Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Future looks bright in Myanmar as jobs platform Work gets 600,000 monthly pageviews

Southeast Asia is full of promising markets, ready to be tapped by the right players at the right time. For Myanmar, the country which just started to open up to the world in 2011, the right time for internet companies to take full advantage of the new ecosystem is perhaps tomorrow. But Rocket Internet has been taking first-mover advantage since 2012. 

Jort Statema from the jobs portal Work.com.mm – one of the sites under a joint venture between Rocket and telco Ooredo – told us some of the challenges they face when venturing into Myanmar’s online space. Operating since June 2012, the 12-man team at Work pursued various online and offline initiatives to educate the market and get companies and regular people on board the job search service. The site has 50,000 registered job seeker profiles and 4,000 company profiles, recording 90,000 visits per month and 600,000 monthly pageviews. Each month the platform sees 2,000 new job posts, with 80,000 job applications in total completed within the site.

Myanmar’s tech scene looking good Myanmar’s internet penetration is still quite low, about four million users (about seven percent of the population) today. But given that this country just received unrestricted internet access in 2011, that number is good. In fact, Statema says that the country’s internet penetration can potentially grow as much as 50 percent in 2015. So they are more than ready to ride the internet’s rapid growth moving forward.

 Some offline initiatives that Work pay attention to when building a tech company in Myanmar include advertisements in internet cafes and attending job fairs. “We also regularly invite jobseekers to our office to show how our website works and assist in uploading their CV to the site”, says Statema. Besides the low internet penetration, the team also finds other challenges in Myanmar. “The biggest challenges are educational and cultural,” Statema adds:

Only a small percentage of the government budget is allocated to education, which results in a generally poor level of education. The standard of English is often low and we see that there’s no real culture of applying to jobs like there is in many other parts of the world. Many people are not familiar with a basic layout of a CV or don’t know how to prepare for a job interview.

Statema admits that tech companies in a new market such as Myanmar should not expect to be profitable today, but the wait until that time arrives might not be that long. Work is already monetizing by selling premium features like logo ads, sponsored “top jobs” placements, and Facebook advertisements. Recently, the team also earned some cash by selling CV packages, which helps companies search for Myanmar talent more easily inside the database. “I would say that there’s a general willingness to explore opportunities in the online market,” says Statema. “Many international companies that are coming into Myanmar already have experience with online recruitment and know its advantages, while local firms realize the country is changing and internet is the future.” 

The team over at Work is still focusing on enhancing the platform’s features as best as they can while keeping things simple for new users. “Myanmar is a really promising country that is quickly transforming itself. Given the history of the region, the pace at which change is happening is astounding, and we think that the future of ventures such as work.com.mm is very bright,” explains Statema. Besides Work, the Rocket and Ooredo joint venture has other sites in Myanmar like classifieds sites Motors.com.mm and House.com.mm. LinkedIn is also present in Myanmar.

source: Tech in Asia
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