Foreign Recruiter Turns to Kenyans After 470 Abandon Jobs

Kenyans queued for jobs during a past recruitment exercise
Kenyans queued for jobs during a past recruitment exercise.
County Government of Nakuru

A former Meta employee has asked Kenyans to apply for virtual assistant (VA) jobs run by a start-up he founded after attempts to hire people from the Philippines fell flat.

Nick, the founder of the US-based recruitment firm, shared online that he spent months looking for staff but the majority failed to show up for training or resigned after a few days with flimsy reasons.

He noted that he interviewed more than 470 individuals in a span of five months but some failed to turn up claiming their laptops were on fire or a contractor drilled a hole into their house.

The founder, who made northwards of Ksh49 million in his job at Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, added that half of the applicants failed basic requirements such as sharing a voice recording when called upon.

What you need to have while seeking jobs
A creative illustration of searching for jobs.

The recruiter explained that 40 per cent of the applicants failed to show up to the scheduled call while some who did, failed to appear for a 2-week training before assuming the job.

"Hiring a VA is hard, and having them show up to work every day is even harder. That's the reason I spend a lot of time onboarding the right VA and providing support every day to the VA and the customer," he stated.

When he shared his predicament online, he was challenged to turn his energy to the largely literate Kenyan workforce which he accepted.

"Any good resources or people you can recommend? Would love to hire from Kenya and other countries as well," he shared and created a careers page for people to apply.

The virtual assistant job, just like other online jobs that put food on the table of many Kenyans, involves providing assistance to employers or clients by answering emails, transcribing documents, and preparing statements and letters among others.

At the turn of the 2010s decade, Kenyans thrived in carrying out online jobs such as academic writing and article writing online that pay an average of Ksh500 per page. 

A report released by the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology in September 2021 indicated that over 1.2 million Kenyans, mostly youth, were employed on digital platforms.

The availability of menial tasks online pushed the government, then under President Uhuru Kenyatta, to create regulations allowing unemployed individuals to explore opportunities online. The Ajira digital was then formed.

“The Ajira Digital 2021 National Study on digital and digitally-enabled work and awareness of the Ajira Digital Program in Kenya established that 5 per cent of the adult population in Kenya are digital workers, which translates to 1.2 million Kenyans,” read the report at the time.

“What currently inhibits and inspires Kenyans to pursue digital work is the opportunity to work part-time."

At the time, the county was reeling from a continually increasing unemployment rate which hit 5.5 per cent according to the World Bank. In comparison, Philippines - a third-world country just like Kenya - saw its unemployment rate drop from a high of 6 per cent to 4.3 per cent.

MoveVirtual, which was founded in early 2023, connects virtual assistants to clients to help them fulfill part-time tasks.

A photo of an office desk.
A photo of an office desk.
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