Speakers: Mohammad Al-Kilany

Mohammed Al-Kilany is using mobile-phone technology to connect young graduates with employers and to help international relief organizations reach rural communities more effectively. Mohammed co-founded the social enterprise Souktel to address the inherent inequalities within the labor market, where opportunities are often handed to the privileged and well-connected while the majority of young people struggle to even get information about local jobs.

Faced with the staggering reality that more than one third of Palestinian youth are unemployed and have few resources at their disposal, Mohammed saw an opportunity to use mobile phones as a cheap, accessible tool for finding work. With his innovative JobMatch technology, job seekers can search for and apply to job postings via SMS messaging on any basic mobile phone, without the need for Internet access or sophisticated smartphones. Companies can upload job postings and search for candidates using the same service. Both job seekers and employers pay a nominal fee for using the service, which covers most of Souktel’s operating costs; surplus revenue is allocated toward expanding into new markets in the Middle East and North Africa.

In each of its partnerships, Souktel’s model for expansion is based on a multi-stakeholder cooperative approach, where the organization collaborates with national mobile-phone networks, local universities, leading employers, and government ministries in new countries of operation.

Mohammad has been instrumental in Souktel’s growth. Souktel has recently expanded its market to include eastern Africa and Iraq, and aims to launch in Egypt and Jordan, where it expects to reach 16,500 new users. The venture has already recruited over 150 Middle East employers into its hiring community. Going forward, Mohammed is looking to expand the technology to reach more marginalized job seekers, such as those who are low-skilled or lack a university degree, in order to equalize employment opportunities across all social sectors.

Mohammed also seeks to grow Souktel’s secondary service, the phone-based Aidlinktool with which international-aid agencies can send information to communities in times of crisis.