Finding the right, highly-skilled talent is particularly difficult in emerging markets. Since its founding in 2016, human resources startup Shortlist has screened over 400,000 candidates for more than 300 clients like Uber Eats, Shell and Twiga Foods. With offices based in Nairobi, Mumbai and Hyderabad — and services throughout Kenya and India — the growing team of 65 plans to continue to expand within Eastern Africa in 2019.
Today, the company announced it closed a $2 million Series A raise, making their total funding $3 million. The round was led by Blue Haven Ventures, who were joined by Zephyr Acorn, Compass Venture Capital and Rafiki. Shortlist’s Managing Director and 30 Under 30 honoree Ariane Fisher explains what’s next for the HR tech business. “With our funding, we plan to expand our reach and relationships with top job seekers and improve how we match those job seekers with amazing career opportunities, as well as continue our geographic expansion across Africa.”
Sub-Saharan Africa’s workforce is projected to skyrocket to more than 800 million people by 2030, creating an opportunity to innovate how the region’s companies are recruiting their employees. Fisher notes how this Series A raise will help Shortlist double-down on efforts to facilitate how employers are scaling out their teams.
“We’re excited to continue exploring different applications of our product across the broader African continent, where we see so much need for new and better ways to understand the skills, attitudes, and motivations of job seekers and new and better ways for employers to make hiring decisions,” Fisher says.
Comparatively speaking, what Shortlist is doing within recruitment isn’t too divergent from U.S.-based HR systems. But what they sell that larger companies like ZipRecruiter don’t is a personalized “human” experience. That and the fact that digital HR is still a developing market in places like Kenya and within Eastern Africa, Shortlist is building a brand that is intended to appeal to both early-stage startups and large corporate entities in predominantly untapped areas.
CEO Paul Breloff illustrates why Shortlist stands apart; compared to, say, a company that relies on algorithmic recruitment services only. He considers the approach of scraping keyword data from LinkedIn to using natural language processing (NLP) when filtering out job applications a method that misses human potential – and pits the youth entering emerging markets at a disadvantage.
“There are more people entering the workforce in Africa alone in the next ten years than the rest of the world combined — yes, combined — and if we don’t find new ways to identify hidden talent, companies won’t be able to build the teams they need to succeed, and the youth bulge will have a hard time finding a steady job, let alone unlocking their potential,” Breloff writes.
In the past, Shortlist has been backed by Shell Foundation, AHL Venture Partners and University Ventures. It was also named to the London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘Companies to Inspire Africa’ 2019 report.