Skillbee, an India-based super app launched in the UAE amidst the Covid-19 pandemic to help migrant workers who had lost their jobs get back on their feet, has raised $3.2M in the seed funding round led by Good Capital and Vibe Capital.
Good Capital is an early-stage venture investment firm with a number of other investments in companies facing Tier-2 India users, including Meesho and Simsim. US-based Vibe Capital is the latest fund floated by Teachable CEO Ankur Nagpal.
This round of funding also saw participation from investors in the Middle East (Access Bridge Ventures and Wamda Capital).
Several prominent founders and operators who also participated in this round through Bharat Founders Fund include Treebo’s Rahul Chaudhary, Toppr’s Zishaan Hayath, Cars24’s Vikram Chopra, NoBroker’s Saurabh Garg, and CoCubes’ Harpreet Singh Grover.
“The participation of such impeccable investors and founder operators in this round of funding and their faith in our mission and vision goes on to show how important the human capital issue is. We’re grateful to our investors that they are entrusting us to offer solutions and bring a massive positive change in the lives of migrant workers,” Gautham Vinjamuri, a co-founder of Skillbee, said.
Founded by Gautham Vinjamuri and Ujjawal Chauhan in mid-2020, Skillbee connects international migrant workers to job opportunities and a thriving career community. In just 12 months since its launch, Skillbee has become the preferred app for a large number of migrant workers in the UAE. The platform has over 500,000 migrant workers as registered users and over 20,000 companies have signed up to the app to hire workers from 16+ nations, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Philippines, and African countries.
Skillbee’s founders had previously worked with frontline Indian migrant workers in Singapore, where they saw many of the problems first-hand and the life-changing positive impact an international job could have on the trajectory of the life of an individual and their family back home.
Rohan Malhotra, Managing Partner at Good Capital, said, “India has one of the largest human capital pools and demographic dividends in the world, yet we’ve not been able to provide a substantial portion of the population with adequate opportunities. The borders between countries are shrinking, and we believe Skillbee will be the go-to platform that bridges jobs in developed countries and workers in developing nations.”
Over 2,000 new workers now sign up daily on Skillbee, and it is the Top Android app in its category, with a 20% growth MoM.
With the latest round of funding, Skillbee’s founders aim to further strengthen the super app’s presence among migrant workers and double the number of companies hiring through it. Over the next 12 months, they also intend to enhance the bouquet of services the app offers. “Skillbee entered this massive industry with the mission to address these specific pain points of migrant workers. Going beyond the next aspirational, international job, Skillbee will soon offer tailor-made services like credit and insurance,” said Ujjawal Chauhan.
Issa Aghabi from Access Bridge Ventures, a Middle East-based fund that is known for investing in disruptive marketplaces and technologies, said, “Matching talent and right employers in an ethical manner has always been a challenge in the region. Skillbee is uniquely solving an important emerging market problem. The way of matchmaking human capital with appropriate employers and also building the ability to validate credentials, upskill and manage these workers through a super app is incredibly exciting. We are excited to partner with the team as the first MENA investor and support their growth in the region.”
According to a BCG report, the workforce shortage crisis in developed countries poses a $10 Trillion risk. And the only viable solution to keep these economies in good shape is to hire international migrant workers. For example, 90% of the UAE’s workforce comprises international migrant workers. Subsequently, these migrant workers are not just important in helping build the infrastructure and services industry of developed countries, but also in supporting their home countries. In 2020, remittances to India from migrant workers abroad amounted to $83BN, while in Pakistan it was about $26BN.
In spite of the pivotal role they play, Indians, Bangladeshis, and Pakistanis working in Singapore, Dubai, and the UK as nurses, drivers, cleaners, electricians, and carpenters, remain one of the most vulnerable and marginalized sections of the workforce. They often get defrauded in pursuit of these international jobs and have no recourse to redressal or justice. And in spite of supporting their home countries economically, most of these workers don’t have access to traditional banking and have to send money in cash. Their unique needs for credit and insurance also remain unmet, presenting a huge untapped opportunity.
While Skillbee’s growth and popularity amongst international migrant workers have been driven by word-of-mouth recommendation, top UAE companies like Choithrams, Transguard, Al Khoory Hotels, and Dry Docks World have embraced Skillbee as their preferred choice for hiring migrant workers due to its success rate.
Jotsina Virwani, Choithram’s Regional HR Manager – GCC, summarises Skillbee’s impact by saying, “Skillbee has been instrumental in delivering the appropriate talent that our organization seeks. Their specialty of providing skilled workers has assisted us in hiring the right talent at the right time.”