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Why we’re launching in Africa despite the odds

3 Dec 2019

With Thanksgiving coming up I’ve been thinking a lot about my friends and family back in Ghana. Some of you know I left Ghana to come to the US with nothing, went through a lot of shit, and then was fortunate enough to be part of some successful companies. Now, I’m living my dream of running a startup with amazing people. 

I’m really thankful for my opportunities. But, I’ve felt incomplete because to get to this dream I had to leave my friends and family behind, knowing they won’t have the same opportunities as me. 

When I left over 10 years ago, things were pretty rough in Ghana and most places in Africa. 

However, in the last few years, things have been changing rapidly. The number of internet users grew at seven times the global average – 3,600% growth between 2000 and 2012 and it keeps growing! China is pumping a shit ton of money into infrastructure and committing $60bn more. And there are hundreds of thousands of new African university graduates moving back home. Which is awesome! 

But, there’s still one big problem – there aren’t enough job opportunities for the 1.2bn people in Africa, whose average age is 19. So now, there’s an African youth unemployment crisis looming. Meaning all these kids that are graduating college are coming home to joblessness. 

Why am I telling you all of this? 

Because we all know people that have struggled to get work. It sucks. 

So I asked Max and Steph (my friends and co-founders)…why can’t Africa be the next India or China? Why can’t a place that’s historically been seen as a charity case be mainly funded for the value they bring and not through aid? 

And why can’t Meaningful Gigs solely focus on creating jobs for Africans? 

We decided to dig deeper…

The first thing we did was look to our mission to see if the move fit. 

“Our mission is to create a world where underrepresented people everywhere have the opportunity to earn a sustainable living, do meaningful work, and make an impact.” 

Does it fit? Fuck yes! 

Then, to the business that fuels our mission:

If we started with designers, could we create value for both US companies and African talent? 

Well…we know there’s a $20bn+ gap in the market, where companies need high-quality design at an affordable rate…and their only options are to spend 200k’s+ up with agencies or in-house designers, or go to cheap and unreliable marketplaces. No good options in between.  

Now,  Meaningful Gigs can fill that gap and handle the logistics to build trust and ensure reliability, for both the employers (who will pay 30–40% less than the industry average) and world-class African designers (who will get paid 40%+ higher than their industry average). Seems like a win-win! 

But, the scary part is that we’d be the first company to solely focus on designers in Africa. And being the first means there are a lot of unknowns. It’s risky. 

So what did we do? We decided to be courageous. Sitting at Max’s dining room table on 10/26/2019, we decided to put all our efforts into connecting Africans with meaningful work. It felt right. We all high-fived while jumping in the air like in the commercials 🙂 

Cut to one month later, and it’s been a whirlwind! We’ve talked to 100+ extremely talented designers in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, all over Africa who can’t wait to start working with us and keep referring more people. It’s hard to keep up!

And they’re all pretty great! Check some out on africa.meaningfulgigs.com – beautiful right!??

What about what we’ve built in the US? 

We love and care about the 120+ wonderfully talented people in the US and Europe that have helped us build Meaningful Gigs. We’ll continue to work with them for the foreseeable future. We wouldn’t exist without them. We just won’t be taking any new designers that aren’t African. 

What’s next? 

We continue to grow rapidly in Africa, so we can impact more lives, and continue to fulfill our mission of giving underrepresented people opportunities to earn a sustainable living, do meaningful work, and make an impact. 

It won’t be easy, but we’ve got some amazing people like Christina Sass, co-founder of Andela, the largest employer of African software developers, and Sangu Delle, a wonderful friend who runs nonprofits and hospitals all over Africa, in our corner. Along with many others.