Ayagigs is a curated multi-purpose African talent marketplace for the Future of Work. In Africa, they are positioning themselves as an avenue where they match businesses with vetted professionals.
In Kenya for instance, the online gig economy is expected to grow by 33 percent over the next five years, to $345 million in 2023, employing a total of 93,875 gig workers, representing a growth rate of 27 percent according to a study conducted by Mercy Corps.
On the other hand, Aya Founder Eric Annan says Mastercard Foundation projects the total available market for Digital Professional services to be valued at $7.7 billion with a 17 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate.
Annan believes that Ayagigs has a Serviceable Available Market of $1.29 billion and a Serviceable Obtainable Market of $200 million.
To put everything into context, Khusoko sat down with Pishikeni Tukura, co-founder Aya to give meaning.
Kindly introduce yourself?
My name is Pishikeni Tukura. I am Nigerian by birth but African by Identity. I have spent the last 7 years working with small to midsize companies deploying applications in Digital Marketing, Supply chain finance, Intra-African remittance, and Blockchain.
My love for technology began when I started playing with computers in my mother’s business center as early as 7 years old. That set the foundation of my belief that technology makes life easier. Since then I have always found a way to optimize my life using technology.
I like to think of myself as a numbers guy, I could write out a two-page mathematical process but struggle to put down a 500-word essay (lol). I am challenged by the multiple innovations being churned out by the rest of the world and I am always left with the question, who will do this for mother Africa?
What makes AyaGigs an ideal place for the African talent marketplace?
For us at Aya, we know how important getting access to the right talent at the right time could be the difference between success and failure. My team and I have set up early-stage businesses that have failed due to the talent factor. This is why we have resolved to ensure that Aya and millions of other African businesses don’t face this same challenge.
At Aya, our key focus is building trust with these early-stage founders to solve their talent gaps while they focus on building their businesses. It’s difficult to properly identify a problem, proffer a viable solution, and drive traction with your target market. A lot of founders we have spoken with via our problem discovery process and manual matching system do not have any background in talent gap identification or talent sourcing. Most of them just rely on friends and family to get them the talent they need.
We have a talent pool that embodies our core values of Mutual Trust and Respect, Excellence, and Collaboration. We are in the business of connecting people who want to execute with companies that provide the right environment for them.
I know I have spoken a lot about the businesses but the more businesses we grow the more quality talent we can provide on our platform. We are giving resilient and resourceful African talent the ability to take their skills global and earn a decent income without having to risk crossing the mediterranean sea.
Share with us more about AyaGigs. How did you together with your partners join hands to develop the concept into a successful startup?
Ayagigs is a curated marketplace for businesses to access vetted Web3 African talent. I know you might ask why Web3?
First of all, Web3 is a general term used to describe blockchain and all its numerous applications. We have observed an ever-increasing number of companies who are either looking to launch their web3 value propositions or make it an additional value proposition to their users. What global companies have realized is that it’s a steeper technology learning curve and salaries are costly.
All of our manual process users are early-stage companies who are testing out their solutions and do not have so much cash to burn. We want to help them reduce the monthly burn rate and time to market by providing them with African talent to supercharge their business.
The process of ideation is continuous but what you start with is most times not what your market solution will be. I am grateful to have a dedicated team who are relentless in building both sides of our marketing and giving them a seamless interaction to build trust in this fragmented ecosystem.
How did the idea to create/ develop Ayagigs come about? (What is your mission)
Eric Annan, who serves as CEO/ Co-founder and I did not start out with Ayagigs. Our plan was to create a cryptocurrency peer-to-peer payment platform that enabled freelancers and businesses to interact seamlessly, whilst taking away the pains of global payments. We developed this P2P Platform (as it’s popularly called) and had about 100 users test the platform.
After speaking to these businesses and freelancers again, we realized that we were not solving their main problem which was giving these businesses an easier and trusted way to interact with African talent. We quickly pivoted in August of 2021 and started laying the foundation for our curated talent marketplace.
At Aya, our mission is to build a trusted platform bridging the gap between businesses and vetted African talent.
Why is Ayagigs specifically passionate about supporting Africa’s talent?
The Aya name and symbol derive its rich heritage from the Asante tribe in Ghana meaning resilience and resourcefulness. Over the years we have come in contact with African talent who have built their resilience and resourcefulness despite the economic challenges being faced.
The talent across Africa loses up to 20% of their earnings to high transaction fees and a significant amount to inflation of their local currencies. At Aya, we are giving them access to global opportunities and ensuring they retain most of their income. We are the ones who will build a better Africa and we are taking that decisive action by building a platform of trust that will serve as a global gateway to the heart of African talent.
What kind of talents/ entrepreneurs are you looking forward to attracting; which key sectors?
We are currently working with early-stage Web 3 businesses and helping them solve their technical and non-technical needs. Our vision is for Aya to help businesses build out their entire teams while they focus on growing the business.
We have a wide variety of talent from Software engineers to Writers to Voice artists etc. We welcome all talents who have a skill that can be transferred via digital means and are ready to execute so that they open a pathway for millions of others.
Why is empowering African talents through Ayagigs important to you?
I believe in mother Africa and no one is coming to rescue us. I am willing to play my part every day so that the next set of problem solvers will not have to start from scratch but ably stand on my shoulders to achieve more. I have non-governmental sector experience and I can tell you for a fact that if we come together as Africans to help ourselves, we will do more in 5 years than what they have accomplished over the last 5 decades. I am a strong believer in partnerships and that is why Aya is aggressively seeking partnerships across the continent because it’s not a task we can do on our own.
Which regions in Africa are you targeting to launch your MVP and timeframe or prospects to expand your operation?
We are launching the first version of our product in April 2022 and have already onboarded about 500 freelancers from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia. We are building a platform that accommodates Africans from any geographical location on the continent.
We are targeting global businesses that are solving global problems. By exposing our freelancers to models that work, we hope to see them start solving problems we face in Africa. There are a lot of early-stage founders we work with who are bringing their top experience from Global companies to build a better Africa.
How can entrepreneurs being onboarded utilize the platform effectively?
This is a very interesting question and is something we do uniquely. They can schedule a Talent requirements gathering session with our in-house Talent scouts to better understand the talent gap they have (especially for founders who do not have any technical or recruiting experience). This helps the business optimize its search on the platform coupled with our recommendation engine. Our goal is to help the business reduce its sourcing time by 50%.
What advice would you give to any entrepreneur venturing into such spaces?
It’s important to create a system where both sides of the market are equally valued. This is not a decision about who is the customer or user. The better you treat your businesses, the more trust you’ll build with them to get more value and the better you treat your talent, the more value they offer the businesses they work with.
How are you addressing competition in the same market?
On the competitive landscape, we are looking to grow with our businesses by solving their primary problem which is accessing great talent. The early-stage businesses of today become the unicorns of tomorrow. We want them to trust us with the core of their business which is Talent sourcing and development while they focus on their businesses.
We have an innovative approach when it comes to our freelancers and we are working on creating a talent supply chain that will ensure the constant quality of talent. We are achieving this by partnering with reputable training institutions that align with our mission.