Dealflow | September 21, 2021

Three workforce tech ventures score funding to connect India’s blue collar workers with jobs

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, September 21 – Workforce tech ventures aimed at blue-collar workers are leveraging mobile technology to address a supply-demand imbalance in India’s labor force. Apna, BetterPlace and Vahan, which connect blue collar and gig workers to available work opportunities, each scored investor capital in the past week.

India has roughly 300 million blue collar and gig workers; some estimates go as high as 450 million. Workers are leaving the agriculture sector in search of new opportunities. Labor in the growing e-commerce, delivery and logistics sectors is in high demand. The surge in mobile phone penetration means people have access to apps and other services connecting workers to jobs.

Mumbai-based Apna helps workers in 28 cities in India find jobs with companies like food delivery giant Zomato, Burger King and edtech venture BYJU, as well as specialty gigs like carpentry and painting. It secured $100 million in a round led by Tiger Global Management that valued the company at $1.1 billion.

Founder Nirmit Parikh started the company provide job searching and skill development opportunities for non-white-collar workers, which he said were overlooked by most workforce tech. “I worked as a plumber, electrician, barkeep, and at every other job for several months before I even began working on solving it using technology,” he said

Pandemic shift

Bangalore-based Vahan raised $8 million for its blue-collar recruitment platform that includes an AI-bot on Whatsapp. It says it places more than 7,000 workers per month, buoyed by the pandemic which “played a key role in shaping the blue-collar job market” and has “given a boost to the digitisation of recruitment and training processes,” according to founder Madhav Krishna.

Placement and upskilling

BetterPlace, also in Bangalore, raised $24 million for its blue-collar and gig worker recruitment and onboarding platform for companies. It recently launched an app that allows workers to search for jobs, and also offers financial planning and identifies ways for workers to upskill.

Jungle Ventures, CX Partners, CDC Group and Capria Ventures backed the Series C round.