Automation of HR systems key to productivity, Vimal Shah

Bidco Africa chairperson Vimal Shah receives a gift hamper from Co-Founders of SeamlessHR Dr Emmanuel Okeleji after the launch of employee welfare solution platform dubbed 'Barizi'. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Bidco Africa Chairperson Vimal Shah now says the automation of Human Resource systems is key to increasing productivity.

Shah said the automation of HR administrative tasks will not only better efficiency of systems but also remove the hassles of manual HR administration work.

He said as a result, the automation will replace the systems with digital solutions which improve the harmony between employees and their employer hence increasing productivity.

Shah spoke during the launch of an online platform that will allow employees to access their salaries before payday and manage financial emergencies without paperwork and at a lower cost.

Dubbed ‘Barizi’ the platform by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with technology firm SeamlessHR will also see casual workers build their credit history which enables them to access sizeable loans with longer repayment periods.

“The reality on the ground is that in Kenya we have a million people earning less than Sh30,000 per month. This results in many casual workers having little or no access to credit, even though they are the ones who keep the wheels moving in organizations and factories,” Shah said. 

In Kenya, casual workers are paid between Sh100 and Sh450 per day for jobs ranging from cleaning, picking and packaging, washing, repairing and packaging dry cells. Most of these workers are paid at the end of the month, and do not enjoy additional benefits from their employers. 

“At Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe in financial inclusion for workers in the blue-collar sector. We also aim to break cycles of poverty especially for those who have to use physical assets when transacting using cash which can get lost or stolen,” said Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation representative, Will Kaplan.

Mr Kaplan said if these casual workers can get access to affordable credit to help households to smooth out consumption and become more resilient to economic shocks will be a success story for them.

According to KAM representative, Winnie Ngumi, “Out of 18 million workforce in Kenya, informal workers comprise over 80 per cent while only 2 million make up formal employment.

Most blue-collar workers tend to receive fewer benefits from employers and this explains their financial insecurity.

They do not have access to emergency funds, and thus tend to turn to loan shacks and predatory mobile lending apps, sinking into a cycle of debts.”

The 2023 economic survey indicated that in the 10 years between 2012 and 2022, the number of casual jobs had gone up by 134 per cent from 220,700 to 517,000 compared to a 29 per cent rise in the number of regular permanent jobs to 2.4 million.

“The Barizi solution will improve the financial state of wellbeing of casual workers. They do not have to worry about emergency money. This will in turn positively impact their drive and motivation and at the end improve their productivity,” said SeamlessHR CEO and Co-Founder Dr Emmanuel Okeleji.

Okeleji said the initiative is aimed at improving the overall financial well-being of the blue collar workers whose needs have been largely overlooked and creating a long lasting impact on this segment of Africa’s talent.

He said the platform is built on the latest cloud technology to ensure casual workers get instant financial wellness. The system can automatically calculate how long one has worked and one can access their salary up to the day they have worked.

“It's not a loan or a credit facility that uses employment as collateral. Barizi will give employees access to the wages they have earned for the days they have worked within the month” he said.

While affirming they have built a comprehensive technology tool to track time and attendance, the CEO said with the ability to access their hard-earned wages in real time, casual workers can transform their aspirations into realities and enable them to have a better life.

In the Kenyan market, the platform is backed by PesaLink and Diamond Trust Bank(DTB). The firm has also partnered with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, representing top casual worker employers.

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