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Mercy Corps unveils ‘Uber’ to connect skilled refugees, youth, with job opportunities

Uganda hosts more than 1.4 million refugees with majority coming from the South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo

Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | Mercy Corps has partnered with African Executive Leaders Solution to launch a digital platform to help legal refugees and youths close the gap in accessing jobs in Uganda.

Known as Ichuzz2work, the African Executive Leaders Solutions will use this platform to connect refugees and youths in the informal settlements in Makindye and Kawempe divisions in Kampala to secure jobs.

AELS will also work closely with the Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) to bridge the skills gaps among the refugees and host communities in the two divisions through modular assessments that lead to issuance of worker’s passes and other forms of accreditation that can give employers the confidence to demand and pay for their skills and service.

It is hoped that the initiative will see the targeted group earn an average income of US$ 30 – 500 for most of the tasks or jobs accessed via the platform.

Edward Simiyu, Mercy Corps Director for Uganda said on April. 20 that the platform works more like ‘Uber’ connecting skilled workers in the informal sector with the job opportunities.

“We believe that one way to address the country’s unemployment crisis is to focus on the potential of digital technology. Online platforms are becoming a new income source for thousands of talented and innovative young people who otherwise would be left on the sidelines,” he said, adding that once the project picks up well in the next five months, it will be subsequently rollout throughout the country.

Simiyu said the platform will also enable the target audiences to identify their unique strengths, improve their skills and competencies to secure meaningful learning and earning opportunities focusing on work-based learning that is not limited to internship, trainee opportunities and apprenticeships.

Patrick Ngolobe, CEO AELS said, ‘the Ichuzz2work platform’ – a Web and Mobile App –  is open to the general public to access a variety of skilled services such as plumbing, electrical wiring, building, tutoring, welding, hairdressing, computer programming, marketing, farm management, among others.

He said the taskers on the platform are accredited by DIT, have been mentored and trained in their specific fields of expertise, and are also trained in interpersonal and customer relations to enhance professionalism as they offer their services to the general public.

“All accounts created by youths on the platform are verified and approved job alerts are sent out,” he said.

“The solution has been designed to cater for georeferencing, where only taskers within a radius of 20KM from the customer posting the task/job get a job/task alert. This is intended to increase turnaround time for service delivery and also reduce the operational costs so as to have competitive pricing for the tasks.”

Ngolobe said there are no charges either at registration, posting of a job or when the service provider is paid. However, the customer only pays the taskers for the job done in cash, a mode of payment that will be upgraded with time to include mobile money and credit cards.

Ngolobe said the ichuzz2work app provides for signing off a digital contract, reporting any breach of contract and indicating when the Taskers are available to do the tasks/jobs.

“Upon completion of the assignment the customer is able to rate the taskers on a five star scale,” he said adding that taskers with better ratings are usually chosen first.

Currently, Uganda is the second-largest refugee-hosting country on the planet, only after Lebanon.  Latest statistics from United Nations High Commission for Refugees shows that the Uganda hosts more than 1.4 million refugees with majority coming from the South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

This makes up to about 3.6% of Uganda’s total population, with 64% of the refugees living in Uganda currently unemployed.

Good initiative

Expert have welcomed the new initiative saying it will  bridge the gap between the service workers and their clients who are also the general public, enabling a quick and convenient access of the services.

They added that the clients will also have an opportunity to make a choice of individuals; their services, as they find them fit for their budgets while creating value for both workers and employers.

Mercy Corps Uganda in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC, as lead agency), Urban Refugees and Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID) is also implementing the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) program titled; “Enhancing the Resilience of Urban Refugees and Vulnerable Host Communities in Kampala through an Integrated Protection and Livelihoods Approach”.                       

The program is now in the 20th of the 34 month period with an overall goal of enabling the most vulnerable refugees and host community in Kampala to be more resilient and empowered through evidence based, innovative protection and livelihood strategies that strengthen existing local structures and services to promote long term sustainability and protection of community members.

The consortium has also successfully implemented a 9 months BPRM funded COVID response program titled “Provision of Essential Services to Meet the Basic Needs of at Risk Urban Refugees in Response to COVID 19” between July 2020 – March 2021, to enable the vulnerable Urban Refugees have improved access to services and support throughout the COVID 19 crisis in Kampala.

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