As the Internet space opens up space to both established tech entrepreneurs and startups, more people and firms are joining the cue to tap the emerging opportunities targeting the current big number of Internet users with platforms to cash in on the traffic generated and popularise their brands.
One of those people is Jussi Hinkkanen, the chief executive officer of Fuzu Limited, an online advisory and career platform that links job seekers with placements whenever openings arise.
Users of the platform can access it through their mobile phones, tablets, PCs and laptops. It offers all its services online. Fuzu, Kiswahili word meaning ‘to qualify,’ was founded in 2013 in Finland.
It is owned by a team of private investors including Robert Kimani, the former chief executive officer of Brighter Monday, who recently joined the team as the business development head in East Africa.
The idea to start Fuzu came about in 2010 when the investors organised a large conference in Kenya and needed to hire a driver.
“We published the position in newspapers and got more than 1,000 applications. It was clear that neither the paper-based recruitment nor web-based job portals were effective in finding the right candidate. We also realised that most job seekers had never received any counselling and felt disappointed with existing solutions,” Mr Hinkkanen told the Business Daily.
“For employers, Fuzu offers a set of tools to automatically analyse the job seekers’ curriculum vitae (CV’s), testing the candidates through online psychometric and talent tests, marketing the company as an attractive employer and for training of the staff,” he said.
Born 40 years ago in Finland the Master of Science degree holder from Tampere University of Technology in Industrial Economics and Software Sciences, worked with the Kenyan government and several tier-1 companies in catalysing the Kenyan innovation and startup ecosystem from 2009.
Focusing on employers
“During the time I worked as Nokia’s Vice President for the India, Middle East and Africa region responsible for strategic partnership, government relations and innovations.
I was also one of the founders of mLab Eastern Africa at iHub, a business incubator focusing on mobile startups,” he said.
Fuzu is focusing on employers on the entire market, from small and medium enterprises to large corporations.
“Our intention is to change the game by moving the bar in the online career space. Also our business model differs from our competition,” he pointed out.
Its market entry in September was funded by private investors, the Rockefeller Foundation and Finn Partnership.
Fuzu cites Kenyan job sites and international ones like LinkedIn as their primary competitors.
“Our projection is to become profitable by end of 2016 and to have more than 1.3 million users at that point,” said Mr Hinkkanen.
By end of 2017 Fuzu plans to have 10 million users on its platform.
Currently, the platform is working with more than 50 Kenyan tier-1 companies to improve its products. It also has a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation to boost employment of high potential youth in the digital job space.
“Similarly we work with Accenture in introducing free-of-charge learning content to job-seekers,” said Mr Hinkkanen.
But despite the increased use of Internet in the country, the firm cites, reaching a certain crop who are still stuck in the paper-based CV job application process as a challenge.
“Old habits die hard. We’ve found out that job seekers are used to sending out paper format CV’s and cover letters,” said the Fuzu CEO.
Similarly, he said some employers still view the existing solutions offered by firms such as Fuzu with a level of distrust.
“In general there is limited trust towards innovators and new ideas in Kenya. We need to change that,” he said.
But generally, Mr Hinkkanen sees opportunities for growth in the region.
“The formal job market is larger and general digital suaveness is higher. The countries that have embraced digital transition, including Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda and few others are definitely leading the change,” said Mr Hinkkanen.