A job matching startup in Jordan

ShababJobs.com is the first online job-matching portal in the Arab World to specialize in part-time & shift-based jobs. Shabab means youth in Arabic. I met with the founder Fadi Sawaqedy and talked to him in detail about his experience founding and leading a technology based startup in Amman.

In the US, job sites like Monster.com have a dedicated section for part time jobs. SimplyHired.com just uses search filters to enable users to look for part time jobs. Only Snagajob has a differentiated focus on part time and shift-based jobs.

ShababJobs understands the unique recruitment  needs of companies in industries that are highly dependent on shift-based and part time employees. They focus on empowering employers to find qualified candidates that are a 100% fit. They enable recruiters in industries such as Retail, Fast Food, Apparel, Customer Service and many others to effectively target job seekers when they subscribe to Shababjobs.

ShababJobs has built tailored screening and assessment tools to enable employers to filter and evaluate hundreds of applications with ease. It also offers Facebook integration so that job seekers can search and apply for jobs directly from employer’s Facebook page.

Business model:

Unlike traditional job boards, ShababJobs does not charge per job posting (PPP – pay per post approach). The business model is tailored to meet the specific needs of the employers who need part-time/shift-based workers. Employers have unlimited job postings. They can announce when the need arises. They only pay for applicants that match the job requirements, this model gives those employers a much higher return on their job advertising costs.

Market size & description:

In Jordan around 70% of the population between the ages of 15 to 24 use the Internet, a number that continues to grow rapidly.

* http://www.insightsmena.com/

The number of job seekers applying for positions online is also growing. It may come as a surprise but actually, employees with LESS than a Bachelor’s degree represent 74% of the total Jordanian workforce. 68% of these haven’t completed high school!!

* Jordan Ministry of Labor annual report 2011

  • Workers under the age of 24 filled around 209,000 jobs in Jordan in 2011.

  • 26% of newly created jobs are from the Services Sector, a total of 17,160 jobs in 2011.

I love this startup and feel that they are actually making a difference. Fadi looked at the market figures and did something that makes sense, adds value, and solves a real problem. Things are not all rosy as its commonly the case with startups.

Challenges:

Despite a clear focus on the local market and securing paying customers including employers like Ikea, Subway, and Pepsi, ShababJobs is still facing many challenges:

  1. Limited number of mature investors (Angel and VCs). Many investors have unrealistic expectations of startup investments. They expect the startup to reach profitability and get a positive return on their investment in a short amount of time without taking too much risk. ShababJobs has paying customers and a proven business model but still its hard for Fadi to secure a series A venture round. This is mainly due to the fact that most VCs here are finance/accounting guys that care about ROIs and fund performance. Unlike Silicon Valley, where the VCs are usually serial entrepreneurs or seasoned industry executives with strong technical/business backgrounds.

  2. Within the few Angels and VCs in the market, only a couple focus on early stage technology startups. Yet there is a large number of technology startups spawning in the region. Many startups, few sources of capital, lots of competition.

  3. The current economic situation makes people more resistant to change and less likely to adopt new solutions. Fadi has seen this in both the public and private sectors.

  4. There is a lot of hype and buzz around startups and entrepreneurship in the MENA region. However, there is no real metrics to differentiate good startups from bad ones. Feels a lot like Silicon Valley during the dot com era (lots of activity and hype but no real game changers). I wish the focus shifts into actually solving real problems, problems that people do care about, that add value to society and creates jobs.

  5. Closing an investment round takes 6-12 months. That’s like 6-12 years for a startup.

  6. Finally, government regulations around e-commerce and online payments are still unclear and that introduces an unknown risk that can be a huge blocker in the near future.

I hope that entrepreneurs in Jordan can start focusing more on actual problems that people are facing everyday instead of trying to copy international successes and replicating them in the region. I wish Fadi and ShababJobs the best in taking their company to the next stage. If you anyone is interested in talking to Fadi, contact me and I can make the intro.

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By Moh Posted in Tech

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