Online business portal a boost for SME employment

FEBRUARY 2, 2016

Over the last four years Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator has become renowned for connecting corporate employers seeking entry-level talent with young, high-potential work-seekers who are currently locked out of the formal economy. To date, it’s achieved far-reaching impact by helping 20,000 young people into jobs across 200 of South Africa’s top companies, and is now expanding into the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market. With the launch of an online business portal designed to facilitate streamlined and de-risked employment, Harambee’s Business Portal offers unique and tailored value to SMEs.

As the powerhouse of employment in South Africa, SMEs offer employment to about 9 million (or 67%) of the working South African population. Globally, SMEs account for 77% of employment. With the National Development Plan aiming to decrease unemployment in South Africa from 25% in 2012 to 14% by 2020, small and medium businesses will be key for achieving this goal.

Harambee identified the process of sourcing and vetting new staff as a challenge for SMEs because of its resource-intensive nature and the risk it carries, particularly when it comes to hiring young unskilled work-seekers. This is one of the aspects that Harambee’s Business Portal aims to address.

The portal allows small business owners to select which employment category they require workers for, and they then complete an online form detailing how many staff they need and what the candidate requirements are, including geographic location and whether candidates only need to be assessed and matched to the specifications captured on the portal or if they also require training.

Harambee sources, vets and trains (if applicable) candidates.

To ensure a smooth transition for both parties, Harambee also provides placement support for up to six months from the date of placement. This reduces the risks and costs associated with a high new-employee turnover rate.

In a bid to offer additional value to SMEs, an SME Knowledge Centre is also available on the portal. The knowledge centre is a toolkit designed specifically for SMEs and houses a collection of valuable documents and information regarding business operations in South Africa. The available content includes HR and policy and procedure documents to assist in all areas of people management. The toolkit can be accessed for free by anyone who has signed up to the portal.

“SMEs face a host of challenges, with sourcing and vetting being one of them. Because entrepreneurs are often so focused on the day-to-day running of their business the employment process is often perceived as taking too much time and being too risky,” explains Monna Monnakgotla, Key Account and SME Portfolio Executive at Harambee. Monnakgotla says the company hopes that this new portal will help facilitate increased employment across the SME sector.

Harambee partnered with Amorphous New Media, one of South Africa’s leading full-spectrum digital design and marketing agencies, in the creation of the innovative online portal.

With its wealth of digital expertise, Amorphous was able to bring Harambee’s idea for the portal to life with a seamless user experience and effective information sharing between Harambee and the SME owners using the platform. The success of the project is a reflection of the success of the partnership between Harambee, who developed the portal concept, and Amorphous, whose brilliant execution of the idea made the project a reality.

“The team at Amorphous were excited about the opportunity to partner with a company that is committed to breaking the disincentive to hire young, unskilled work seekers. Right from the start of this project, we were focused on creating a straightforward, user-friendly portal that facilitates a seamless flow of information from the SME that is capturing the information on the portal to the Harambee team that starts the recruitment process on the other end,” explains Grant Shippey from Amorphous.

Accessing the online portal is as simple as visiting