willing to give us a chance,” says Tigist.
This is where customer engagement comes into play. “It’s when we call them they know it’s real,” Tigist explains. From its call center, GoodayOn calls both parties before and after connections are made.
“If the service request comes through the app, first, we call and confirm what they need, and after some time has passed, we call again and check how the connection went. This type of operation helps us create a genuine connection with our users as well get real-time feedback,” she adds.
Besides this, the call center also plays a crucial role as the majority of requests come from calls. In such cases, the team receives the details and connects them with nearby service providers.
Some of the gig workers also do not own smartphones and GoodayOn pins their working location on the map, forwarding them jobs when gig requests come from their area. GoodayOn says it has now reached a dispatch time of 10 minutes for its requests that come through the call center.
Out of the registered service providers on GoodayOn, 11,000 are Verified Service Providers, 912 are Quality Service Providers, and 580 service providers hold COC (Certificate of Competency).
Verified service providers are service providers that have gone through basic KYC checks. While Quality Service Providers are service providers who received training from well-known institutions.
For now, the app uses these parameters to queue its service providers on the platform and decide on who gets priority when job requests come through. But Tigist says in the future, they will depend on reviews.
The app enables clients to leave a review of the gig workers, which the startup believes is the best way to compare the quality of service providers.
The Global Landscape
A 2019 Mastercard survey shows that the gig economy generated $204 billion in gross volume. Additionally, the gross volume is expected to grow to $455 billion by 2023.
Kenya, with a population of a bit over 50 million, had five million gig workers, according to another assessment issued by Mastercard in 2020. The report further showed that 80pc of gig workers accessed gigs through mobile, and 60pc of them joined a digital platform in the last two year
The State of Gig Economy in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, there are no reliable estimates on the size of the local gig economy, but recently there has been a growing list of private sector actors providing services directly or indirectly related to freelancing and gigs, primarily through digital means.
With Ethiopia’s youthful population quickly reaching 115 million, informal gig workers exist in the millions. Although digital platforms for gig work are only recently emerging, there is a great potential for them to scale to create millions of decent jobs in the next few years.
Apart from ride-hailing platforms that are also part of the gig economy, GoodayOn, Taskmoby, ShegaMuya, PickPro, Gigs Ethiopia, and Fetan – among others, are the main generic gig platforms in Ethiopia.
A report titled Ethiopia’s Digital Economy by an Ethiopian private equity investment firm, Cepheus Growth Capital Partners (Cepheus), that looked into the Ethiopian digital economy has found that gig platforms face challenges in regulatory requirements, a lack of reliable/consistent service providers, and the predominance of informal matchmaking alternatives.
In some cases, the report found that regulations are restrictive as current rules require that a matchmaking agency itself hold a competency certificate for each job category it offers.
Ministry of Labor and Skills has also recognized the gig economy as a crucial mode of employment for millions of citizens and should be supported with proper policy directives.
In September 2020, the Ministry established Freelancing, Outsourcing, and Gigs (FROG) Taskforce with the aim of placing FROG at the core of Ethiopia’s services sector transformation. The Taskforce which also includes GoodayOn among other sector role-players identifies linkages between freelancing, outsourcing and gigs business models as well as sharing best practices and information.
While this is ongoing more and more people are drawing into the app, and Hayat Shami is one of them. Around a month ago, her fridge broke down, and Hayat decided to try the GoodayOn service after someone had recommended it to her.
“I just called the call center, and they were quickly able to connect with me a technician,” said Hayat.
After finding the platform convenient, Hayat now has the app on her phone and says she will use GoodayOn for her future needs.
“This seems like a very easy way to get things down with no hustle,” she tells Shega.