Skilled worker access to markets increases employment opportunities

Kevin Sesse, Côte d’Ivoire, takes his inspiration from “young people who dare to innovate and create wealth and improve the living conditions of their communities.” Kevin’s startup, Mon Artisan, takes this passion to the grassroots. The company provides an online platform of “skills on demand” for small trades, especially crafts. For informal craftsmen and skilled workers Mon Artisan (or “my artisan”) gives visibility and increased employment opportunities and customers receive find solutions for projects, agreed upon in advance.

New technology with increasing reach in Africa makes solutions like Mon Artisan increasingly practical. Kevin claims Mon Artisan stands out from other competitors because of their “rigorous selection process,” followed by independent customer evaluation, all backed up with insurance. The company is already making money and has been in operation since 2017. With African Entrepreneurship Award funding they can scale up and increase access to solutions for workers and customers.

For many skilled workers, Mon Artisan provides urgent solutions to long-standing problems of visibility and consistent work. In Côte d’Ivoire alone, 70% of the workforce remains in the informal sector. And, this informal sector is powerful. A 2017 article explains that the informal sector can broadly represent between “25 and 65 percent of Africa’s GDP and accounts for between 30 and 90 percent of total nonagricultural employment.” 1 What exactly is the ubiquitous informal sector? The International Labor Force defines the informal economy as “All economic activities by workers or economic units that are – in law or practice – not covered or sufficiently covered by formal arrangements.” No contracts. Cash payments. Word of mouth.

Mon Artisan initially targeted 20 different trades, ranging from builders, to furniture, to auto and electronic sectors. Soon they will also integrate beauty professions, including hairdressers and massage. By 2020, Kevin aspires to include a network of 3,000 artisans on the platform.

In an urbanized, increasingly middle-class Africa, many of informal work arrangements are more difficult to come by. Young city dwellers no longer have access to their father’s plumber or their mother’s furniture maker from the village. Relationships based on trust and existing community relationships are waning. However, a growing middle class requires solutions and Mon Artisan is ready.