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Partner: MercyCropsThe microwork landscape assessment is a key component of the broader economic resilience initiative by Mercy Corps. Spindle Design was commissioned to do a landscape assessment of the Microwork landscape in Kenya to inform both the training, the selection of participants, and the pilot.The study seeks to assess the microwork landscape in Kenya, outlining the ecosystem actors, challenges vulnerable youth face when venturing into microwork, and evaluating existing training models to inform the program design of the Celo microwork pilot.
● Understand and map out stakeholders and their interactions in the microwork ecosystem in Kenya● Develop micro worker profiles outlining skill level, access to the internet and smartphones, aspirations and expected income and discuss opportunities and challenges that microworkers and youth venturing into online work experience
● Provide recommendations on what success factors a program like the Mercy Corps Microwork Program should have to implement an inclusive microwork training and placement pilot.● Assess payment pathways that microwork implementers use on their microwork platforms
We used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to understand the lives of existing and aspiring microworkers’ needs, challenges, and desires concerning online work.
Focus group discussion
We conducted multiple focus group discussions with 4-5 aspiring and existing microworkers each. We supplemented the discussions with participatory activities to understand needs, preferences, and expectations better.
1-1 Contextual interviews
We also surveyed and individually interviewed aspiring and existing microworkers. We carefully observed and documented their attitudes and behaviors. We sought to understand the drivers and the barriers they encountered while engaging in microwork. We profiled their digital skills level, access to the internet and smartphones, their aspirations and expected income, and the effectiveness of microwork training they have received.
Key stakeholder interviews
We interviewed stakeholders who included online work trainers, work suppliers, owners of platforms, implementers of impact-focused programs, and government stakeholders. We sought to understand how they engage microworkers through recruiting, training, and deploying to microwork projects and how they paid them. We also profiled policies, success factors, gaps, and the impact of microwork programs.
HCD Research and landscape analysis
In Kenya, only 17% of the working population is formally employed, and those between the ages of 15-34 account for 84% of the unemployed population. The digital economy presents a significant opportunity for Kenya’s unemployed youth to engage in meaningful work, and micro work, in particular, presents a uniqueopportunity for vulnerable, unskilled youth to engage in income-generating activity utilizing their existing mobiledevices.While a small community of Kenyan workers is engaging in microwork, barriers to acceptance and inclusion have prevented a stronger adoption.
Lessons learntAccording to the study, whereas education is essential, successful micro workers need the drive and discipline to focus on their assignments. Their educational background was not a significant factor in determining success.
Convenience, speed, and trust were key issues for microworkers concerning payments. The most preferred payment mode for Kenyan microworkers is PayPal due to the option of cashing out using MPESA.
The Kenyan Microwork landscape has many active participants - the government, work platforms, payment gateways, intermediaries, trainers, program implementers, and funders.
We also found that effective training is informal and formal but highly practical and project or work-based through stakeholder or self-supported models. Some form of support or mentorship follows this. Effective training should therefore be practical, experiential, and based on actual work to be done.
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