We’ve come to the end of the 3rd year of Akwajobs. Akwajobs was created on August 1, 2015. It’s a partnership between myself (Otto B. Isong) and Njorku (Cameroon) Ltd founded and led by Mambe Nanje one of the icons of Silicon Mountain.
The impact so far
In the course of 3 years, Akwajobs has served more than 300,000 professionals and at least 1,000 organizations. During this period, we left from an obscure URL to one of the most trusted job boards in Cameroon.
Before Akwajobs, fake job offers were rampant on many online job boards and classified websites. In our first three months, we experienced the same attacks by scammers. When we realized the depth of the problem, we dedicated considerable resources in eradicating fake job offers from Akwajobs. Our success pushed the other job boards to do the same in order to match up with our standards. One of the dividends of competition — it democratizes innovation and pulls laggards along the path of improved performance.
Our reputation attracted some of the biggest organizations to use Akwajobs as their preferred job publishing partner. Some of our partners include Huawei Cameroon Co. Ltd, Vodacom Business Cameroon S.A., The US Embassy in Yaoundé, The e-Commerce Division of Nexttel, Chemonics International Inc, Makonjo Media and more. We have one of the best brands so far in the online job vacancy publishing space in Cameroon.
The business model
In the course of these three years, we’ve experimented on a variety of business models. We’ve tested revenue models like ads, premium services (features) and subscriptions. Changing the target paying customers as we changed the revenue model. In each of those iterations, we learned some invaluable lessons, we had a better understanding of our market and what could possibly sell at what price range.
Most importantly, we learned what it takes to deliver excellence to our main user groups — professionals and employers/recruiters. It’s not a journey that’s void of trials. However, for each obstacle, we emerged stronger and better.
From the experiments, we have learned that the most suitable revenue model for a job board is advertising. But beyond a job board, the dynamics are very interesting.
Currently, Akwajobs has 5 persons working on it. Myself, Lahmu Sandrine (our Sales Rep in Yaoundé), two Operations interns and a Customer Service intern. We are running very lean. Our leanness has enabled us to keep costs down at the barest minimum. We have no physical office, as such, we work remotely.
If we must have meetings, we use one of the co-working spaces or in restaurants and other public spaces. This model has enabled us to achieve more at minimal cost burdens. I’ll say it’s the height of our resourcefulness.
In the past 3 years, we made less than 5 million FCFA directly from Akwajobs. We have predominantly been bootstrapping and were lucky to get some loans from family and friends. Overall, we are in a good shape financially (looking at the past). But that’s not enough. We ought to do more. But what’s more, going to look like? This is the hard question.
The FUTURE of Akwajobs
I believe the future of Akwajobs is in a more streamlined Akwajobs that focuses on being a job board and makes money predominantly through adverts. In 2019, we will be looking at expanding into other African countries with this very focused and streamlined model.
However, we are taking all the insights we’ve gathered in trying to build a business model other than Ads for Akwajobs to develop an intelligent (AI as in artificial intelligence) system for professional advancement, recruiting and performance enhancement.
The future of Akwajobs may not have been an AI, but its offspring is an AI. We are excited about this future. We look forward to serving more professionals and recruiters in Africa and the world with an intelligent tool that enables professionals to deliver more every day.[gtranslate]