The entrepreneur has created a website that puts African self-employed entrepreneurs in touch with French companies that outsource IT tasks. After French-speaking Africa, Isabelle Mashola is targeting Asia and English-speaking Africa.
Isabelle Mashola, CEO of Isahit, received the Business O Féminin Award 2018 on Friday 25 May 2018 at Viva Tech. This award recognises a female founder of a start-up in the digital sector with strong ambitions for international development.
Isahit, founded in 2016, is a platform that links African autoentrepreneurs with companies that sub-contract computer tasks. The workers, named "HITers" for Human Intelligent Task, connect and perform tasks sent by 26 French companies partners : Some start-ups, e-commerce sites and even a global BNP Paribas group.
The task may be data processing, data analysis or content management. "These companies often use artificial intelligence. But robots can't do everything, for example, automatically reading an invoice will be impossible if it is handwritten. Our HITers will then check the work of the AI or do it for it," explains Isabelle Mashola.
Ten countries in francophone Africa
The entrepreneur created Isahit with Philippe Coup-Jambet in June 2016, after having passed through several large groups. "At the time I was working for Publicis. I decided to change and support women in the digital revolution. "Women , often students or entrepreneurs, are given priority in recruitment. They are then trained and also have a chatbot at their disposal in case of questions.
If Isahit is based in Paris, the start-up partnerships with local associations and incubators to offer co-working places to its own entrepreneurs. The platform was launched for the first time in Dakar, in December 2016, before extending to a dozen countries in francophone Africa. The most substantial market is now the Ivory Coast, with a hundred HITers.
Developing in Asia and English-speaking Africa
Isahit is not the main employer of these workers. With a maximum of 100 hours of work, the income does not exceed 280 euros per month. 2.80 per hour is advantageous for outsourcing companies. But, according to Isabelle Mashola, outsourcing is also positive for self-employed people. More than 500 million Africans live below the poverty line of 2 dollars a day according to the OECD. The impact, however, is dehumanised: the client does not know who is doing the work and is never in contact with that person.
In order to guarantee 24/7 coverage, Isabelle Mashola wants to expand into a further ten countries. She is targeting Asia, with the Philippines, and English-speaking African countries such as Rwanda, Nigeria and Tanzania. The entrepreneur also wants to open up her client base to Africa. To support this international development, a second fundraising round of 2 million euros should be completed in September 2018, after the 800,000 euros raised in September 2017.
Isabelle Mashola has also signed a partnership with W-HA, the payment subsidiary of Orange, to make instant payments on mobile phones rather than by bank transfer. HITers then use their mobile account in shops, to withdraw cash or to pay back friends. The trial of this service, called Orange Money, has begun in Guinea. It is expected to be launched in Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Madagascar, Togo, Mali and Benin by September 2018.
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