Duma Works: changing the way Kenya’s businesses hire employees

Duma Works was launched in 2012 to show companies (specifically SMEs) in Kenya that investing up-front in recruiting pays off. Club Africa interviewed Arielle Sandor, CEO of Duma Works: “We help change the way Kenyan entrepreneurs hire employees. Over the years, we successfully handled 3,500 job matches for our 500+ clients. By efficiently connecting these employers and potential hires through our mobile platform, we help businesses grow and job seekers access new opportunities.”

The Kenyan job market is powered by relationships and by Small and Medium Businesses.

Cofounder and CEO Arielle Sandor, explains: “Most of the time social capital is the thing that gets people a foot in the door for their next job. Most businesses in Kenya haven’t invested in their HR department, and view the people hired there as administrators and compliance personnel. This means that often time, having a structured and objective recruiting process gets overlooked, as it doesn’t appear to impact bottom line in the short term. It takes a MD with a long-term vision to invest first in their people, and then in their cost-cutting.”

What is the biggest loophole that Duma is fixing?

“Because there is a lack of process and transparency in the recruiting function, people are hired for who they know at the company and not what they can do. With Duma Works, there is a data-driven and transparent process that drives the recruiting engine. We use skills tests, created in Kenya based on client needs, which we share with candidates to evaluate their technical and “soft-skills” capabilities even before even speak with them. Through our platform, HR and managers are able to view the tests that the candidates went through in order to make a decision about who gets through to the interview.”

What makes Duma different from other solutions?

“Duma Works is one of the only recruitment agencies in the region that has invested in technology-driven recruitment in order to achieve greater transparency, while lowering costs. Through Duma Works, clients receive a more rigorous recruiting service, while only paying half the price - and because of our technology - we get candidates to the client in 5-10 days - a fraction of the time it usually takes.”

How did you tailor the Duma platform to Kenyan needs?

“Our software has been localized to include an SMS integration - so job seekers who aren't online constantly can apply via SMS message, and also get alerts about the job via SMS. Secondly, the skills tests that we create are geared for hiring locally - sometimes the job descriptions are for a role that is very in-sync with what that job title means in the western world, but not always. Having custom-made tests created for our clients in Kenya means that candidates are getting screened for the skills they will need at their job in Kenya, not a skill set that would be needed from that job in the US or Europe.”

 “We have established a strong brand as a recruiter that small and medium enterprises can trust to recruit phenomenal candidates, and communicate consistently throughout the entire process. Testimonials from our clients and job seekers speak of our thorough process, consistent communication, and not having to know anyone or pay anything to get a job.”

Is the Kenyan market maturing?

“The 2017 election was hard, particularly in the recruitment and the SME space. A lot of business owners were hit hard. I think in order for the Kenyan market to fully mature, we need to get rid of the tremendous impact that political risk creates nationally (and regionally). We’ve heard about a positive outlook for 2018 regarding investments being made in projects in Kenya by international and local investors. We hope that the strides that the private sector continue to make forward will outweigh the damage often cause by political risk.”

What next steps are you planning for Duma?

“Duma Works is expanding into a few other services we offer clients. One that we are particularly excited about it helping companies demonstrate their great brand and work culture to job seekers. In the month of February, we launched our pilot campaign with the popular band and production company, Sauti Sol Entertainment. The videos and social media campaign we created with them about their work culture and team were not only lots of fun, but I think made a big impact on the quality of applicants we got for their applicant pool. We are looking forward to working with other companies to collaborate on creative methods to attract top talent to join their organizations.”

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