It is no longer news that problem of unemployment plagues the African continent as made evident by the recent stampede and loss of up to 12 lives during Nigeria’s immigration recruitment exercise. The rise and rise of job sites on Alexa ranking is also another evidence of the good number of people online looking for jobs.
Having interviewed Nigerian based job finder startup – Jobberman, we reached out to Churchill Nanje Mambe, founder and CEO of Cameroon based Njorku for his take on the issue as well as other touch points from talent, startup challenges, mobile, and more.
1. Can you tell us more about Njorku – the product and service offerings?
Njorku is a career and recruitment platform for Africa. We have as ambition to serve all the millions of professionals in Africa with their career needs and in return help employers find the best professionals for the job. We are based in Cameroon but we are operating all over Africa.
2. How long have you been active for?
Njorku was launched in March 2011 that will make us 3yrs old.
3. What has the reception been like?
The reception has been way above our expectations. We have an index of 1million+ job records in our job search engine aggregated from sources all over Africa.
We have thousands of daily job seekers that are happy with our services and hundreds of employers that are making us keep our office doors open.
4. Tell us about the team behind Njorku?
The team behind Njorku is made up of seasoned professionals in Africa and the African diaspora which comprises mostly of young dynamic engineers, business, marketing and sales professionals. Our team is dispersed around the world in Canada, USA, France, and Africa.
5. What need does your startup meet?
We try to make it easy, fast and affordable for the average African to find information about jobs and their career from all the sources available to them. We then use this data to make the lives of employers even better.
6. What is your business model – revenue and marketing?
Njorku doesnt make money yet, and we are not yet looking at making money. But our revenue model is kind of a Free/Premium one hence a “Freemium” model. We will offer our services for free and then sell premium services along. Alot of our clients are already asking to pay for premium services but we are not rushing as we always want to do everything right before engaging. Apart of our freemium model, we have also tested other revenue models that have shown early success but I cant talk about those right now.
7. What are the challenges you face as a startup and how have/are you overcome(ing) them?
We face alot of challenges in finding the talents that we need to build our platform hence why we are building the platform in the first place and we also had issues raising initial startup capital but overtime alot of investors are getting interested and that problem is gradually disappearing. Our major problem which is finding talent, mostly engineering talent is being solved by myself and the team dedicating some of their time to train smart young people so they can later join our team.
8. What are your milestones since launching?
Well our major milestone was reaching an index of 1million job records and we got to that in January 2014.
9. What are your plans for the future of Njorku?
We have a goal of impacting millions of lives in Africa within the next couple of years and our target value is 60 million professionals in our index by that time. We might get to the goal or we might surpass it but in essence, everything we do is directed towards achieving this regardless of everything else.
10. As an entrepreneur, what’s your take on the local tech landscape in Cameroon
The local tech landscape in Buea, Cameroon is growing very fast and I see alot of young people getting into startups and engineering products every day. Compared to 5 years ago I could count the number of people that even knew how websites work but now I cant count people that can build you a social media platform from scratch within weeks. As for tech in Africa, I see alot of big money investment coming in and I believe the sector will grow to over 300 billion per year within the next 10 to 15 years and that will change the lives of alot of African families.
11. Any opportunities you see on the horizon for the local tech ecosystem?
Well I see a lot of opportunities else I would use Njorku and get a job in a bank or telco 😉 – The opportunities are endless and its just a matter of time before you start seeing billionaires in USD right here in Africa who earned their fortunes via technology and computing.
12. You seem to run a web service, while people say Africa is a mobile-only continent, what’s your response to that?
Well I believe mobile is over-rated… the average smartphone can access a full blown website and the mobile screens are small and limited which doesn’t provide enough space for beginners to get to understand your product. I believe more in web first and then mobile. Before your users get to mobile they would already understand clearly how the product works, have that perspective and easily get to use your mobile app.
For some cases like communication apps that usually have limited options which have no business on the web, like you want to build a phone calling app or a text messaging app, its clear you must do that mobile first. But if you want to build like an exam preparation app, you must build the web first before you can build the mobile app. So I believe in web first before the mobile app comes later and with critical mass, your app will get distribution easily and fast via your website.
13. What’s your competitive advantage over other players like Jobberman and Insidfy?
I dont see Jobberman or Insidify as competitors. I focus on serving millions of Africans which might include Nigerians but what we are building is nothing like what Jobberman or Insidify offer and to me we all can serve the same job seekers and do very fine. I like the fact that Nigerian job seekers have more options which is a good thing. Njorku would be able to partner up with Jobberman and get a win/win outcome, thats how I see things, its more like Facebook and Twitter.
14. What’s your target market?
Njorku is an Africa wide career and recruitment platform. We target all the 53 countries in Africa.
15. Any question you wished we should have asked?
No not really, thanks for everything.
[Photo Credit: All images provided by Njorku]