Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Mintor

One-line solution summary:

An employment platform that empowers marginalised youth through chat-based cv building, skill endorsements and job matching.

Pitch your solution.

With global youth unemployment at 70mm the negative impact on global economic growth cannot be ignored. Covid-19 has even vastly exasperated this crisis!

Youth need opportunities, but can’t prove their skills and can’t afford ongoing job application costs. Yet, businesses struggle to find the right talent. 

Mintor Chat-based Youth Employment Platform: Through a simple chat (eg whatsapp / facebook messenger), jobseekers build their CVs, receive skills endorsements and get matched with right-fit opportunities. Businesses are supported in making quality recruitment decisions at a fraction of the normal cost and time.

Our scalable tech-enabled platform has proven to reduce job application costs by 80% and improve job retention of youth by 70%, resulting in economic stability of marginalised youth’s families and sustainable business growth through access to the right-fit talent.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

The Youth Unemployment Crisis: 

With the global youth unemployment rate sitting at 70mm (2017), the negative impact on global economic growth cannot be ignored. South Africa consistently ranks among the top few countries in the world with the highest youth unemployment - 70% of those between 15-25 that want to work can’t find jobs, and 58% of 15-34 year olds have the same problem.  These stats were prior to Covid19!. 

Poor recruitment practice is one of the key reasons according to the World Economic Forum:

  • Limited reach: millions are not reached with training or job opportunities, especially youth from disadvantaged and remote communities. Only 10% of youth from Townships have internet-connected computer access.
  • High application costs: the average cost to apply for jobs is $75pm making job-seeking unsustainable for youth already experiencing financial constraints.
  • Lack of recruiter capacity: constraints in cost, time and entry level recruitment expertise often lead to poor selection decisions and unfilled positions. On average only 50% of youth are retained within their first year of employment.

Youth need opportunities, but can’t prove their skills and can’t afford ongoing job application costs. Yet, businesses struggle to find the right talent. 

What is your solution?

Mintor’s first-of-kind chat-based inclusive youth employment platform helps youth access career opportunities and businesses find the right entry level talent: young jobseekers validate their skills and apply for opportunities from anywhere, while businesses are supported in making quality recruitment decisions at a fraction of the normal cost and time. 

The innovation: 

  • Through a simple chat with our chatbot (eg via whatsapp/facebook messenger), jobseekers build their CVs, receive skills endorsements and get matched with right-fit opportunities. 
  • Since 90% of youth already have access to such chat channels through phones of their own/family/friends, this mechanism efficiently supports and screens thousands of youth a day.
  • Jobseekers info is accessible to business recruiters via an integrated web-platform, in the form of a linkedin-style profile. 
  • Our AI driven matching algorithm hence supports businesses to make quality recruitment decisions at a fraction of the normal cost and time.

Our tech platform and recruitment processes are designed to be inclusive of marginalised communities’ needs, including women and people with disabilities. The result:

  • Increased reach of marginalised/remote communities [90% reach]
  • Reduced cost and time-lag of applying for a job [80% reduction]
  • Improved quality of youth-job-matching and hence improved job-retention [70% improvement]
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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Primary beneficiary group: Unemployed and underemployed youth

Secondary group: SMME’s

We have been working for 5 years with these groups, and co-developed the 2.5 year old chat-based platform with focus groups representing these audiences.

We have since supported 40,000 youth with cv-building and job applications, and over 300 businesses to connect with the right youth talent.

Impact achieved in the last 2 years:

  1. 90% of youth with digital connectivity hindrances are able to receive the support required to be connected with and considered for jobs
  2. Job application costs for youth from marginalised communities are reduced by 80%. 
  3. Businesses benefit from quality-fit, inclusively sourced shortlists at 1/3rd of the usual cost and 1/10th of the usual time (making it viable for most SMEs to take on entry level staff).
  4. Entry-level staff  are 70% more likely to retain decent work and progress in their careers to support their whole family, and SMEs are 30% more likely to fill vacancies due to the ease and affordability of Mintor’s solution.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Support workers to advocate for and access living wages, social safety nets, and financial security

Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.

