Using AI to identify the right fit for job seekers and employers in Botswana

Thato Kasongo

The job application process is equally tasking for both the job seeker and the employer as they have to sift through numerous job posts and applications trying to find one that suits them. Mohiri, a Botswana-based startup, aims to ease this process by providing a service that connects both the job seeker and the company with their most ideal jobs and candidates. The company was founded in 2017. Founder Thato Kasongo (24) answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Mohiri is a personalised job alerts service that helps connect people to opportunities by sending them a targeted message whenever there is a job that matches their profile. Our onboarding process is fully automated through chatbots, and we use an AI tool that matches a user’s description to available jobs, which then triggers a message.

2. How did you finance your startup?

I bootstrapped the business from day one by doing digital marketing consultancy work on the side.

It was difficult because the model that we chose for the business meant that we would not make any money at all at least for the first year until we had built a strong enough brand to start selling jobs ads and other things.

To this day, we have not raised any finance at all, although this will probably change once we decide to expand regionally.

3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

It would go towards technology and expansion for sure.

I think that we are in an unique position where we can enrich our users’ lives by connecting them to more than just jobs. We are not doing it yet, but we know that the potential exists within our user base. We may look like an HR solution but we are more of a distributor, so the next phase for us is either finding more people to distribute job alerts to, or finding more products to distribute to our current audience, or both. This is what I would use the funds for.

4. What risks does your business face?

There are some pretty well capitalised job sites across the continent right now, most of which have investors to satisfy so they will be looking at expanding. If we do not move quickly, we could lose out on high potential markets. However, we are working on some partnerships within industries such as telecommunications, which could see us leverage our partners’ size and strength to grow and expand.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

Organic growth through engaging content has worked for us. Where possible, we always try to partner with bigger brands who have no interest in our industry except being seen, to just give free stuff to our audience as much as we can. People love free stuff, and this has worked well for us.

We also try to have uncomfortable conversations around the jobs market and other job-related issues that may be a bit prickly, but we have seen that people appreciate real conversations online and it helps make us more personable.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

I wouldn’t really mention one specific moment because I always try to stay centred, but when we launched, our Facebook page shot up to 10,000 likes in the first week, and at that time we didn’t even have a six-month plan. I couldn’t sleep the week after that, thinking, “What the hell have we done?” It was both scary and exciting. I’ve had better nights since.

7. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what you’ve learnt from it?

If you’re starting a tech-enabled startup, get a technical co-founder as soon as you’ve figured out what the three-year plan is. While I strongly believe that solitude is very important in the earliest phases, not having the resources in-house to develop and improve the technology quickly enough will definitely hurt your growth.

Further reading

[June 2020] The Ethiopian entrepreneur who wants to disrupt the paper industry
[June 2020] Ghana’s Sumundi helps small shopkeepers to digitise their operations
[June 2020] Food processing company taps into health trend with millet snacks
[May 2020] South African company JaSure sees a gap for on-the-go insurance
[April 2020] A product that reduces post-harvest losses in Ghana: Entrepreneur shares his story