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Digital can help women reach their goals

May 12, 2019

Promoting the emancipation of women in emerging countries by entrusting them with digital missions is the idea of the start-up Isahit, one of the winners of the CSR Challenges 2019.

This is the story of an IT engineer who, after having succeeded in breaking through the glass ceiling in a very male sector, wanted to help other women to become emancipated through their work. After a very successful career in top positions at Cisco, Dell and then Publicis, Isabelle Mashola, barely in her fifties, decided to leave the comfort of the workplace in 2016: "The desire to change doesn't arise one morning when you wake up, it builds its nest little by little. After I resigned, I turned down a first job, then a second one, then I worked as a freelancer. But that wasn't enough for me. It was a trip to Africa and the meeting of her partner, Philippe Coup-Jambet, a "serial entrepreneur", that helped put together the pieces of the puzzle of Isahit, a start-up specialising in the outsourcing of IT tasks.

L'Express values the contribution of women to the economy.

"When I was still an employee, I invested myself and a group of friends in a small association that bought sewing machines for young women living in Cameroon and Burkina Faso, to enable them to develop their professional activity. After meeting some of these women at home, I realized that "giving" is good, but that the most important thing in a life is work. And it is through work that women in emerging countries can emancipate themselves and contribute to the economic development of their countries. Thus was born Isahitco-founded with her partner in January 2017.

Digital micro-tasks

The idea is simple: an online platform that offers non-robotic but time-consuming work to young women who were previously inactive because they could not find a job or continue their studies. Today, the start-up employs more than 1,000 women in 23 different countries; 90% of them are university graduates, with an average age of 26. " Our clients are companies with digital projects to outsource in the field of artificial intelligence or data processing," explains Isabelle Mashola. Among them are big names such as Adecco, Airbus, Engie, La Poste, L'Oréal and Sodexo, to whom it offers a choice of different packages adapted to their mission and deadlines.

"Our platform divides projects into digital micro-tasks, then we offer women members of our network the opportunity to carry out these missions, online, if necessary after training. These micro-tasks can take various forms: invoice entry, chatbot training (conversation robot), image clipping, content moderation, etc. The organization is very fluid: on the one hand, Isahit's clients, i. e. more than 150 different companies, integrate their projects on the platform, and on the other hand, the "workers" or "heirs" choose the missions that interest them, for which they will be paid according to the time spent. At what rate? "285 euros per 100 hours of work, regardless of the mission and country of residence".

An additional income

Far from European standards, Isahit's CEO agrees: "But if you compare this rate with the average salary in emerging countries, around 150 euros per month, the work is well paid. Above all, we do not want this activity to become sustainable, it must remain an additional source of income for these women. Like a hand extended at some point in their lives, which allows them to continue their studies or gain autonomy from their families. Similarly, 5% of Isahit's turnover should be used to finance digital training and equipment for the most disadvantaged women, who can use local hubs with which partnerships are formalized to work.

Isahit is therefore a digital and socially responsible startup - a profile that seduced the jury of the CSR challenges led by Nora Barsali, founder of News RSE and the Trophies of the same name: "We were struck by the maturity ofIsabelle Mashola's project, because in a very short time it has managed to spread internationally to more than 20 countries with very different cultures. Moreover, Isahit already has 130 clients, large and small, in just two years. Finally, we believe that this type of project, which enables women in emerging countries to develop their skills, can promote local entrepreneurship.

And make a profit? Today we are not profitable," admits Isabelle Mashola, which has based its business model on matchmaking. But the potential market is huge - $50 billion in 2023 for the artificial intelligence sector alone. Enough to turn the start-up into a sustainable business? The entrepreneur, who has already created 14 jobs in Paris, is currently raising funds to accelerate the development of the platform.

Source: Express - Expansion

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