Youth from marginalised communities lack career support, finance and networks to access job opportunities. Businesses lack cost-efficient mechanisms to source and screen for the right-fit youth. 

Mintor bridge the barriers for both youth and businesses through our chat-based youth employment platform.   

As a result, businesses find right-fit talent for their vacancies and youth are given the chance to prove themselves. Youth are 70% more likely to remain in their jobs as a result of the quality-fit matching.

Impact: Youth work seekers access living wages and obtain financial security. In addition small businesses create jobs through access to youth networks.

Who is the primary delegate for your solution?

Leànne Viviers

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Cape Town, South Africa
More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Describe what makes your solution innovative.

Tech Innovation: leveraging existing tech (chat-apps) for a different purpose (recruitment).

Process Innovation: changing an existing process other way around (jobseekers are screened for job-fit at the front end vs the traditional backend stage of recruitment). 

Through extensive work in youth employment in South Africa (among 3 countries with highest youth unemployment worldwide), we realised that there is a huge digital and behavioural disconnect between the 7 million unemployed youth and business recruiters. We sought a solution with no barrier to adopt to millions in terms of cost, effort or behaviour. Hence our Mintbot was born based on the realisation that youth spend their very little money only on what matters to them most, i.e. their social connectivity through chat apps, and therefore we decided to meet them there.

From the business’ perspective, we took traditional HR recruitment and turned it upside down - jobseekers no longer come to employers, employers meet jobseekers where they are at, i.e. in their social media chats. 

Mintor is the first end-to-end chat-based youth employment platform globally, and the only scalable job-site related platform that services the needs of youth from marginalised communities in developing countries. Our peers leverage traditional web-based job sites, bespoke mobile apps or social media marketing as recruitment tactics, however those pose a huge adoption barrier to youth due to cost and social behaviour, and none are as rich in the skill-competency data collected by Mintor to ensure quality matching.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The Mintor Tech Platform is at the core a chatbot (Mintbot), integrated with a cloud hosted web-based jobsite. We leverage a stack of tech components to cost effectively run the integrated platform, with the chatbot logic and AI-driven processes bearing the largest part of our asset value. 

The Mintbot engine can plug into any chat platform, and hence easily adapt to regional behaviours anywhere globally for immediate adoption by youth without the need to download a separate app or access a web-platform. Mintbot is integrated with our in house developed jobsite where businesses post jobs, receive applicants and connect with their shortlists, however Mintbot can integrate with any other youth or recruitment oriented organisation’s platforms as well.

Provide evidence that this technology works.

In March 2020, we saw our biggest milestone so far where Mintbot supported over 10,000 youth from marginalised communities within just 3 days, with the human support of only one person. The tech platform supported these youth with bot-facilitated CV building, skill assessment and endorsements and job matching. As a result, our business client was able to find the right talent for their imminent job openings within a time-frame that would usually have taken them 10 times longer with much more resources (at least 3 times the cost) and likely not nearly the same quality of fit of talent within their selected pool of candidates.

Whilst chatbots are widely used, there are few applications within the recruitment industry and through thorough research, we found that Mintor is currently the only application of chatbot tech applied to whatsapp and tailored to the needs of underserved youth. We are truly a first of its kind chat-based recruitment platform serving the needs of unemployed youth.

The value to youth has been proven with the virality in which the word spread - about 80% of our 40k registered youth came through referrals of friends.

Product: www.gomintor.com (web platform); +27 605652501 (whatsapp chat platform)

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Behavioral Technology
  • Crowdsourced Service / Social Networks
  • Software and Mobile Applications

What is your theory of change?

Youth economic empowerment: 

School leavers/dropouts from marginalised communities have poor career guidance. They don’t know their skill aptitudes, how to do a CV, how to develop work-related skills and how to apply for jobs. Hence, their job applications and interviews are too poor for consideration. 

Business resources for growth: 

Businesses lack the reach of young talent from marginalised communities, the ability to adequately assess their potential, the time and resources to follow conventional costly processes to source and screen and timely communicate with such talent.

