The surge of Africa's gig economy in recent years can be attributed to technological advancements, expanded internet access, and shifting consumer patterns. This trend brings several advantages to workers, businesses, and governments. For workers, it offers the flexibility to choose when and where to work, potentially leading to higher earnings compared to traditional employment. For businesses, it serves as a cost-efficient means to accomplish tasks without the necessity of hiring full-time staff.
While the gig economy provides flexibility and cost-effectiveness, it also presents challenges, including concerns related to job stability, access to benefits, and navigating legal complexities. Limited access to startup capital and necessary skills poses significant hurdles for workers. Government entities encounter their own set of obstacles, such as taxation and the enforcement of regulations, within this rapidly evolving landscape.
Notwithstanding the associated challenges, several innovative African startups have recognized the pressing need to combat unemployment on the continent and have taken proactive steps to address this issue by creating freelance marketplaces. These platforms provide a vital link between skilled professionals and job opportunities, both regionally and globally. By empowering freelancers to offer their services to a diverse clientele, these startups are not only fostering entrepreneurship and self-reliance but also contributing to economic growth. The gig economy in Africa is becoming a dynamic force, offering a lifeline to many who would otherwise struggle to find stable employment. This movement not only represents an economic opportunity but also a way to harness the vast pool of talent within Africa, particularly among its tech-savvy youth.
As these freelance marketplaces continue to grow and flourish, they play a crucial role in addressing unemployment and changing the narrative of work in Africa. Below are five of such startups, powering the digital economy in Africa.
FLIP Africa is a freelance marketplace that connects skilled African youth with dignified short-term work. The platform provides small and emerging businesses with easy access to highly skilled, well-rated, and on-demand professionals.
Founded in 2018 in Kampala, Uganda by Neha Pandya, Abu Musuuza, and Timothy Laku, FLIP Africa emerged as a response to the prevailing economic challenges within Uganda and the broader African context. Notably, Uganda boasts of one of the world's youngest populations, with 78% of its inhabitants aged under 35. Despite this youthful demographic advantage, more than 90% of the country's workforce struggles with unemployment, underemployment, or precarious employment conditions.
FLIP Africa was founded with the aim of addressing these labor market disparities and promoting economic growth within the region.
Gebeya is a Pan-African online freelance talent marketplace founded in Ethiopia in 2016 by Amadou Daffe and Hiruy Amanuel.
Gebeya specializes in providing access to pre-vetted and highly skilled African software developers, graphic designers, project managers, and other tech professionals. The platform aims to help bridge the global tech talent gap while empowering African talent. Additionally, the platform offers comprehensive training and certification programs to help individuals enhance their skills and become market-ready tech professionals.
The platform enables clients, both within Africa and globally, to find and hire vetted tech professionals for projects. This facilitates remote work opportunities, providing African tech talent with access to a global client base. Also, the diverse and inclusive talent pool allows both experienced and entry level professionals to find work opportunities.
The company aims to become an active contributor to Africa’s digital transformation and build a booming Africa through leveraging continental and global job opportunities for African talent.
Established in 2020, AfriBlocks is a two-sided marketplace that connects skilled freelancers with clients globally, offering their professional services at competitive rates. This platform is redefining the way African professionals engage in work, concurrently addressing the challenge of unemployment. Business owners can post job opportunities, hire freelancers, assemble teams, and facilitate effective communication to ensure the success of projects.
In 2021, Afriblocks joined the Techstars Seattle class of 2021. In the same year, AfriBlocks was presented with a $100,000 cash award as part of Google’s US Black Founders Fund.
The founders Tongayi Choto and Roger Roman are on a mission to connect freelance talents from Africa to clients all over the world.
Aya is a curated marketplace for start-ups and mid-level businesses to access vetted web3 digital skilled African talents.
Founded in 2021 by Eric Annan in Ghana, Aya's goal is to channel Africa’s potential to the forefront of Web3 and Blockchain advancement by constantly nurturing talents, empowering founders, and fostering a community that uplifts the continent.
Wowzi is a global technology company that facilitates connections between SMEs, multinationals, creative agencies, research firms, and NGOs with a diverse community of African creators. Wowzi offers an online marketplace that democratizes influence, connecting everyday social media users with big brands, enabling nano and micro creators to earn money by spreading brand messages via social media. The platform is basically designed to help brands automate influencer marketing workflows and programs.
Founded and headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, Wowzi boasts a robust presence with teams operating in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and across various European locations.
The gig economy in Africa is a dynamic force that is reshaping the world of work on the continent. As innovative freelance marketplace startups continue to emerge, African freelancers have the tools they need to connect with global clients and build successful careers. With the right support and infrastructure, the gig economy in Africa has the potential to transform the lives of millions and drive economic growth across the continent.