John Kubaso has in the last decade earned a living as a plumber and has no regret of taking up a vocation that is highly valued in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi.
The 41 year old father of four used to get temporary assignments of fixing leaking pipes by standing at the intersections of busy streets and looking for potential customers.
These days, Kubaso relies on online talent platforms such as Lynk and Ujuzy to be linked to customers.
“These platforms are very convenient because I can find temporary jobs from the comfort of my home through my smartphone,” Kubaso told Xinhua on Friday.
Kubaso credits the use of digital platforms on his increased wages and he is now able to comfortably cater for basic needs of his family.
He is among thousands of skilled and semi-artisans ranging from hairdressers to housekeepers who have signed up on online platforms to find potential customers.
Data from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) indicates that the country has a mobile penetration rate of 106.8 percent.
The proliferation of smart phones coupled with affordable mobile internet rates has made it easier and viable for the development of mobile applications that link skilled workers and their potential customers.
The platforms reduce the need for skilled workers to have offices to run their operations from as they can link up with customers online.
Chris Maclay, chief operating officer, Lynk Kenya said the digital platform has so far connected 1600 skilled artisans to customers.
Maclay added that in the developed economies, online talent platforms have led to expansion of the gig economy, where once formal jobs are now performed by temporary workers who are only paid for the services they offer.
“However, in developing country such as Kenya which currently does not have a larger formal sector, the online talent platforms could be used to improve the pay for informal sector artisans,” said Maclay.
He revealed that the online platforms also help to improve the earnings of skilled professionals such as electricians and masons in the country.
The digital platforms also enable homeowners to search for electricians, carpenters and masons who can carry out renovation in the construction sector.
The widespread uptake of the mobile apps has been accelerated because they provide customers with trustworthy professionals.
Before one is registered as a skilled worker, he must undergo vetting to ensure that he has the requisite skills to perform the job that has been requested.
Emerson Kurgat, who has used the digital platforms to source for a baby sitter, said that their key selling point is that they used verified professionals who are keen to protect their reputations so that they can get future job assignments.
Kurgat noted that the online platforms have the potential to transform Kenya’s economy where over 70 percent of workforce is in the informal sector.