Activities: Youth receive support to prove their credibility through CV building and skill endorsements; Youth get connected with suitable training or job opportunities through Mintor’s AI-driven matching algorithm and chat-connections; Youth are supported with soft skill development and work readiness training; Businesses receive a quality fit shortlist for their training and job vacancies.

Output: Many more youth are supported with career guidance [Mintor results: 17,500 in 2 yrs]; More Businesses consider youth recruitment due to the cost-efficient and quality matching mechanism. [Mintor Results: Businesses save 2/3rd on cost and 9/10ths of usual time]

Outcome: Many more youth are employed; Businesses find the talent they need. [Mintor results: 80% of interviewees are selected vs industry standard of 20%]

Impact: Many more youth are retained in the jobs and progress with their careers; Businesses grow as a result of value-add talent. [Mintor results: 85% of youth are retained within the 1st yr vs industry standard of 50%]

Long-term outcomes:

- Business: are encouraged by the evidence that youth with the right-fit potential contribute value to the business and are worth the investment. Hence they are more likely to create more job opportunities for youth. 

- Youth: are informed and inspired by the career support provided, understanding the gap between their skills and the opportunities in reach, and the guidance on how to develop the skills to get there. Hence they are more likely to invest time in their own self-development and are more likely to add value to the businesses that employ them, and thereby contribute to business and economic growth while attaining economic self-sufficiency.

Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
  • Persons with Disabilities

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • South Africa

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Kenya
  • Mozambique
  • Nigeria
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • Vietnam

How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Number of Youth Supported:

2019: 17,500

2020: 20,000 (conservative due to Covid-19 delays)

2021: 200,000

2022: 1 million

2025: 10 million

What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

Our goal in the next 5 years is to have impacted the lives of 10 million youth across at least 10 countries, leveraging chat-based technology for youth development and employment related support.. 

Within 2020, we will be scaling internationally, replicating our South African model. We already had plans in the pipeline to enter Mozambique and Vietnam together with a partner, however Covid-19 caused delays. 

With a tech-frame that can be replicated anywhere globally, and together with partners in local countries that assist to localise the support to youth according to their regional needs, Mintor can easily scale. 

The tech platform is implemented in local countries in partnership with local entities that have a deep reach and knowledge of working with the target youth groups and the business sector, eg Training institutions; Youth Development NGO’s; Business Development Service Providers. 

The tech platform is managed and developed by the Mintor global unit in order for local countries to benefit from top tier international expertise on new tech developments e.g. AI matching algorithm; gamified skill assessment; mobile-chat facilitated learning for skills development.

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

Financial barrier: we require investment or grant funding in order to scale locally and internationally. There is a steep initial setup and localisation cost when we enter new regions (eg for language translation, chatbot adaptation to local behaviours), and to subsequently raise sufficient market awareness to gain the traction and momentum required to achieve scale. Once we reach a certain level of scale, economies-of-scale kicks in and our unit cost drops significantly. 

Business Market size: we serve a two-sided market, i.e. youth (with a huge size in terms of need for our support) and businesses that provide training and job opportunities to youth. The latter has severely been hit by Covid-19 and hence other avenues need to be sought to make it viable for businesses to create more entry-level opportunities.

How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

Finances: Much of our cost is related to addressing the social needs of youth in order to prepare them for the world of work. We can cover these costs from our business revenue only once we achieve scale. We are currently looking for bridging finance from impact investors and also are in talks with large international development agencies with a mission of youth development and economic empowerment, e.g. Plan International, World Vision, African Development Bank.

Business Market: We are seeking to collaborate with government agencies that incentivise MSME’s to employ youth, and Corporates to take on youth for internships and training programs.

About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

3 Full Time; 3 Part Time; 6 Contractors

I co-founded Mintor 5 years ago with my partner Kripa Rajshekhar. 

Our third business partner Marguerite Heyl joined 2 years ago.

The rest of our team mostly comprises Interns that join on a rotational basis - we love to walk the talk in giving young people a chance and mentoring them on how to move their career forward.


