This Dubai-based marketplace helps enterprises recruit migrant workers in a streamlined manner
Huntr helps enterprises connect with government and training partners to source, manage, and onboard job-ready migrants into the workforce.
Migrant workers account for over 5% of the global labour force. There are over 169 million international migrant workers, according to the International Labour Organization. Despite their growing contribution to the global economy, the migrant workforce has to deal with the challenges of legacy hiring practices, exploitation, and even human trafficking.
Samuel Joy observed these challenges during his stint as a senior digital consultant for the Emirates Group and an advisor to the World Bank and the United Nations on youth employment.
He realised that several organisations used exploitative legacy hiring systems, which could lead to severe problems such as human trafficking.
“I noticed a problem in how blue-chip companies used outdated systems to recruit blue-collar workers,” says Samuel in a conversation with YourStory Gulf Edition.
This led him to start, a Dubai-based migrant worker marketplace for blue-collar employment, in 2020. It helps enterprises (companies with 3,000 employees) connect with government and training partners to source, manage, and onboard a job-ready workforce in Middle East and North Africa. The team is of nine people today.
The focus is on recruiting migrants for blue-collar jobs such as janitors, delivery agents and construction workers.
Initially, Samuel pitched the idea of Huntr to the Emirates Group. Later, he decided to launch the startup independently and continued to be an advisor to the World Bank.
While building the Huntr platform, Samuel roped in his acquaintance Prem Nair as the co-founder and COO of the company. Prior to Huntr, Prem had co-founded a $30-million defence contracting business.
How the platform works
Huntr endeavours to streamline the recruitment process for enterprises, which post job openings on the web platform. Once the openings are posted, the platform assigns a specialist service provider to shortlist the best candidates. Then the enterprises can set up interviews and hire candidates, again through the platform.
Huntr seeks to be a one-stop solution for recruitment, processing, visa, paperwork, and onboarding of new recruits.
“Our platform ensures that suitable candidates are efficiently matched with the right companies and seamlessly onboarded into the workforce,” says Samuel. “It eliminates the need to navigate multiple job boards or rely on multiple layers of brokers, resulting in a more streamlined and efficient process.”
The startup founder says Huntr helps enterprises save thousands of dollars by finding trained candidates, who are then onboarded in under 30 days—compared to legacy systems that take 2-3 months.
Huntr’s overall objective is to resolve the issue of modern-day slavery in global workspaces. This goal is in line with UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 8, which states “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”
As Huntr’s SaaS software is tailored to each client, the pricing depends on client needs, the number of users, and hires. A one-time custom placement fee is also charged, based on the position and the size of the company.
Comparable startups include HaHuJobs, a web platform that connects workers in Ethiopia with employers in major global cities, and Seekr, which helps job seekers in the Caribbean region.
Impact of the marketplace
The Huntr marketplace has enabled government and training partners to recruit over 2,000 candidates for companies such as Amazon, Dubai Airport, and Abu Dhabi Airport.
Samuel says Huntr had also successfully connected candidates from the healthcare sector—compounders, nurses, janitors—with job opportunities, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A report in the Wired states that Huntr was recently responsible for hiring several Malawian workers for an unnamed large client in Dubai. The team of Huntr worked with the Malawian president, H E Joyce Banda, with regard to passports and medical requirements.
Growth of the platform
Huntr has raised $420k to date. It is currently part of the Techstars NYC Accelerator programme and is gearing up for a seed round in the first quarter of 2023.
Huntr has received funding from notable venture capital firms in the US, such as Techstars New York and Crescent Ridge VC.
Although the startup has managed to attract funds, funding was a challenge in the initial days. Samuel tackled this by taking a lean startup approach and bootstrapping the company in the early stages.
“This allowed me to focus on building a minimum viable product and hitting certain milestones before seeking outside investment,” says Samuel. “By de-risking the investment in this way, I was able to attract the necessary funding to continue growing my business.”
Samuel says, despite the challenges, starting a business in Dubai is easy, with the help of the government initiative ‘In5’—a startup and business incubator programme.
This year Huntr plans to expand operations to the United States, as it has received several requests from large enterprises in the country.
“This move is a natural progression of our growth strategy, as we aim to serve our clients better by providing local support and increasing our geographical reach,” says Samuel.
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Edited by Swetha Kannan