× Business BUSINESS MOTORING SHIPPING & LOGISTICS DR PESA FINANCIAL STANDARD Digital News Videos Health & Science Lifestyle Opinion Education Columnists Moi Cabinets Arts & Culture Fact Check Podcasts E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Travelog TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS

Talent Soko: Couple makes job hunting easier

By Allan Mungai | Oct 6th 2021 | 6 min read
By Allan Mungai | October 6th 2021
Victor and Linda Machoka are connecting employers to talent in the market using their app Talent Soko. [Courtesy]

Every year, millions of young people graduate from colleges and universities with the hope that they will secure employment. Some of them do, but most don’t.

Victor Machoka had an idea that he thought would make it easier to connect job seekers and prospective employers. Together with his wife and a group of friends, they launched Talent Soko, a mobile app, in December 2020.

How did the idea for Talent Soko come about?

I’m a director at Fred’s Ranch, an expansive cowboy-themed resort located in Isinya, Kajiado County. One day, we were conducting interviews for waiters and other hospitality-related positions. A sharp, young girl in her mid-twenties walked in and sat in front of the panel. She had completed high school with straight As, joined university and graduated with a degree in Statistics. She was now interviewing for a job in the resort. “Any job,” she told the panel. My heart broke.

The pain of knowing that she is intelligent and probably very hard working and yet we did not have a suitable position for her devastated me. This wasn’t the first time a young, bright youth had come before us looking to make ends meet through a job that was not aligned to their career training. 

It occurred to us that thousands of young people in Kenya have no idea where to start when looking for a job opportunity. Owing to desperation, they end up taking jobs that don’t suit them, consequently wasting their expertise after years of training. 

We then decided that it was time to do something about it.

So how did you eventually launch Talent Soko?

We decided as a family -including members of the extended one - to develop a concept connecting employers to service providers of different skills and talents. We had been challenged to come up with a unique business proposal that would help solve a major problem in society. Considering how technology has been of help in making work easier we deliberated with close friends and launched the Talent Soko Africa App.

What is your ambition for Talent Soko?

Our ambition for Talent Soko is to connect millions of trained and untrained labourers to the right job opportunities across Africa and the world.

We desire to see young girls empowered to provide for themselves, without having to take shortcuts.

We want to see the nature of jobs transformed, not only focusing on permanent and pensionable employment in large corporations, but also informal employment which accounts for 80 per cent of the African economy.

There is no reason why a ‘mama-fua’ (cleaning lady) or that plumber shouldn’t have a steady client list through leveraging on technology. Talent Soko should free youth from ‘hakuna kazi’ (no jobs). By registering millions of youth in the continent on the app’s database, we can change the labour market from being employer-biased to employee-biased.

How supportive is the Kenyan technological infrastructure for such an idea?

Kenya has a good technological support system and internet preparedness to boost any ardent entrepreneur who wants to make a difference. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but Kenya is much better compared to other African countries. There are also some potential investors in the industry if an entrepreneur shows potential. 

How is it running a business to connect employees and employers in a country with some of the highest unemployment rates?

We believe there are two problems with unemployment in Kenya which include mismatched opportunities and misguided expectations.

The first is simply about matching the right person to the right job and that is what Talent Soko Africa is leveraging on technology to do. That way, both employers and employees are all fishing in the right ponds.

The second is unfortunate because many Kenyans believe that there are no jobs available. This mindset is an entirely false notion in my view as we’ve been hiring people for over a decade. The one thing that’s consistent is the lack of good, hardworking and committed people to do the job. I know this sounds controversial, but my experience is that for every one person I have had to fire as an employer, five have resigned of their own volition. Some of them simply go and sit at home and wait to go for another interview. We need a cultural mind-shift in this area and the job market will change in Kenya.

Your key goal is to onboard the informal sector, have you seen a difference in the reception of the service?

Yes, again, here there lies the cultural barrier. We have made good inroads in the informal sector connecting electricians, plumbers, hair stylists, house helps and many others to potential employers and this has been really well received.

I think the challenge with informal services is that people prefer referrals from friends for these positions or other casual jobs believing this mitigates risk, but it rarely does.

Our paranoia about getting a stranger to do some manual or casual task for us paralyses the job market. It locks out a big chunk of people by limiting their exposure to the employers who know them only. But if I travel to Kisumu and I need to do my hair urgently, must I go to someone I know? I don’t think so.

The other challenge is that many of them do not have smartphones to access the Talent Soko app.

Where do you think the next big disruption will take place in the sector?

The next big disruption will be in the provision of convenience and ease of carrying out daily household chores. 

It will definitely be in formalising the informal sector. Africa’s population growth rate will always outpace employment opportunities. We will have to begin appreciating and tuning the job market to favour informal employment if we want to bridge that economic divide. We will have to open our labour market the way e-commerce platforms have opened up the retail business. Nowadays you can order a phone from someone you’ve never met at a shop that you’ve never been to and it’s delivered by someone you don’t know. That’s how we must liberalise the job market to allow equal opportunity for all young people to connect with a job they are qualified for anywhere and at any time.

What do you wish people knew about employment opportunities in Kenya?

We wish people knew that jobs are actually available both in and out of Kenya. They just need to take the trouble to move outside their comfort zones and go for them. Talent Soko is here to assist with that. People should stop relying on friends and relatives and make use of the technology available to open themselves up to the world.  

Do you think that providing people with access to employment opportunities can be a business?

Yes, that’s exactly what Talent Soko is. Think about it, any time there is a problem, that’s where the biggest money is to be made. Employment is a big problem in Africa and therefore it presents the biggest business opportunity yet. Solving that problem in Kenya is the economic equivalent of discovering oil. And we have what we need to solve this problem in Africa. Businesses are there to solve people’s problems.

Share this story
Face mask prices show how the laws of economics work
Mathematically speaking, masks were 10 times more expensive one year ago.
China rejected Kenya's request for Sh32.8b debt moratorium
China is Kenya’s largest bilateral lender with an outstanding debt of Sh692 billion.