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Home > Business > Special


Looking for a maid? Now search online

Praveen Bose in Bangalore | October 04, 2007

Looking for a maid, a cook, a driver or a watchman? Here's a social networking site that helps you find them online.

Three individuals, two former employees of Microsoft and a friend of theirs, have networked to help people find jobs as drivers, domestic helps, gardeners and watchmen. Out of these three, two are Americans.

Social networking sites were until now associated with the educated middle class. So how can the poor who are barely literate or not even that, with minimal computer literacy if at all, become part of a social networking effort?

The three, based out of Bangalore, have come up with an answer in the form of two websites babajob.com and babalife.com., while one is a jobsite the other one is a social networking site. And the trio are using a simple device � pay people who help the poor find jobs.

"We pay people who know how to use computer Rs 100 whenever someone registered on babajob.com is hired. So we pay people to help informal sector workers get better jobs. This is a strong way to build database and get more people involved," Sean Olin Blagsvedt, CEO, Babajob Services Ltd, said.

"Most people find jobs through people they know, namely their extended social network, and most employers when hiring employees for their homes, prefer a person whom someone they trust can vouch for," said Sean.

Sean and chief technologist Vibhore Goyal designed and coded the site themselves. "We pay Reliance Communications [Get Quote] around Rs 18,000 per month to host our server. When you do all the work yourself, you don't need much money, all you need is time," said Ira Weise, managing director, Babajob.

On how the business model works Ira Weise cites an example: "Let's say A is looking for a cook and places an ad with us for Rs 799. After searching on babajob.com, he ultimately decides to hire his uncle's driver's sister. Assuming all these folks are on babalife.com, the social networking site, both A's uncle and his driver, will earn Rs 100 each."

The obvious hurdle in the way is low penetration of the Internet. "The accounts of these people can be managed by a friend, a relative, an NGO or anyone else. They are referred to as mentors. Again, whenever someone is hired, their mentor earns Rs 200," Weise added.

Interestingly, Weise's driver and cook have become mentors now.

"Many people who are hired through babajob.com may not have access to a computer or phone. So their accounts can be managed by a friend, a relative, an NGO or even a cyber-caf� operator -- called a mentor," said Weise. Whenever someone is hired, their mentor earns Rs 200.

Right now babajob.com is limited to jobs in Bangalore that generally pay under Rs 10,000 per month. Babajob plans to expand to other cities and include additional job categories. Now, the team is working towards developing a user interface, in association with a global software giant, which won't require literacy as a prerequisite.

To get people to register, babajob.com is in touch with a few NGOs, including one that runs an ITI for poor students.



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