Kormo: A hub for blue collar jobs in Bangladesh
Kormo is a Google app whose mission is to organise labour markets in emerging countries. Primarily, the app assists employers to post blue-collar and entry-level jobs that are not often posted online, which are surfaced to job seekers whose qualifications match the role requirements
Zaman, a final year student of BUBT, comes from a lower middle-class family.
He lives in a hostel in Dhaka and manages his expenses by doing private tuitions.
But things changed in March when educational institutions were closed, and Zaman lost his tuition jobs.
He could have returned to Mymensingh, but he did not have the courage to face his family members.
There was job scarcity and no one wanted to hire a person who did not complete his graduation.
Zaman said, "I knew blue-collar jobs were my only option. However, I was too shy to pull rickshaws or sell vegetables on a van. Also, shopping malls were closed, and I could not apply as a salesman. My options were limited as the only stores open during the pandemic were the grocery and medicine ones."
He dropped his CV at different supershop outlets and waited for them to respond.
While scrolling through social media, he saw an advertisement of Kormo.
Zaman created a profile and applied for the post of Freshness Assistant at Shwapno. Unlike other such platforms online, Kormo did not charge him to post his profile.
A few days later, he got a call from Kormo, and they told him that Shwapno wanted to interview him.
Now, Zaman has a job and can manage his expenses again.
Bangladesh is a country of 160 million people.
Here, the informal economy plays an important role both in employment generation and in production and distribution of goods and services.
According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2016-17, out of the total 60.83 million employed labour in the country, 85.1 percent work in the informal sector.
The figure was 75.2 percent in 2020.
Though most of the work available in the informal sector are labour intensive and the workers are hired physically, however, certain job categories require special skill sets like computer literacy, ability to drive vehicles or sometimes both.
People with such skillset is hard to find in the informal economy.
And graduates who have such skillset mostly look for white-collar jobs.
For some workers, the informal sector is an attractive employment opportunity, whereas for others, it is their last resort.
In 2017, Kormo was founded by Bickey Russell, a long time Googler and native of Bangladesh, and three other Googlers, as an experimental product in Area 120, Google's in-house incubator where a lot of great ideas begin.
Motivated by Google's long standing commitment to build an inclusive internet where everyone can experience its many benefits like being connected to economic opportunities, Bickey and his team designed Kormo with the aim to improve the way people and job opportunities are connected.
They saw that conventional methods of finding a job are not efficient, but given that there is a rapid smartphone penetration, they thought it would be helpful if they could provide a tool that can match job seekers to jobs and skills directly from their phones.
It has gone a long way since its early inception.
Today, it is available in Bangladesh, Indonesia and India as a Google app whose mission is to organise labour markets in emerging countries, especially in areas where the next billion internet users are coming from.
Market trends indicate that demographics in these countries skew younger and more urban.
Employers tend to be mostly in the service sectors across verticals like retail, logistics, and hospitality.
Kormo is a two-sided marketplace with a corresponding web app for employers.
Primarily, the app assists employers to post blue-collar and entry-level jobs that are not often posted online, which are surfaced to job seekers whose qualifications match the role requirements.
The smartphone penetration rate is rising every day in Bangladesh, and Kormo wanted to utilise it as this can be a more efficient way to find a job than conventional methods.
The platform clearly helps the employers find their ideal candidate with required skill set. Also, employers do not have to pay anything either to post jobs on the platform.
Shah Md Rijvi Rony, Head of HR of Shwapno, the country's largest retail chain, said, "We have recently hired through Kormo. At Shwapno, we need young and motivated people who have knowledge regarding modern gadgets and have minimum computer literacy. We have a CV box at every outlet. But it is hard to find a perfect match that way as we need to go through a huge number of CVs".
"But Kormo makes things easier. They have a CV bank, and we can choose our ideal candidates. We can certainly tell that the candidates who use Kormo have basic computer literacy and know how to use the internet. This makes it easier for us to train our employees when we hire them," he said.
So how is Kormo different from other online job marketplaces available in Bangladesh?
Bickey Russell, regional manager and operations lead, Kormo, Next Billion Users initiative said, "Our experience for job seekers is focused on making it as easy as possible for job seekers to register onto the app, start seeing relevant jobs that match their interests and then help them land the job. Kormo's personalised job feed considers skills, experience, location and even compensation preferences, which makes it helpful for seekers to browse through options. And it also provides opportunities for skills development and certification that widens opportunities for seekers."
ShopUp, a B2B platform for SMEs, also hired employees using the platform.
"Kormo looked like a place for hiring blue-collar employees with little to no hassle where we can put out the job ads, along with tailored job description, and get great responses in a very short notice. No other alternative platforms were available at that moment who catered to the exact needs of ShopUp to support the ever-changing business needs."
But as every initiative has some flaws, Kormo has some as well.
No gender preference options, fixed professions with no add options, roster the incomplete profile for the interview, no AI based applicant matching with job description, were some of its flaws mentioned by ShopUp.
ShopUp also suggested that Kormo needs to add the AI feature in their algorithm to match the candidate with the posted JD, change the UX to create a more user-friendly and eye-catching design, add features like aptitude test to screen out the potential talents at the selection process, and add online video interview.