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Read on to know how Meenakshi Jain of Helper4U is helping blue collared job seekers find a respectable job with the help of technology.
With the kind of hectic schedules today, there is a dire need for helpers everywhere in our society. The tricky part is to get a good one without much struggle, and in a short time. Meenakshi G Jain of Helper4U has been doing just that since the last 19 months – connecting different job givers and job seekers, across different fields of work, especially domestic help. She is determined to solve one of the practical and common problems that we face today.
Meenakshi worked as an E-Learning professional and corporate trainer with some years of exposure to project management and business development too.
As there was an increasing need to find jobs by maids and find maids by households, Meenakshi decided to maintain a database of maids for her colony. Slowly the nearby slums in Mumbai started approaching her and shared their challenges in getting a job.
The main reason for not being able to land in a job, as Meenakshi describes, is little to no networking. Hence Meenakshi and her husband Punit, have deicided to make use of the extensive use of mobile phones across segments to connect the job seekers and job givers, which eventually led to the birth of MaidForU. Along with maids, many boys started approaching them too and MaidForU became Helper4U. As their venture grew, they started getting calls from in and around Mumbai and Pune, which led to its natural expansion.
Helper4U enables Job Givers and Job Seekers to connect with each other. Thereby the Job Giver can talk directly with the job seeker, discuss employment terms, salary etc., and hire them directly. The Job Giver can browse many Job Seekers’ profiles before deciding on having a discussion with a few of the desired candidates.
Meenakshi says that the biggest joy lies in the fact that they have started helping Job Seekers get jobs (often better than what they already had) in a respectable way, without begging anyone for work, or paying anyone for getting a job. She adds, “It brings a lot of satisfaction. We have managed to help migrant women get a job before moving to Mumbai, which meant that they did not have to spend a single day in a new city on the road.”
Adding to the facts, Meenakshi reveals, “Interestingly, a few people have registered with us from other places like Nasik, Akola, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Arunachal Pradesh and found jobs in Mumbai. So, our vision of being the first choice platform among migrants looking for jobs across India looks achievable.”
Though the process looks easy once a job seeking person is on board, there is hard work behind getting prospective helpers. For this reason, Meenakshi and her team regularly visit slums and hold contact programs there. She adds, “We also use banners and posters, and distribute pamphlets. We have also done auto branding in Pune.”
On the other side, with respect to Job Givers, currently they are using online channels like FB ads and Google Adwords. Meenakshi says, “We rank quite high on Google Search. We plan to start focused contact programs in high-rise societies in the coming months to increase visibility.”
We often hear about many agencies for hiring domestic help. When asked Meenakshi if these are of any competition to her venture, she says, “Not really a competition as most of them is like an online agency. You still hire by placing your requirement with them. We enable a direct connect between the Job Seeker and Job Giver. In the process we offer faster hiring at a cheaper cost and with more options.”
Doing a basic background check of Job Seekers forms an important part of making the candidate’s profile available in their database. Meenakshi says, “We have tried to keep the charges of hiring minimal for the Job Givers, so the basic verification that we conduct is of telephone number, Aadhar Card number and a basic interview. All other services like police verification, criminal background check, residence check, etc., are offered through third party vendors, at an additional fee.”
Meenakshi adds, “So far there has been no bad experience or even complaint in the last 19 months. That has strengthened our trust and faith in the goodness of people. We feel chances of fraud on side of Job Seeker reduce especially because they proactively call in to register themselves for a job, with their phone number and Aadhar card. The same goes for Job Giver – they make the effort to search and pay to get the contact details, so they genuinely need the helpers.”
There are some glitches though, as Meenakshi recalls, “The only sad thing has been that most of the times when we have helped businesses to hire by hand holding them through the interview process, before taking advance fees, the payments have not been made for many months. So, self-service and online payments before getting contact details are largely going to be the way of the future for us.”
Delhi is the next city that the Helper4U team is keen to try. Meenakshi adds, “Delhi will help us reach Gurgaon, Noida and Faridabad too. And I am from Delhi so that is closer to my heart too.”
They also plan to train the Job Seekers with respect to soft skills/ basic etiquette rather than specific skills like cooking. She says, “I plan to use my E-learning experience and get the training done digitally, largely using phones. We are trying to use technology as much as possible and reduce dependency on human intervention. That is the only way to scale it and make it uniform. We are working on it and are hopeful of going live this year.”
Meenakshi says that the attrition rate is highest among young boys for reasons like mismatched aspirations and skills, commitment issues, long travel to work and preferring to work in fancy places like malls. She adds, “Our subscriptions are valid for a few days so the employer can find someone else and hire them if they don’t like any one helper. That is the beauty of the online service. Multiple options for both sides, at minimal or no cost. Also, I personally talk to the customers and answer all their questions.”
Helper4U has recently won a $250,000 award from Internet.org, which was a proud achievement for Meenakshi and her team. Meenakshi adds, “Within our first year we won the award. It has been bootstrapped so far and with the award, we now have some comfort in the financial area.”
Talking about the details, she says, “The competition was to find a tech enabled service making difference to the lives of migrants. We went through an interview process with people from across the globe, representing various stakeholders, including Facebook. They were convinced that in the long run this could make real difference to the lives of migrants looking for jobs in a new city.”
Apart from the co-founders of Helper4U, Meenakshi and her husband Punit, she has a technology head and a digital marketing head. They used to have freelancers working for promotional activities, which she is slowly replacing with full time workers. Their team largely spends the day on responding to the calls from Job Seekers and Job Givers, promotional activities in slums and connecting with organizations working with bottom of the pyramid, with whom they can partner.
Meenakshi concludes, “Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey at times, so you need to have deep conviction in what you are doing. Else you might be tempted to give up too fast.”
You can follow Helper4U here: website, facebook, twitter handle: @HelperForU
You can follow Meenakshi Jain here: Linkedin
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Images source: Meenakshi Jain.
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