How many years have you worked on your solution?

5 Years

Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We have combined over 40 years of diverse experience including senior positions at Ernst&Young, PWC and The World Bank, as well as multiple tech and social innovation startups. Most importantly, we have the passion and drive that it takes to impact millions and demonstrated that in having built an award-winning social enterprise. 

L Viviers: MBA in Social Entrepreneurship from Oxford; 15+ yrs in IT & Consulting (UK, USA, Africa); Former World Bank global program manager: SME skills development in 40 countries, 5m users.

M Heyl: Former Strategy & Innovation Senior Manager at PwC; CA with 15+ yrs in consulting and investment banking (US, UK, SA); Co-founder of The Heroine Project.

K Rajshekhar: Former Partner at Ernst & Young (EY); Co-founder of EY’s US Corporate Finance Strategy practice; Startup experience at 4 firms; Currently CEO and co-founder of Metonymy Labs.

What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

We are currently working with the following partners:

  • International Youth Development Organisation: Plan International USA. We join resources to enter new countries (they bring their youth economic empowerment expertise and access to development funding; we bring our tech platform and expertise on setting up and scaling self-sustainable social enterprises).

  • Training Organisations: e.g. Proserv, TrainingForce, Bytes, Kwelanga, iLearn. Training organisations receive contracts from corporates to administer their Training programs that are part of the government’s skills development scheme. The Training organisations then outsource the recruitment and selection of the suitable youth to us.

  • Business Development Services provides: e.g. Fetola. We work together to provide their SME beneficiaries with affordable access to youth talent to help their businesses grow.

  • Youth NGOs & Colleges: e.g. Zanokhanyo, Fisantekraal, Rlabs, NaspersLabs. We support them to raise awareness among youth about their programs and also support their graduates/alumni to access job opportunities.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Revenue Streams: 

  • Businesses: Businesses pay us a recruitment fee. Coporates pay per project based on the number of candidates successfully placed within their training/job programs (100 to 250 USD pp). SMEs pay per person that they want to connect with after they reviewed the shortlist of matched applicants (20 USD per connection)

  • NGO’s / Government: Pay to support youth from marginalised communities with work preparation activities, e.g. CV building, skill endorsements, soft skill training, access to jobs. Fees are based on volumes of youth supported and the package of activities.

Social Impact:

  • Youth are provided with work preparation and job connection support for free. Millions of youth are supported to be in a much better position to find their own jobs, or get connected with jobs through the Mintor jobs-platform.

  • Businesses finally find the right-fit talent to fill their vacancies (ensuring no more job opportunities remain unfilled) and to help the business grow.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?

Organizations (B2B)

What is your path to financial sustainability?

We operated cash-flow positive since year 1 and grew organically to date, having generated revenue from business customers that was sufficient to start up and sustain operations. However we are now seeking investment in order to accelerate growth at scale and to keep innovating our technology approach for increased impact. We are also seeking grant funding to scale our work preparation support to youth at a much larger scale. 

Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

Mintor has the potential to radically improve the lives of millions of youth globally. We have a proven product and a super dedicated and talented team. 

Solve can help us reach and impact those millions through:

  • Funding to scale

  • Networks (Partnerships, Peers and Mentors) to access and develop larger markets

  • Intelligence (through MIT faculty/students or other Experts) to enhance our tech innovations to accelerate our impact 

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Solution technology
  • Product/service distribution
  • Funding and revenue model
  • Marketing, media, and exposure

What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

  • MIT faculty or students: to assist with further tech innovation through AI and behavioural economics

  • International Development organizations focused on youth development

  • Organisations with  a large SME network

Please explain in more detail here.

  • Partners with access to international development / impact funding or access to large networks of SMEs to take our solution to millions of youth and businesses globally
  • Partners who can assist with further AI & Behavioural Economics expertise to support continual cutting-edge innovation
  • Partners who work in the youth development space who could support the further reach of youth from marginalised communities 

Solution Team

  • Leànne Viviers Youth Employment Social Entrepreneur, Mintor
 
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