DUMA: The Future of Hiring in the Developing World

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DUMA: The Future of Hiring in the Developing World

Countrywide, beginning in Nakuru and Eldoret and expanding to Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisiii, KenyaWilmington, United States
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

DUMA is an SMS-based job matching service that connects short-term laborers and potential customers in emerging markets.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The ability to earn an income is the driving force behind health, happiness, and a better future for the next generation. We believe that in countries where unemployment rates are sky-high, every lost opportunity to earn an income is unacceptable. Which is why we have created DUMA, a text message-based service that uses basic phones to connect short-term workers & customers in emerging markets. The problem we see is a disconnect in the entire ecosystem between service providers & customers, especially in the short-term labor market.. In fact, the only way that people currently find temporary workers is through word of mouth, relying completely on referrals from family and friends, and sometimes even disregarding skill sets of the worker. This is where DUMA comes in.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

DUMA is a text-message based job-matching service that connects short-term laborers with potential consumers in real time, through the click of a button on a basic cell phone. We are the ideal matchmaking system for jobs, in markets where employers value trust above all during the hiring process. Our unique software pairs employers with job seekers that they are socially connected to (a friend of a friend of a friend) in their city who has the skills they are looking for. All this can occur in seconds and on a basic mobile phone. MOBILE DEVICE, NOT COMPUTER: Our text messaging system makes DUMA the most accessible platform for workers and customers without access to broadband. REAL-TIME, NO LAG TIME: For short-term jobs, people demand pre-screened matches to begin working immediately. SKILL MATCHING + SOCIAL MATCHING: Trust is a huge component of hiring in emerging markets. DUMA adds value to a job search engine by incorporating a reference network into its matching system.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Through an online registration accessible through desktop and mobile browsers, a user lists his phone number, geographic location, job experience and skills, and “reference network.” The reference network consists of the people whom an individual would contact if he were looking for a job, looking to hire, or whom he has worked with in the past (a social network of sorts, but for jobs). These contacts receive a verification SMS to confirm that they know this individual and that they would indeed like to be referenced by him. When a customer has a job opening (perhaps he needs a taxi to take him to town), he sends a text message to DUMA. In this SMS, the customer specifies the type of job he needs completed, the number of workers he needs, and his geographical location. Our software then finds the worker with a matching skill set and geographical location, who is most closely connected in the reference network (2 degrees of separation vs. 3). After the worker confirms his availability via SMS, our software sends an SMS to both the customer and the worker exchanging their respective phone numbers. A post-job rating system serves as a quality control mechanism for workers. DUMA is a for-profit enterprise with a double bottom line. We generate revenue from annual subscriptions for employers (2 USD) and monthly subscriptions for employees (0.30 USD). If an employee does not receive a job alert that month, his next month will be free. Payments from our users will be received through M-PESA, the mobile payment system that already has over 19 million subscribers in Kenya.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The only method currently in place to find workers for short-term, small jobs is via word-of-mouth from close contacts. There is a relatively strong network between friends and family who would recommend someone for a task, but this system tends to be slow, inefficient, restricts access to potential employees, and encourages hiring with a disregard for skills. There are websites in Kenya that act as job boards or online recruitment portals - for example Brighter Monday, Kenya Job Link, & Njorku - but these services typically target formal sector, long-term employment. There are also various mobile competitors that have been launched in the past year in Kenya: M-Kazi, Souktel, and Pigiame. These too do not offer targeted matching, and they are not catered to the temporary job market.

Founding Story

The initial idea was sparked from Christine and Arielle’s summer 2011 experiences in Kenya, where they observed first-hand how a decentralized and inefficient job networking system fosters nepotism, skills-mismatches, and under-productivity. They left Kenya wanting to create an effective and scalable way to help the local people they met find work. What started out as a conversation about unemployment in Kenya turned into a brainstorming session, which turned into a business plan, and then into a developing venture that they are fully committed to seeing through. Soon after coming up with the initial idea for a cell phone-based job matchmaking service, Christine and Arielle met and began working with Eric, a computer science major at Princeton. As a native of Kenya originally from Eldoret, Eric has been crucial in shaping the original concept into its current form. It has been an incredible journey thus far, and we hope to gain your support in continuing our efforts.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Country

