New technology changes the working day, offering a strategy for more jobs in the Middle East

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This blog post originally appeared in the World Bank’s Voices & Views: Middle East & North Africa on 3/28/14.  The original post can be seen here: http://blogs.worldbank.org/arabvoices/new-technology-changes-the-working-day-mena

It’s no secret that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has the highest youth unemployment rate in the entire world: nearly 30% according to the International Labour Organization. Over one in four young people have no viable means for economic prosperity, and sadly education is no guarantor of a job. Despite these bleak statistics, a recent survey commissioned by Qatar’s telecom giant, Orredoo, suggests that young people still have hope of a great future, fueled in large part by the innovations of the 21st century. The challenge is to innovate technology and alter our way of thinking about work to motivate MENA’s youth.

Technology Enabling Prosperity

This is a pivotal moment, one of tremendous historical and technological change, as well as overwhelming challenges for the region. The hope technology brings, however, is a potential game changer, both economically and for regional stability overall. The World Bank recently published a study highlighting the economic opportunities of accelerating high-speed internet access. The authors of this study note this region would look significantly different if more women and young people had access to high-speed internet. For while technology is only a means to a better life, and not an end in itself, using it effectively to further economic prosperity and job creation is critical.

What MENA’s Youth Want

A new report, “New Horizons: Young, Arab and Connected,” commissioned by Ooredoo, surveyed more than 10,500 young adults in 17 countries across the region, and found that 9 out of 10 young MENA citizens believed that Internet access could help them fulfill their hopes for a job. This study also found that for young people lucky enough to have jobs, 45% of them are not doing what they would like to do. While it might be easy to dismiss this, when considering the unemployment statistics, motivating youth effectively to contribute to the economic good of the region is important in gaining the most out of this region’s best assets: its young people full of hope and promise.

Redesigning Work: Beyond the Traditional 9-5

Perhaps it’s time this region takes a hard look at the way we work and redesign a path moving forward that takes into account both the emerging technologies and the way this current generation–which accounts for approximately one third of MENA’s population of about 340 million–views the world. A report by Aruba Networks on “Gen Mobile” found that half of the survey’s participants of youth aged between 18 and 35, work most efficiently outside of the traditional 9am-5pm working hours, and also want more flexible work. Harvard Business Review’s blog also discusses this emerging trend: the 20th century work schedule was not the first work schedule, nor will it be the last.

An Emerging Trend: Independent Work

Throughout the world, working independently and the concept of freelance work has become much more popular: it is estimated that within the next six years 40% of Americans will work independently. Deloitte recently conducted a survey of Millennials, a term used to refer to people born from the early 1980s to around the 2000s, which found that 70% of Millennials want to work independently. A new way of work that taps into the technology this generation has grown up with, and gives a sense of autonomy, which behavioral economists deem important, could give this generation in the MENA region a better sense of self-determination and overall wellbeing. Although there is currently an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of independent work, research suggest that when people are given autonomy, health and wellbeing improve.1

Although the idea of independent work is still a relatively new concept for the modern Middle East, a peer-to-peer economy is as old as the Silk Road: merchants directly exchanging goods and services. Today’s roads are now virtual, driven in large part by the Internet. In a world where technology continues to change almost every aspect of our lives, it is now contributing towards a more hopeful future for this region’s youth.  The challenge is to re-imagine and rewire ourselves for 21st century work not based upon an outdated construct from a past era, but rather one that taps into what some economists recognize as basic human motivation.

1 Valery Chirkov, Richard M. Ryan, Youngmee Kim, and Ulas Kaplan, “Differentiating Autonomy from Individualism and Independence: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Internalization of Cultural Orientations and Well-Being,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84 ( January 2003); Joe Devine, Laura Camfield, and Ian Gough, “Autonomy or Dependence—or Both?: Perspectives from Bangladesh,” Journal of Happiness Studies 9, no. 1 ( January 2008). 

Announcing the Launch of Nabbesh’s Payment Services

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A message from Nabbesh Founders to all our Friends & Owls.

Nabbesh is very proud to announce the launch of our new payment services, bringing us one step closer to providing our community of nearly 30,000 freelancers all the tools you need to work your way — and get paid!  At Nabbesh, our vision is to be the preeminent platform for every independent worker and freelancer in the MENA region, providing you with a simple, easy to use, one-stop platform, to bring you more work opportunities and financial prosperity.

