Currently scaling from Nigeria with their eye on servicing the entire African continent, Placements is tackling the issue of youth unemployment and employability. Their vision? To be the go-to platform for undergraduates and graduates who are seeking internship opportunities and firms who are looking for fresh talent to work in Africa. Ayiba’s Sanet Oberholzer spoke to Ayobami Oyaleke, Placement’s CEO, to find out about the start-up’s model, what they have to offer and how they intend to make an impact in the long-run.

In a nutshell, what does Placements offer young graduates?

Placements is a search platform for Graduate and Undergraduate internship programs in Africa, scaling from Nigeria. We are reducing the level of unemployment in Africa by equipping interns with necessary skills to make them employable in the labour market and connecting them with employers to work with.

What pushed you to come up with this solution to address the economic, academic and employability challenges the youth in Africa face?

At a total population of 1.2 billion (Africa’s population) and at a market size of over $11 billion (Africa’s job market), it’s so saddening that there is no centralized system where employers and potential interns could go to for hiring interns and getting internship opportunities respectively.

Year after year, the rate of youth unemployment in Africa is shooting up. Internship programs have proven to be the smartest way of entering into an organization but the ease of securing an attachment for industrial training and internship in firms is becoming more challenging for students. The ever-growing number of applicants and the difficult processes of searching informed the need to provide a solution to make the whole process seamless and also crystallize all the potential value inherent in that sector for career development, enterprise development and job creation.

How far does your network of internship opportunities stretch – is it only focussed on Nigeria or does it stretch across the continent?

Our focus is on the masses – to reduce the level of youth unemployment in Africa at large. Presently we are operating in the Nigerian market which has a total population of over 180 million of which over 60% are youths. We are ageing 22 months officially and being a ground-breaker offering simple solutions to difficult problems (namely employment and employability), we have been able to serve over 27,000 interns in Nigeria, over 2000 employers and a successful conversion of over 4000 counting interns. We are projecting an increment in Impact at 300% year-on-year.

How do you generate your income and does your platform offer affordable solutions to young, unemployed graduates?

We offer a B2B and B2C business model. We charge the Interns an average subscription fee of $5 and the employers an average monthly subscription fee of $25 depending on the plan.

How do you measure your success?

As a business, we measure success by the number of quality internship opportunities we are able to expose the African youths to and the numbers of valuable connections we are able to make between the interns and the employers, which later projects a “company-employee”, i.e. turning into a full time employee from Internship.

As a young start-up, what problems have you experienced and how have you managed to successfully overcome them?

On the side of the interns, it’s basically consumer education and employability: the ability to convey to the intern that they can seamlessly land on a desired internship program without having to travel the cardinals which emphasises stress, cost and risk. Apart from that, an average intern is usually not found employable. We have created a platform to equip interns with necessary skills to make them employable in the workspace; this which would not only boost their knowledge but also increase their level of employability.

On the side of the employers, it’s basically employer acquisition: employers are sceptical of employing potential interns because traditionally, they assume interns are not qualified and have no experience.

In order to solve this, we are putting a lot of effort into making the interns employable and valuable in the labour market in conjunction with consumer education (for the employers) to sell the value proposition recruiting from our platform.

How do you envision Placements will impact on Nigeria’s workforce in the long-run?

As an impact venture, we measure success by:  1. the number of job opportunities we are able to connect African youths to through internship programs, 2. the number of talents we are able to provide, 3. the number of reproduction/referral our matching is able to generate: the Interns and employers we connect together share our platform with their networks which gives room for a funnel into our database.

However, equipping youths with employability skills and internship opportunities would not only reduce the level of unemployment in Nigeria but also contribute to the growth and development of the nation which contributes to the actualization of some of the global goals, most importantly the sustainable development goal 8: decent work and economic growth.