Javed, a middle-aged man, labored as a driver earlier than shedding that job earlier this 12 months as coronavirus unfold throughout India, prompting New Delhi to implement a nationwide lockdown and quickly curb a number of enterprise actions.
There are hundreds of thousands of individuals like Javed in India right now who’ve misplaced their livelihood in latest months. They are low-skilled employees and are at the moment struggling to safe one other job.
An Apple alum thinks he might help. Through his app startup Apna, Nirmit Parikh helps India’s employees study new expertise, join with each other, and discover jobs.
Parikh’s app is already altering lives. Javed, who might barely communicate just a few phrases in English earlier than, lately posted a video on Apna app the place he talked about his new job — processing raisins — in English.
In lower than one 12 months of its existence, Apna app — obtainable on Android — has amassed over 1.2 million customers.
The startup introduced on Tuesday it has raised $eight million in its Series A financing spherical led by Lightspeed India and Sequoia Capital India . Greenoaks Capital and Rocketship VC additionally participated within the spherical.
In an interview with TechCrunch final week, Parikh mentioned that these employees lack an organized neighborhood. “They are daily-wage employees. They depend on their pals to seek out jobs. This makes the prospects of them discovering a job very troublesome,” he mentioned.
“The strongest factor for me about Apna is its communities — I’ve seen folks assist one another begin a enterprise, study a brand new language or discover a gig! Communities harbinger belief and make the mannequin infinitely scalable,” mentioned Vaibhav Agrawal, a Partner at Lightspeed India, in a press release.
The different problem they battle with is their skillset. “An electrician would find yourself working a long time doing the identical job. If solely that they had entry to upskilling programs — and simply knew how helpful it may very well be to them — they’d stand to broaden their scope of labor and considerably enhance their earnings,” mentioned Parikh.
Apna is addressing this hole in a number of methods. In addition to establishing a neighborhood, and rolling out upskilling programs, the startup permits customers — most of whom are first time web customers — simply generate a digital enterprise card. The startup then shares these profiles with potential employers.
In the final one month, Parikh mentioned Apna has facilitated greater than 1 million job interviews — up greater than 3X month-on-month. During the identical interval, greater than three million skilled conversations have occurred on the platform.
Parikh mentioned he plans to make use of the contemporary capital to develop its choices, and assist customers launch their very own companies. He additionally plans to develop Apna outdoors of India.
There are over 250 million blue and gray collar employees in India and offering them significant employment alternatives is likely one of the greatest challenges in our nation, mentioned Harshjit Sethi, Principal at Sequoia Capital India, in a press release.
“With web utilization on this demographic rising quickly, additional catalysed by the Jio impact, apps akin to Apna can play a significant function in democratizing entry to employment and skilling. Apna has constructed a novel product the place customers shortly come collectively in skilled communities, an unmet want up to now,” he added.
A handful of different gamers are additionally searching for methods to assist. Last month, Google rolled out a characteristic in its search engine in India that enables customers to create their digital enterprise card. The Android-maker additionally launched its jobs app Kormo within the nation.