It is ironic that the workers who build lavish houses and buildings but get themselves a shanty house to live in. No matter how many MNCs create employment opportunities in India, finding both jobs and affordable housing for migrant labourers is yet a dream. According to the estimates of the World Economic Forum, there are approximately 139 million domestic migrant labourers in India that migrate from rural to urban cities such as Delhi or Mumbai in search of economic opportunities. This migration is what paves the need for housing requirements. The imposition of covid-induced lockdowns has worsened the crisis as loss of jobs forced migrant labourers to leave for their natives due to their inability to pay rent for rooms.
Generally, an Indian rural dweller makes migration decisions by relying on the opinions of a friend, brother, or relative living in an urban area who can provide them with job referrals or an initial place to stay. Besides, acquaintances, the decision to migrate is influenced by the assurance shown by the labour contractor or job brokers. Even if a seasonal migrant worker manages to secure a stable job, the hurdle of finding habitable affordable housing in urban areas remains unresolved. Several middlemen take undue advantage of this gap by charging exorbitantly high rentals that leave low-income migrants with no choice but to bow down. The condition of houses is unlivable due to which sometimes they are forced to leave jobs midway which further creates problems for the employers.
Realising this market to be highly fragmented and disorganised, Rushil and Jacob developed a platform Bandhu to solve the plaguing issues to find jobs and affordable housing for low-income migrants.
What is Bandhu and What does it Intend to Solve?
Bandhu, founded in 2020, is an employment platform developed using data science, artificial intelligence, and computer science that aims to solve the woes of jobs and affordable housing for low-income migrant workers. It is the brainchild of Rushil Palavajjhala and Jacob Kohn both MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) graduates, who developed this platform with the support of the institute’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Rushil observed how the middlemen or job brokers did not serve migrant workers well. Their verbal promises at times could not assure jobs that left the workers helpless in a new city. Another challenge, Rushil found was the nature of jobs that offered no security and the struggle of urban employers to find employers with the required skill set.
Therefore, a supply and demand of workers and jobs were visible but there was no such platform to make it organised. The app ‘Bandhu’ bridged the gap between job seekers and employers through the app.
According to CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy), India lost a total of 2.25 crore jobs out of which the daily wage workers owned a lion’s share of 1.72 crores.
How does the Bandhu App work?
Bandhu works in two languages English and Hindi. After downloading the app the worker can create a profile with which they can search jobs matching their skillset in the region of interest. With each job location, the worker can also see available housing options. The app also provides a breakup of their monthly expenses, which helps workers to understand the savings they can make to send home back money. It eases the hiring of an employer to a great extent as the app displays a list of workers with their wage expectations and skills.
Under their rating system, the worker and employers can review each other to build their digital resumes by defining skills such as work quality, timeliness, and communication under a five-star rating scale. Job brokers are also awarded points for recruiting and retaining workers. The ratings provide transparency in information to the worker to understand whether this employer is good or not. The same goes for the employer to understand which worker to pick.
Which Parts of India is Bandhu Available?
Bandhu is currently accessible for users in western India.
How is Bandhu app making itself accessible to migrant workers and employers?
In the initial phase of development, the Bandhu app ran a demo with its front-end prototype with 100 workers and 20 employers, who after usage were satisfied. In the coming months, the app plans to work closely from the employer’s side working closely with local NGOs who are already working in this sector. Knowing that the workers use low-end Android phones, their tech stack consists of Java + Kotlin with PHP as a backend.
What lies ahead for the employment apps for low-income migrant workers?
In such grim times of unemployment induced by the pandemic, such job provider platforms are a blessing. According to CMIE (Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy), India lost a total of 2.25 crore jobs out of which the daily wage workers owned a lion’s share of 1.72 crores.
Such apps tend to ease the hiring for employers in real estate, or in metal fabrication industries as they struggle retaining workers. Workers on the other hand will get jobs with the desired wage amount. Also, amid covid relaxations taking place, there will be an uptick in hiring intent for SMEs which will create ample job opportunities for the grey collar workers.