The gig economy in Kenya: Hiring contractors online & getting hired as a freelancer

The gig economy in Kenya has created new ways for workers in Kenya to find work that they can do whenever they want and still make a good income. Employers and businesses on the other hand have also found an easy way to get things done without spending lots of cash upfront towards purchases such as motor vehicles and salaries.

There are now many on-demand services where many businesses can tap into a pool of extremely talented, competent, savvy experts in a variety of niches without going through the hassle of hiring them full-time.
You see this a lot with cab hailing apps. Now, you can tap a button on your smartphone and a cab appears in your location in a few minutes thanks to companies like Uber, Little Cab, Bolt and Lyft. These companies have created platforms that connect owners of vehicles and people needing can services. They don’t own a large percentage of the equipment that makes their business work.

Individuals on the other hand can use these platforms to make extra money with by making themselves available to ferry passengers (using their own cars) wherever they want to go.

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And then there are platfroms that just focus on connecting businesses with short-term hires. Platforms that employers can go to when we they want something to be done for them – like a quick design work for their app / website or getting an article written for them. These are the platforms employers and businesses turn to when they don’t have a particular skillset in-house.

For example, a hotel with chefs, waitresses and managers, can turn to a freelance marketplace to find someone to work on a booking engine for their business – someone to create a website for then that visitors can go to to make bookings online. Or where a news site can hire someone temporarily to work on fixing something on their website or app.

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I myself, I work as a freelance writer. Though not employed at say a news site like Daily Nation or The Standard Media Group:

  • I can still find writing work, do them and get paid. I can decide when to look for the work and when to do it (set my own hours). I can enjoy doing what I love, not as a full-time employee, and still make good money monthly.
  • Other bloggers and small business websites in need of content writers can turn to me and pay me to write blog posts for them (usually if they don’t have someone in their team to do this or if they want to increase content production by using what they produce from within plus what they outsource to contractors).

Advantages to individuals that want to make some money with online side hustles

It is not that hard to get started once you are skilled in particular field. Usually all one needs is access to a computer and an internet connection. For example, to be able to do my freelance writing work, I use my smartphone and laptop to find clients, write the content, send the content, send invoices for work done and then I get paid.

The computer I use already have all the programs I need to do my work – MS Word, Notepad and web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox. For a web designer, they will still need a computer and software to do someone of the work clients outsource to them like Photoshop or use other alternatives like Gimp or Canva. So, getting started is not that hard.

They can work from home. Once a person buys data bundles on their smartphone, they can just hotspot their laptop or tablet and get to work from the comfort of their living room or home office. So, even professionals with day jobs can take advantage of the gig economy by doing some work (similar to what they do during the day) for other clients in the evenings all from the comfort of their homes.

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An IT technician can for example get work writing articles for blogs selling IT equipment. Or they can offer consultation services I we the web. All they need probably is a way to connect with clients that hire them – and applications such as Zoom or Skype usually work well.

Advantages to small business owners

Businesses now don’t have to employ people for everything they need done. There was a time when business owners had to get full-time employees for things like app development, web development or software development. If they didn’t, there was no way for them to bring some of their projects / ideas to life. Or they had to rely on people they knew who weren’t that good.

But now, business owners can just use various platforms online (apps) to find competent professionals they can outsource tasks to in any of those areas. So, they don’t have to employ employees that do development work but still get their applications done. They don’t have to create a new position in their organization and advertise a vacancy for a developer and yet still get their apps developed with the help of freelancers.

Greater access to people with various talents / skills. Another benefit business owners are seeing from the gig economy is the great access they have to professionals in whatever field they are interested in hiring in. They can easily access taken from different part of Kenya – work with anyone from any county in Kenya. And two, they can also turn to professionals from other countries as well if they need to.

For example, a business needing translation work done (from English to Chinese / German) can hire Kenyans online who are fluent in these languages or just turn to nationals of these countries (China / Germany) to get their work / documents translated.

So, while you watch the news and sometimes see people mention one or two things that needs to be changed by the owners of platforms that champion remote work / gigs there are several benefits to individuals (looking for work with flexible hours) and employers / businesses looking for temporary hires (that they can turn to only for certain projects). One of those benefits is the on-demand nature of these services:

  • one is only aid only for the work they do
  • individuals can just sign up and make themselves available to businesses looking for people with the particular skillset they possess
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And then there are many platforms on the market for all kinds of things:

  • errand services
  • taxi / can services
  • boda boda services
  • courier / delivery services
  • online freelance work

The platforms that connect employers and contractors usually take the shape of websites / apps. So, you will find lots of classified sites or websites where people can bid for jobs frequented by both of these parties. And they can be found by simple Google searches such as ‘hire freelancer writers‘ I’d you are a writer or a business looking for writers or ‘hire app developers’ if you are looking for developers for an Android or iOs application.

To me the gig economy is a blessing because anyone can take advantage of it to make extra money, find rare talent, connect & work with great people whenever they want and still make good money.

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