Dubai based marketplace website Nabbesh has participated in the American University in Cairo’s seventh MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition Award Ceremony, which took place at the university’s campus on 22 May to encourage entrepreneurship and job creation in the country.
The Daily News Egypt sat down with the director of Communications & Partnerships at Nabbesh, Kara Schoeffling, who spoke on behalf of the company’s CEO Loulou Khazen Baz, to discuss the company’s latest employment plans.
What are Nabbesh’s plans in Egypt and will those plans be implemented through a specific platform or organisation?
Egypt right now is our fourth largest country in terms on membership. Our plans in Egypt are to go after the youth, both on the supply side, represented by job seekers and on the small to mediums enterprises (SMEs) side, which are the backbone of the economy here [in Egypt]. You probably have read the Google and Boston Consulting Group study on Egypt last year and I think it said that 90% of the actual businesses active here are SMEs and microenterprises.
So we see it as an opportunity for entrepreneurs, like the ones participating in the MIT forum. For example, those entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of money to be able to hire the most expensive talents, but with Nabbesh they have a chance to hire freelancers. These freelancer can be someone still going to school or working part-time with time on the side..
Egypt is in our backyard and we just see massive opportunity here. I think there are 700,000 youth that enter the labour market every year. We also see much energy in events like the one we’ve just participated in [the MIT forum]. We just see a lot of potential here. We really are excited with what we plan to do in Egypt.
We [Nabbesh’s team will be] coming to Egypt much more often. We will be working with universities, entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial community here. We also hope to get integrated with other universities and career centres, which is what we do in Dubai.
Are there plans to start communication with other universities and SMEs in Egypt?
Our plan right now is mainly educational because a lot of people here don’t know about us. They don’t know that this opportunity exists, both on the supply and the demand side. So, our plan is to spread awareness and to continue doing so through partnerships.
Talking about Egypt you said it’s the fourth largest country in terms of membership. Can you explain that?
Our largest share of members we have in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), followed by Lebanon and Jordan. Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) come in the fourth place and fifth place. The UAE is where we are physically located but we have team members throughout the region.
I think we have had over 3,000 applications made by Egyptian to jobs posted on Nabbesh’s website over the past year. The way it works in that the jobs don’t have to be here in Egypt. They can be in the UAE or in Jordon or in Palestine. Some of our jobs are location-based but most of them are flexible.
The company’s target for Egypt in 2014 is to double the numbers in the country in terms of applications made and members.
The hope is to work through freelance talent that can help spread the message here and then we can have a company representative in Egypt.
So you still don’t have an official office in Egypt?
We don’t have a physical office here.
Do you plan on having one soon?
We do. We’re seeking another round of funding which will enable us to expand in the way we want to. The funding will be coming from private venture capital. But right now with Egypt we are an online platform.
So the wonderful thing about how we work is that our message can be spread on Internet. What that means is that people can go to Nabbesh and sign up for free as a freelancer or as an employer. You can create a profile, which is much more visual than curriculum vitae. It is a much more a cross between Linkedin and Facebook.
Users can log in with Facebook and we’ll soon be integrated with Linkedin and import your data.
Can you specify the age you’re targeting and the acceptance rate?
About 75% of our members are under the age of 35. Our main target audience varies between 18 and 35. It is open for anyone. About the acceptance rate, it’s hard to answer that question because each job gets a different number of applications.
Nabbesh was launch in the United Arab Emirates in 2012.The purpose of Nabbesh in the beginning was to be a place where women and youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could find opportunities that fit outside of the nine to five model of work.
Since its launch in 2012, the company has grown to over 40,000 freelancers and has provided over 3,000 freelance job opportunities in MENA. Job seekers and SMEs can be located in different places around the world. For freelances who don’t have bank accounts, payments can be made through payment services.