On January 25th, Seattle Techstars announced its 12th class of courses, which included 10 startup companies from all over the world. The accelerator only accepts the services of a few African start-ups, including such accelerators from Zimbabwe.
AfriBlocks is a global pan-African market for censored African freelancers. The startup was founded by Tongayi Choto and Roger Roman in July 2020 and has offices in Harare and Los Angeles.
The company is trying to solve the high unemployment rate that plagues many African countries by making it easier for people to find jobs. There are many international and local freelance websites that can meet these needs. Nonetheless, according to CEO Choto, most of them offer too many options without proper review procedures.
"It is difficult to find freelancers in Africa. If clients are lucky enough to overcome these obstacles and find freelancers with whom they can work, they often do not have the appropriate collaboration tools to complete the project accurately and in a timely manner."
AfriBlocks stated that in the global freelance market valued at more than US$800 billion, AfriBlocks achieves this goal by equipping African freelancers with intuitive collaboration tools and a secure payment system (making it easy to complete remote contract projects).
When a job is posted on its platform, the company claims that they save customers the trouble of perusing the profiles and portfolios of thousands of freelancers. Instead, they use automated tools to match three freelancers who qualify as users.
Similarly, AfriBlocks assigns project managers to selected freelancers who manage the project through completion. After the job is completed, AfriBlocks collects transaction fees and releases payment from the escrow. This ensures clear expectations and meets freelance and client deadlines.
In addition, Choto said, the company provides community and development resources to help them improve their skills and stay competitive in the global market. This was done in collaboration with the edtech company Coursera and the African non-profit Ingressive for Good. It is also in dialogue with the online learning platform Datacamp to do the same for data scientists.
For most African start-ups, it is difficult for this team to obtain funding. Guiding seems to be the only measure that can be taken, and it seems to have brought them far. In less than a year, the company has recruited more than 2,000 freelancers and more than 400 buyers. It also completed as many as 250 jobs and generated more than $60,000 in revenue. This progress has attracted companies such as Techstars and Google to provide funding and networks for it.
"We have encountered problems faced by many black founders, such as scarce fundraising channels. However, organizations such as Techstars Seattle, Transparent Collective, and Google for Startups provide guidance, establish networking opportunities, and showcase investor demo days. , Provided us with help." Roman said.
AfriBlocks has joined Farmcrowdy, OnePipe, Riesevest, Eversend, OjaExpress and other African startups, which have participated in different Techstars accelerators around the world.
Prior to AfriBlocks, Choto, who grew up in Zimbabwe, worked as a product manager at BillMari, a pan-African remittance service using Bitcoin technology. For Roger, who grew up in the West Side of Chicago, he is an angel investor and a venture capital detective.
It is estimated that by 2030, freelancers will account for 80% of the global workforce. Freelancing has become a viable source of employment, and it has shifted from a job that people are engaged in to increase income to a source of work for full-time Africans.
AfriBlocks' long-term goal is to build a technological infrastructure for future work in Africa. According to the company, participating in Techstars is the right way to reach the destination.
"Considering the imminent global talent shortage, which may result in 85 million job vacancies and a loss of US$85 trillion per year, our long-term goal is to make Africa a global hub for technology and creative freelancers by providing convenience for businesses. Work in Africa and have remote talents from Africa." Giotto said.