Sure, the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In has launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of D.C.’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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When Ronnie Kwesi was looking for a job in Ghana, he had a hard time finding well-paying work in his field. He ended up moving to the United States to find what he was looking for, but never forgot where he came from. Hoping to help other job seekers on the African continent find work without leaving home, Kwesi and co-founders Steph Nachemja-Bunton and Max Farago started Meaningful Gigs, a platform that connects designers in Africa with remote jobs at companies across the globe.
D.C.-based Meaningful Gigs began before the pandemic, but it’s one of many companies primed for the remote revolution. With remote work becoming more common, many companies are looking to previously untapped markets. According to Meaningful Gigs, the African continent is one of those untapped resources it hopes to make more visible to global companies, especially considering the barriers many workers living in Africa face when trying to find work at companies abroad.
Kwesi said one of those major barriers in Africa is access, something he says his company is “the bridge addressing that issue.”
“Meaningful Gigs ensures equity by asking the designers what they want to get paid. ... So the designers dictate how much their services are worth, and we also make sure that designers are at least receiving fair market rates for designers in the U.S.”
Meaningful Gigs vets thousands of applicants for its network of designers living in Africa, including UX, UI, product, graphic, game, motion, web and brand designers. Once approved, these designers set their own ideal compensation before being connected with global companies looking for new, diverse talent. Within the network, members have access to various upskilling resources, allowing them to continue building their expertise. The company’s goal is to create 100,000 full-time, part-time and freelance jobs for designers in Africa by 2028.
“Meaningful Gigs ensures equity by asking the designers what they want to get paid. ... So the designers dictate how much their services are worth, and we also make sure that designers are at least receiving fair market rates for designers in the U.S.,” Kwesi told Built In in an email. “This means that they typically get three to four times what they would earn locally and some designers are even receiving seven to eight times [those rates].”
When it comes to future growth, Kwesi told Built In his team is mostly focused on automation of its services. Meaningful Gigs is currently working on a product to automatically match designers with work opportunities, something that at the moment is mostly done by hand. Some of that growth will be thanks to the company’s recent $6 million seed funding round.
Meaningful Gigs is also offering up gigs of its own. Currently, the company is hiring engineers, account executives, a controller and a creative operations lead.