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Rising Above: The Story of How Giraffe Is Tackling One of SA’s Biggest Social and Economic Problems

TechInAfrica – It’s no secret that SouthAfrica is in a state of turmoil. We carry on with our daily lives, fully aware that our president and his cabinet are liberally using our tax rands as their personal expense accounts, we routinely experience mass ‘load-shedding’ and we are constantly inundated with stories of violent crime and racial discrimination, just a few examples in a poignantly long list of social, political and economic injustices that blight the so-called rainbow nation. One can’t help but wonder if South Africans are incredibly thick-skinned, willfully ignorant or just dangerously apathetic?

In the midst of all this we have to confront another extremely concerning reality:SouthAfrica has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. This often seems to pale in comparison to some of the aforementioned problems we face, but I would strongly argue that this should not be the case, that our unsustainably high level of unemployment is a very pressing and alarming issue that needs to be tackled with priority.

’s unemployment rate stands at around 26%, according to the most recently published stats. Additionally, youth unemployment stands at around 50%, whilst entirely non-economically active individuals stand at 40%. Historically, those that remain in this bracket for an extended period become disillusioned with the idea of employment, slowly transitioning into discouraged work-seekers and, ironically, becoming far more difficult to employ. It is a vicious cycle that often results in these individuals turning to less savoury ways of making a living: the sad reality is that many will turn to crime.

In lieu of the Government implementing sustainable solutions to combat unemployment, the onus has fallen on the private sector. From large corporations to SMMEs, these businesses are making a massive difference in the lives of South Africans seeking employment. It is therefore imperative that systems are put into place to facilitate the employment process, particularly in matching work-seekers with entities looking to hire. This is where local startup, Giraffe, is really changing the game.

Giraffe was launched at the beginning of 2015 with the aim of streamlining the recruitment process by allowing jobseekers to create an electronic CV directly from any cellphone with browsing capability, at www.job.giraffe.co.za. A potential employer will then head over to www.giraffe.co.za to submit their requirements for the position they are looking to fill and Giraffe will automatically match them with the most suitable candidates from their database of screened, ID-certified candidate CVs. In the age of the smartphone, this concept just makes so much sense.

Local entrepreneurs Shafin Anwarsha, Anish Shivdasani and Bradley Cowie founded Giraffe as a means to address the growing unemployment problem in the country, a fact that is reaffirmed in their vision statement.

“Our vision is to help reduce unemployment in South – the single biggest issue in the country.”

Giraffe’s admirable social directive is coupled with a highly-innovative and robust online recruitment platform that is redefining the way in which employers and jobseekers connect, faster and more efficiently than ever before. The technology relies on a unique algorithm that not only considers standard CV dimensions such as education and work experience, but also perfomance in previous interviews, distance from the workplace and individual job preference, resulting in a better match for both seeker and employer.

The company has been operational for less than a year, but is already growing from strength to strength. Having hit over 70 000 registered users as of the end of 2015, Giraffe is already focusing on expansion as they look to hire new staff, particulary software developers to work on improving their algorithm, as well as implementing plans to bring their offering to Cape Town, Durban and the rest of the country this year. And although the company is not yet turning a profit, they expect to do so very soon as more users flock to the innovative service.

Giraffe really saw their efforts rewarded last year when they competed against 12 other startups in the Johannesburg qualifying leg of the Seedstars World startup competition , winning first place and qualifying to pitch at the world event in Geneva for a chance to win a $1.5million equity investment. Giraffe saw further accolades in being included in Ventureburn’s list of the top 5 tech startups in South Africa for 2015, as well as making it onto Disrupt Africa’s list of the 12 African startups to watch in 2016.

There can be no doubt that Giraffe is going to continue to make waves in South Africa and it’s entirely feasible that, in time, they will be able to enter international markets with their innovative concept and unique algorithm. For now, however, it is inspiring to see how quickly they have developed into one of the most exciting new startups in the country, gaining international recognition along the way.

It is safe to say that we will be monitoring the story of Giraffe with keen interest as they continue to make a difference in so many people’s lives. If there is a lesson to be learnt here, it is that the most successful business concepts are those that don’t focus solely on profit. In Giraffe’s case, they set out to fight unemployment in South Africa and, as a result, they developed a wildly successful and hugely profitable business, a model example for many potential startups looking to make their name.

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