SkilledAfricans: Tinder for the workplace?

(CNN)At first glance, it seems to represent a cross between LinkedIn and Tinder. You can network with other professionals while barely lifting a finger — swipe right on the smartphone if you want to connect, left to continue browsing.

But SkilledAfricans, a pan-continental social network that boasts 750,000 members, aims to achieve more than just professional introductions or casual encounters.
    The aim is to “increase knowledge, and prove knowledge,” says CEO and co-founder Dr. Nicolas Bussard.
    The website and app — which launches this week — are designed to give users the tools to build their skill-set and certify their resumes — essential in today’s job market.
    Africa has the highest rate of population growth of any continent according to the U.N., yet unemployment and underemployment are significant problems in many countries, particularly for younger generations. In South Africa, for example, 52 percent of people aged 15 to 24 are jobless.

    Free online training


    But the entrepreneur hopes this is just the beginning — the company aims to have 20 million members by 2020. While Bussard admits this goal is “ambitious”, he has an ace up his sleeve.
    He has signed a deal with a Chinese mobile manufacturer to have the app pre-installed on their smartphones, which are sold “in millions” to Africa.
    “It’s a big deal. It’s a huge deal”, he says. “Most people in Africa don’t own a computer, but most own a mobile phone, and most — at least the ones we’re targeting — own a smartphone.”
    Income comes from online advertising, physical training and recruitment, which Bussard believes will be the strongest revenue driver.
    The start-up is currently seeking investment — together with co-founder Emmanuel Henao, with whom Bussard parted ways last year, it has so far spent around $400,000 — largely on advertising, wages and research and development.
    “We’ve spent so much time on R&D,” says Bussard, who has nearly 15 years of start-up experience. “It’s very important that before you hit the market, big time, you need to have the right product. So many entrepreneurs make the same mistake.”

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