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‘Our goal is to connect more people to economic opportunities’

  • Published at 04:21 pm December 26th, 2018
web-Bickey Russell, project lead of Kormo
Bickey Russell, project lead of Kormo and founding member of Google's Area 120 incubator, briefs unemployed rural people about the Kormo app and how it can help them connect with prospective employers Courtesy

In an interview with the <strong>Dhaka <span style="color:red">Tribune</span></strong> by email, Bickey Russell, project lead of Kormo, talks about the app and how it can revitalize the online job-seeking platform

Tell us more about Kormo

Kormo is a new app that helps people, currently living in Dhaka, find work and develop their careers. It is available for download on the Google Play Store or at www.kormo.com. For businesses, Kormo helps them hire staff quickly and effectively. The product has been developed inside Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator for innovative projects. We started testing the app about a year or so ago and have so far connected over 25,000 unique jobs and served over a thousand businesses looking to hire.

A large portion of the jobs featured in the app cater to this group’s growing needs. There are both part-time and full-time jobs listed and most are entry-level or early stage career opportunities in the services sectors. Occupations range from warehouse pickers, packers at leading ecommerce startups, shop assistants at retail outlets and all the way to customer support agents at BPO firms.

Importantly, the app also consists of the Learn tab, an interactive content feed that consists of training videos and other learning tools personalized for each and every user.

How and why was the idea of Kormo conceived?

The idea for Kormo came up when the other founding members and I were looking to join Area 120 just over two years ago. We brainstormed a bunch of ideas, but we quickly found that getting access to regular employment and “upskilling” resources were just such a massive problem. We felt that this broad space around improving this marketplace and developing a more skilled, productive workforce had scope for technology to play a much bigger role.

We sharpened our focus and developed our proposal. We then pitched to Area 120 and eventually got backed to go and build Kormo and take it to market.

What are the key objectives of Kormo?

Our goal is to connect more people to economic opportunities. We believe that we can help make this happen by enabling a more open and efficient job marketplace, and by providing job-seekers with an easy way to discover relevant work and the tools to learn and grow in their careers.

What are the special features of Kormo which makes it different from other job-seeking platforms?

There are quite a few unique features to Kormo. The first is that most of the jobs posted on Kormo are not published anywhere else online. We are catering to job categories and user groups that had previously relied too heavily on offline channels, like personal references, to discover job opportunities and apply for them. Many of the job seekers we spoke to whilst developing Kormo have said to us that they did not think they get a job without a personal connection.

Secondly, the Kormo app experience is fully personalized for the job-seekers. After signing up to the app, the user has a customized CV auto-generated for them. This “Kormo CV” then enables a personalized job listings feed. 

The final special feature is that the entire job fulfillment process is tracked inside of the Kormo app. From application to being hired by an employer and rated, it is all logged inside the app to help the user.

What is the strategy for engaging more blue-collar job-seekers to this platform?

There is still a lot for us to learn about the space and how best to reach this segment of users. We have been working with Brac and local marketing agency, Boomerang, to learn more about user needs and run various field activation campaigns.

We have also been working with Banglalink, and recently launched Career Zones at a number of their owned, operated and channel managed stores. Any customer visiting one of those stores can meet a KORMO representative to learn more about building a CV, interview tips and ask general career related questions.

Does this platform have the required user-friendliness for the blue collar job seekers?

Our app has changed considerably since we first started testing it a year ago and our primary focus has always been to provide really friendly user experience to anyone interacting with the app. 

For instance, when we started, discovering new jobs was more based on navigating through a series of cards, and now the experience is a feed, which is much more familiar and intuitive for users in Bangladesh. In addition, we learnt that many people want to be able to take quizzes and courses on Kormo to improve their Kormo CV.

What will be Kormo’s contribution in our employment-generating landscape?

If Kormo can keep increasing the number of successful connections it makes between job seekers and employers, it will have a positive impact on the economy.

Having connected over 25,000 jobs, we are already seeing some of this impact first hand. For instance, we have received thousands of comments from users thanking Kormo for helping them get their first job. Many users tell us that they never thought they would be able to get a job at a company like Shwapno for instance, and that Kormo not only made the connection possible, but it also helped them prepare for the interviews.

What are the challenges in Bangladesh that you are facing at present regarding this app?

Not necessarily related to Bangladesh, but building anything new is always hard. You have to be prepared to fail a lot. When you spend time developing a new feature and then you put it out there and users hate it, it can be really upsetting. The important thing to remember is failure is part of the process and you just have to learn from it and iterate.

What are your strategies to face these challenges?

Every single person on our team is super passionate about solving the problems, and we are fortunate that we have great partners on the ground in Dhaka who are equally passionate and very supporting of what we are doing.

Are you collaborating with any local partner organization for this app?

We started researching and testing Kormo very early on with Boomerang Digital, a marketing agency, and Brac (a development agency), and are now looking to expand its reach and impact with newer partners like Banglalink, who are helping us scale up online and offline.

I should mention here that we see each of the businesses using Kormo to recruit staff as partners, too. Shwapno, Chaldal, Genex, Zero Gravity, Meena Bazaar and BITI are just a few of the many employers that have been working with us for some time and hiring through Kormo. We are delighted that they have all started to get value from Kormo from a relatively early stage.

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