Our Vision: To connect every freelancer in the MENA region with a job!

When we started Nabbesh, we began with only a vision and the determination to make that vision a reality by improving the way MENA’s men, women, and youth work.  Our goal is to create a virtual marketplace for people looking to break out of the confines of outdated work models.  Technology has already revolutionized the ways we connect with friends, search for music, and now the way we search for, find, and get paid for project-based work!

One of our community members, Tariq Mehmood, was able to showcase his work to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, all because of Nabbesh.  Nabbesh is truly a marketplace that provides unlimited exposure and merit based opportunities for our community, no matter where they live.

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Nabbesh also prides itself on listening and quickly adapting to the needs of our highly-skilled community.  In a recent study, Nabbesh found that 30% of our freelancers have had a client who never paid them!  For us, that number was too high, and we personally know the negative impact that not getting paid can have on your daily lives.  So we worked hard to provide a solution to this problem!

 Getting Paid Just Got Easier

We know that there are risks associated with working for someone across borders, or online, and we also know that not everyone can commute to an office or work in more traditional ways.  But we see the potential in you, and we have harnessed technology to make getting paid securely online simple. Our new payment system now allows you to send a work proposal, a deposit request or an invoice, while providing an escrow service, giving you more peace of mind.

What does this mean exactly?  It means that people like Ameera in Jordan can work for people like Sami in Dubai, negotiate a work proposal on Nabbesh, and Ameera can actually see the deposit that Sami makes online through Nabbesh before she even begins her work.  And with our credit card payment options and our options to receive payments through bank transfer, we have improved the way you hire, pay, and receive money for your work.  No bank account?  No problem!  Nabbesh also offers simple payments through money transfer services (i.e., Western Union).  We are taking the headache out of freelancing in this region.

Benefits of Nabbesh’s New Services:

-No need for paperwork. Send proposals, deposit requests & invoices via Nabbesh

-Transparency & convenience through secure online payments

-Freelancers can receive payments via bank or money transfer services (i.e., Western Union)

-Track project history, agreements, milestone changes, all in one place on Nabbesh

-A two way rating system which helps you build a reputation and improve your visibility

We hope you like the new and improved Nabbesh!  Work your way and try it today!

Loulou Khazen Baz & Rima Al Sheikh

Fast-growing Startup Nabbesh.com Chooses Crowdinvesting for Expansion Capital

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Eureeca Global Crowdinvesting Platform facilitates equity investment opportunity for Middle East’s first virtual skills marketplace

Dubai (UAE):.  Nabbesh, the Middle East’s first virtual skills marketplace launched its quest for capital on Eureeca, the first global crowdinvesting platform for small & medium businesses to source funding from the crowd.

As a dynamic online business in the Middle East, Nabbesh has chosen Eureeca to raise funds for its fast-growing venture for expansion and continued growth

eureeca.com, which operates as a marketplace to bring together businesses looking for funding and crowd investors seeking new investment prospects, provides a platform to facilitate a funding round for Nabbesh, with an entry level for interested investors starting as low as $100.

To date, Nabbesh has already proven great success with over 17,000 members and over 1,300 freelance and project based jobs posted on the site. Already identified as a high potential business when it won the inaugural Middle East startup reality TV show, ‘The Entrepreneur’ earlier in the year, Nabbesh brings together skills and opportunities in a simple, effective platform that goes beyond the traditional employment models. Using Nabbesh, people across the MENA region can offer their skills (whether graphic design, accounting, cake-baking or tutoring) and services to people or businesses needing those skills. For businesses, Nabbesh means access to an on-demand regional talent pool, ability to substantially save on overheads and the freedom to scale based on market demand.

The company is expected to reach its funding target on Eureeca in record time.  Within minutes of going live today, the campaign already garnered $15,000 of investment.

Loulou Khazen Baz, CEO and Founder of Nabbesh said: “Nabbesh is in the business of disrupting the way people find jobs and crowdinvesting is disrupting the way businesses find funding so it was a natural fit for us to raise funds on eureeca.com. Our platform is an innovative business that includes the building of a community, so what better way to seek capital for our fast-growing venture than through the community or crowd of potential investors we will have access to through Eureeca. ”

As with all businesses listing their proposals on Eureeca, Nabbesh will be open to funding for a 90-day period.  Find out more at the link here

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