CHF International, an international development firm based in the United States, received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support CHF’s urban development work, and more specifically, create a virtual employment marketplace for day labourers who live in slums. The EarthTimes explains the value of this virtual tool, called LabourNet:
LabourNet uses mobile technology, such as automated, multilingual SMS messaging, GIS and GPS applications, to announce daily job openings. It provides training opportunities, access to health insurance, the ability to open bank accounts and receive proper identification cards for workers who have been denied these social benefits. The system also offers assistance to the growing professional class and mid-sized business community who find it difficult to access the “unorganized” labor sector. LabourNet provides an answer to this growing demand by providing simplified access to qualified, reliable, skilled workers, and taking care of the time-consuming hassle of training workers and arranging benefits.
With urbanization comes a host of issues, including the need for steady employment. What I like most about this application is that it’s not merely a job board – it also provides infromation on other related activities, such as insurance and bank accounts. With a very transient unorganized job market and labor force, I wonder how they will keep their systems up to date, but there is definitely scope to make an impact on the urban slum population.