Currently, there are about 700,000 professional developers across Africa. More than 50% of them are based in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. When compared to California which has about 630,000 developers, the picture of the tech talent shortage in Africa becomes clearer.
In 2016, two Ethiopian entrepreneurs—Amadou Daffe and Hiruy Amanuel—founded Gebeya to bridge the shortage by providing training and also serving as a marketplace between these talents and companies in Africa. Similar to what Andela started in Nigeria two years earlier.
Gebeya means "marketplace" in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. The company sees itself as a talent infrastructure company building a pipeline of technology talents on the continent.
The talent marketplace has since worked with tech talent in its primary market Ethiopia and other African and foreign countries including Kenya, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom.
In 2018, Gebeya acquired Coders4Africa (C4A), a US-based software and consulting company to further accelerate its growth and build its developer talent pool. Daffe co-founded C4A before exiting in 2015 to focus on Gebeya.
Currently, Gebeya offers its services via these three suites; G-Talent, where tech talents are employed to work for short or long-term projects. Then there’s the full-time permanent hires option, G-Staffing, and G-Made, via this suite, talents are hired to work on “milestone-based projects”. Talents on the platform determine how much they get paid as Gebeya has no influence on the remuneration, the company takes a 15% commission monthly for each of these suites. In 2018, the startup made over a million dollars in revenue.
Building the Marketplace-as-a-Service model
In January, Ethiopian talent marketplace Gebeya secured an undisclosed pre-Series A to evolve from being a simple two-sided tech talent marketplace into being a provisioner of marketplaces under a “Marketplace-as-a-Service” model.
“We are not establishing the marketplaces, but providing support for existing marketplaces to thrive,” Amadou Daffe, co-founder and CEO of Gebeya told Benjamindada.com. “We are not building these marketplaces from scratch, but more of finding already existing marketplaces with solid entrepreneurs behind them, and supporting them.” Gebeya has since commenced this initiative and is currently partnering and providing marketplace-as-a-service to Lifeline Addis Home-based Healthcare, Eshi Express, Utentic, and YeneHealth, among the early marketplaces.
The plan Amadou has outlined is part of the company’s $48 million partnership with the Mastercard Foundation tagged Mesirat—which means “to work” in Amharic; the five-year program is aimed at equipping 100 entrepreneurs in Ethiopia with their own multi-sided gig marketplaces.
“In Ethiopia, the economy needs to create close to eight thousand jobs every business day,” according to Bernard Laurendeau, Managing Partner at Laurendeau & Associates, a Mesirat partner. “It is a ticking time bomb that the gig economy can defuse; the diffusion starts today with the Mesirat program.”
This innovative partnership will equip two million young people with market-facing skills and enable one million of them (70% women) to find work.
“The number one problem of entrepreneurs with startups in Ethiopia is access to funding. Very few VCs are looking to fund startups in Ethiopia. Investors want to know what’s the use of funds, which usually narrows down to three things: technology, marketing and operations,” Daffe adds.
By reinvesting the funds into these entrepreneurs, Gebeya believes that it will scale the Ethiopian gig economy and by extension, Africa’s. “While we are only assisting 100 Ethiopian marketplaces to become like Gebeya currently, we intend to help other entrepreneurs across Africa manage their own marketplaces more effectively using our technology. In the next couple of years, we hope to reach 1000 marketplace entrepreneurs,” he added.