, DE, Wilmington, New Castle County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, RV, Countrywide, beginning in Nakuru and Eldoret and expanding to Nairobi, Kisumu, Kisiii

Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

Since we began working on DUMA at a Startup weekend on the Princeton campus in November, we have gained an incredible amount of momentum. We were accepted into the Princeton eLab accelerator program over the summer, where we completed our software. We are currently running a private beta test in the transportation industry in Nakuru. We have won various awards and grants from entrepreneur competitions, such as mtvU/Ashoka Youth, Princeton Tigerlaunch Competition (2nd place), Princeton Pitch Competition (runner up), Kairos Society Member, Kairos 50, Princeton StartUp Weekend 3rd place and winner of Twilio API prize. We were also semifinalists in the Echoing Green Fellowship. We have received recognition in media in the USA, such as a feature in the Forbes magazine: “Top 5 Most Exciting Kairos Companies,” Genius Country: “Faces of Innovation: eLab - The First Class,” Princeton Alumni Weekly: “Entrepreneurs Develop Ideas at Startup Weekend,” and “Tigerlaunch 2012 Rewards Top Student Entrepreneurs.”

Lastly, throughout the process of building DUMA, we have created many valuable relationships. We have met twice with the Hon. Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN. During our conversation with her, we met the Minister of Labor of Kenya, Hon. John Munyes, who we look forward to speaking with further when we're in Kenya. We have also spoken with Nick Hughes, one of the key players behind MPESA and John Simon, the former Ambassador to the African Union.

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Cost.

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)

Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

We have just begun putting our business plan into motion. We are in the second week of our private beta in Nakuru, Kenya. We are targeting the transportation sector as our initial market, which includes motorbike and taxi drivers. We have just enrolled 20 people to test out the software from a technical perspective. However, we are working out a partnership with KEMORA (which manages 70,000 drivers across Kenya), and with their help, we hope to have 350 drivers and 1000 customers, averaging 100 job posts per day, by January 2013.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

DUMA builds income, confidence, and stability for the underemployed and unemployed in urban areas of Kenya. Our goal is a 15 USD increase in income/employee/month, which is about half the urban poverty line. In doing so, we hope to alleviate the direct impacts of poverty like unsafe living conditions and food insecurity, while empowering people with a sense of social significance. By helping people get off the street and find temporary jobs, we improve their chances of securing stable and higher-income jobs later on.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Externally, we anticipate obstacles in both entering and operating in the Kenyan business market. Strong community partnerships and the help of an advisory board will guide DUMA through the bureaucracy and nuances of the Kenyan professional sector. Market research will also be crucial for determining how to advertise DUMA to the community. We are currently planning a large-scale survey with members of our target community to ensure that our services match consumer demands. Internally, our main challenge will be identifying reliable and qualified employees for sales, marketing, customer support, and software maintenance. We have already started interviewing candidates for these positions, based on references from our personal contacts in Kenya.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Expand from Nakuru to Nairobi

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Hire 5 full-time employees to form a sales & marketing team

Task 2

Form partnerships with at least 20 labor unions and technical schools

Task 3

Enroll 5,000 workers and 10,000 customers, bringing in at least $25,000 in monthly revenue

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Expand to Eldoret, Kisumu, and Kisii

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Establish headquarter offices in Nairobi and set up branches in Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu, and Kisii

Task 2

Form partnerships with the government and telecom companies

Task 3

Enroll 25,000 workers, 50,000 customers, bringing in $150,000 in monthly revenue

Tell us about your partnerships

Throughout the process of building DUMA, we have created many valuable relationships. We have met twice with the Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, the Kenyan Ambassador to the UN. During our conversation with her, we met the Minister of Labor of Kenya, who we look forward to speaking with further when we're in Kenya. We have also spoken with Nick Hughes, one of the key players behind MPESA; and John Simon, the former Ambassador to the African Union. We have created partnerships with theater groups in Kenya for marketing purposes, and are solidifying a partnership with KEMORA to enlist workers.

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