Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

Urban poverty in India is high—80 million people, over 25% of the urban population, live below the poverty line—not because there are no jobs, but because, as economist Anirudh Krishna has observed, informal workers lack connections to better jobs. Without Internet or computer access, informal workers, such as housekeepers, drivers, and clerks, often find jobs through people they know, just as employers look to their social network to find informal workers. expands the reach of both employers and job seekers, in many ways mimicking the social networks through which Indians customarily find and fill jobs. Job seekers register via mobile phone using SMS texts or USSD (a menu-driven mobile application), providing information such as preferred salary, location, languages, and skills. For the equivalent of two cents a day, they receive daily SMS alerts about jobs in their neighborhood. Their profiles are added to the Babajob Web site, and for a fee, employers can filter and sort candidates as well as post jobs. Information is available in six languages, including Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. For nonliterate users, a text-free version of is in development featuring simple icons to guide users through the site as well as speech-to-text services. An automated voice interface available in three languages will also enable nonliterate users to navigate relevant jobs and apply for them by leaving messages with employers. Piloted in Bangalore, has reached almost 150,000 users, posting over half a million jobs and sending two million job alerts every month, with plans to expand the site to the rest of India.

Designers: Sean Olin Blagsvedt and Aditya Dipankar, Services. Bangalore, India, 2007–present


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