We talked to Victor Thien of afringa about the online employment platform, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Victor Thien: The pandemic is a challenge for all us, given the nature of the afringa team being spread across different African countries and working remotely to achieve ambitious goals despite all.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded afringa.
Victor Thien: After having spent 10 years in international management consulting I founded the afringa online employment platform with the vision and mission to help young jobseekers across African countries to find job opportunities and apply to them more easily. On the other hand, the recruiting process should be more simple and easy for local and international companies hiring in African countries. I have bootstrapped the business with the help of a few business angels.
How does afringa innovate?
Victor Thien: afringa has removed cover letters and introduced short cover videos instead. Job seekers can record a short video of themselves introducing their motivation, personality and willingness to learn. In turn, companies don’t have to go through 1000 job applications and attachments anymore because only the candidates that are really serious about the job are willing to record the video. As a result, the number of job applications and time spent on reviewing applications has been significantly reduced for companies.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Victor Thien: New employments have gone down with our clients, and hence sales have been a challenge over the past months. As a result, we have introduced the afringa academy (https://www.afringa-academy.com). Through the afringa academy, we are supporting young girls and boys to understand basic job skill requirements such as “How to apply for a job”, “CV and interview preparation”, and basic digital skills such as Microsoft Word PowerPoint, Excel, etc. Content is being taught via videos as well as a three-month course. We have opened an office in Nairobi, Kenya this year to cater to our local clients’ needs and members.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Victor Thien: As an entrepreneur, it’s important to be able to adapt to changing circumstances as well as to change course quickly. We were also forced to take a couple of uncomfortable decisions on the way forward but have since stabilized and benefited from the change in course. Lesson learned has been an even closer focus on product and services and listening for customer feedback as they had to adapt to changing circumstances, too.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and afringa in the future?
Victor Thien: Meditation helps us a lot to address stress and anxiety. Given the huge demand in employment and education across the African continent, we are looking at a bright future and are absolutely positive about continues progress towards supporting even more African job seekers to find and connect with great job opportunities.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Victor Thien: Competitors have not yet implemented video technology. We assume they will soon follow through. We are currently working on putting artificial intelligence and machine learning APIs on top of our already proven recruiting engine. Companies will spend even less time recruiting on afringa as they will be presented with a preselection of the most suitable job candidates.
Your final thoughts?
Victor Thien: Young African job seekers, as well as companies looking for great talent, need new solutions that connect them more efficiently and in a more beneficial manner for both parties. We aim to achieve this goal with afringa and bring as many job seekers into meaningful jobs as possible to reduce unemployment step by step.
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