It is one of the simplest business models on paper: link local artisans with opportunities. Yes, have a website and link carpenters, cleaners, plumbers, dish waters, mechanics, etc with opportunities which abound in any major city in Africa. Unfortunately, cracking that has been extremely hard. Mocality was one of the early digital platforms to try; it folded. OLX tried a flavour but gave up in Nigeria and other markets. Sure, Jiji and others are still pushing. So, it was news that Lateral Capital has invested in Kenya’s Lynk, a digital marketplace for blue-collar jobs and opportunities.
“We are excited to continue on our journey with Lynk as they expand beyond Kenya. We are thrilled to announce our 9th portfolio addition with our investment in Kenya’s Lynk. The informal economy represents ~80% of Kenya’s GDP. Lynk’s founding team have deployed a technology solution to gigify the informal economy by rolling out a “trust” platform that unlocks the services and products of informal workers,” said Rob Eloff, Managing Partner at Lateral Capital.
Launched in 2016, Lynk has built a marketplace matching blue-collar workers to gigs according to their experiences and skills. The marketplace, which recently introduced a shop section to promote artisans wares on its platform, has not had a huge reach and impact as expected due to the reach of social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram which have a wider and trusted reach than Lynk.
Yet, the biggest competitor is Facebook Group. Ask any lady where they find hair stylists now? Facebook Group has taken over those opportunities, and many marketplaces will struggle. Facebook brings higher trust because you cannot just emerge in Facebook. Yes, there are connections around you, and those connections validate you, giving people more confidence. Of course that does not mean that marketplaces cannot use the same Facebook to validate people in its network. Kickstarter has used that for years, asking people to share their Facebook profiles as a way of knowing they did not come from Mars, to extract money from good people of this world, for projects. Congratulations to Lynk.