MobileWorks projects sourced from government
Anand Kulkarni, the CEO MobileWorks, which signed off on a deal with the Jamaican Government to introduce its work outsourcing programme here, says work contracts and the company's revenue source have so far come through national governments.
However, the start-up company which opened offices in 2010 and now employs 10 directly and "tens of thousands" indirectly - hopes to convert private-sector entities to its cause.
The agreement between San Francisco-based MobileWorks and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is expected to generate about 1,000 jobs within half a year and up to 10,000 long term, the ministry has said.
"We establish contracts with governments," said Kulkarni. "We have plans to index large commercial sources of work. Our customer contracts are typically confidential, but they include search companies, and financial services companies."
MobileWorks' crowdsourcing technology involves human optical character recognition tasks that can be completed by workers on low-end mobile phones connected through a web browser.
The technology disaggregates large projects into smaller, more manageable jobs, which can be undertaken by multiple IT-savvy individuals working in remote locations.
MobileWorks is looking to go global with its operation.
"We are investing heavily in expansion this year worldwide, but we have a particular interest in Jamaica due to its proximity to the United States and the opportunity for us to provide an outsize economic impact in line with our social agenda. We are privately held and our financial data is not public," said Kulkarni.
"We are optimistic that Jamaica will provide a strong source of talent due its strong cultural and geographic similarity to the United States. It also provides third-largest English-speaking workforce in the Western Hemisphere and shares a time zone with the United States, which makes it uniquely situated for microwork," he said.
Kulkarni indicated that Micro-Workers earn anywhere from US$5 to US$20 per day, "depending on what kind of work they do and how long they work."
The pay rises in tandem with the sophistication of the assigned task, he said.
In Jamaica, he said, MobileWorks is looking forward to partnering with local organisations that can assist with sourcing and training workers to use MobileWorks, and local entrepreneurs who can design new microwork services that employ Jamaicans using MobileWorks, Kulkarni said.