In December, Google announced seven Indonesian startups that will be participating in the first round of Launchpad Accelerator programme in California from January 17-30. One of the most outstanding startups in the list is Kerjabilitas, an online job portal dedicated to differently-challenged professionals.
“We discuss with our friends and communities about the challenges we might face there. There will be technically focussed mentoring during this session, so we don’t have any specific preparation. Just focus more on our long-term plan for our app, as the main focus will be the app [during the event],” says Director Rubby Emir, speaking to e27 about preparing for departure to the US.
Apart from building a profile and applying for jobs in the database, differently-challenged professionals can also seek career advice in Kerjabilitas’ blog, e-books and podcast series.
The mobile and desktop app is a service provided by Jogjakarta-based non-profit organisation Saujana, which focusses on utilising technology and media to help less fortunate members of society and for environmental conservation.
Kerjabilitas is currently funded through grants from Cipta Media Seluler, Ford Foundation’s funding programme for tech-based social projects.
In September 2014, the project was shortlisted from 300 applicants from across the country. The team then used the first funding for market validation research.
“Our focus at the moment is raising funds through donors instead of investors, as we are more of a non-profit, though we do have elements of social enterprise,” he explains.
Beating the odds
One of the most pressing issues faced by many differently-challenged professionals is the lack of access to job opportunities. Not only is information in vacancies hard to get, the number of inclusive workplaces is also limited.
“There is no indication in mainstream portals such as Jobstreet or JobsDB that a vacancy might be disabled-friendly … Even the portals themselves may not be accessible for certain types of disability,” Emir says.
Another issue is the capability of the professionals themselves. It is hard for them to compete with the general public as there is still limited education access for special needs students, especially at university level.
Though Saujana has yet to evaluate the project’s social impact, a survey conducted by the team confirmed that there are 11 professionals who have managed to secure a job through the portal.
Emir recalls one’s struggle just to get called for an interview.
“He was one of our most resilient users. He often asked us [for] advice on how to get a job, how to get ahead in his career … We ended up giving him some kind of mentoring on how to write a good CV, how to pass an interview, those basic stuff,” he says.
Even when differently-challenged professionals managed to get through the interview stage, the chances for them to get the job is still relatively small.
“That is something that we need to learn more about … In the first year, we may have focussed more on attracting users to use the platform. In the next years, we need to focus more on their experience in using the platform,” Emir says.
Bringing forward the good news
Kerjabilitas utilises both online and offline channels to market its service.
Indonesia’s differently-challenged professionals are heavy users of social media platforms, though there is still no segment for customers with special needs in these platforms’ marketing tools.
“We end up [working as if we were] handing out brochures, relying on our network of disabled communities and organisations … The greatest challenge is to connect with disabled professionals who are not part of any organisation or community,” Emir says.
The team also receives up to US$10,000 of monthly advertising budget from Google for Nonprofits.
For offline marketing, Kerjabilitas takes part in job fairs across Jogjakarta, Central Java and East Java, even though there is only one event that is solely focussed on jobs for disabled professionals. It also reaches out for potential users in inclusive schools.
Saujana is also looking for new ways to generate income for the service.
“We are also developing freemium features for our platform in the next semester, so employers will be charged for posting vacancy ads,” he explains.
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Image Credit: Saujana