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Upwork Launches Full-Time Hiring to Connect Job Seekers and Client Companies

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Upwork, a popular freelance marketplace, is rolling out a new full-time hiring option for its clients and job seekers.

The company’s goal is to provide a more comprehensive and robust approach to the job search process, opening up the platform to new talent sources and offering more flexibility to workers and employers alike, Investors King understands.

The new model offers a range of benefits to both parties. Employers can use the platform to find, vet, and hire workers from over 180 countries, using Upwork’s tools for payroll, compliance, and contract management. This means that businesses of all sizes can now access these features, not just the larger enterprise clients who were previously able to use them.

For job seekers, the new system offers the opportunity to try out a job as a contract-to-hire before committing to full-time employment. This provides greater flexibility for people who are exploring new career opportunities and allows them to get a feel for a role before committing to it on a permanent basis.

The move is a significant change for Upwork, which has always been known as a platform for freelancers and independent contractors. However, CEO Hayden Brown believes that the new approach will help the company to compete with more traditional job search platforms, such as LinkedIn.

The new model has been in testing for some time, and over 2 million users have already expressed an interest in contract-to-hire opportunities. The company declined to provide exact figures for the number of users currently on the platform but did confirm that it runs into the millions.

The move comes at a crucial time for Upwork, which has seen its stock price decline by over 40% since its public debut in 2018. However, the company has seen a 16% rise in its value so far this year, indicating that the market is responding positively to its new approach.

The introduction of full-time hiring could be a game-changer for Upwork, offering greater opportunities for both employers and job seekers and driving growth for the platform in the years to come.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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African Healthtech Shows Resilience with Mere 2% Decline in Funding While Broader Tech Ecosystem Plunges in 2023

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Healthcare consulting firm Salient Advisory has launched its latest Intelligence Report, presenting findings on funding activity, covering grant, equity, and debt investments for African healthtech startups in 2023.

Titled “2023 RoundUp: Investments in African HealthTech”, the report provides analysis on funding trends in African healthtech ecosystems.

It provides insights for key stakeholders across governments, investors, donors and global health institutions, and is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

While investments in African startups plummeted last year, mirroring global trends, healthtech showed resilience, experiencing only a 2% dip compared to a staggering 39% decline in the broader ecosystem.

The number of deals in African healthtech rose by 17% year-over-year (YoY) to 145, with total funding of $167 million and an average ticket size of $1.1 million. In total, 114 innovators received funding in 2023, with 23 receiving multiple investments in the year.

The number of deals for women-led companies remained relatively steady (26 in 2022 vs. 33 in 2023), however, the amount of funding saw a dramatic shift as the gender gaps significantly narrowed: women-led companies secured $52 million in funding –31% of all investments in 2023. This represents a 2000% YoY increase compared to the $2 million (1.4%) they received in 2022.

Online pharmacy solutions attracted the majority of investor capital, capturing 38% ($63 million) of all funding raised, driven by Series B funding rounds by Kenya’s Kasha ($21 million) and MyDAWA ($20 million), alongside Egypt’s Yodawy ($16 million).

Electronic medical records solutions were the second-best funded category, driven by Helium Health’s $30 million Series B funding round.

Equity investments accounted for 91% of total funding with an average deal size of $3.2 million. This significantly outpaced grants, which only contributed 7% of capital with an average ticket size of $168,000.

However, grants continue to play a crucial role in enabling access to early-stage funding for innovators to test and validate their business models. Debt funding remains rare as only one debt-based investment was tracked in 2023.

While still rare, merger and acquisition activity doubled in the past year with four key transactions. The prospect of future funding also appears strong as, despite broader economic headwinds which suggest a slowdown in funding for technology startups, over $600 million in new funding was announced by investors with an interest in African health systems.

Speaking on the launch of the report, Yomi Kazeem, Engagement Manager at Salient Advisory, commented:

“The resilience of African healthtech innovations shines through in the findings of this report. Amid difficult headwinds, these innovations continue to demonstrate commercially viable models that have the potential to improve access to healthcare and deliver impact at scale. The increased funding for women founders is a high point and, in coming years, investors must prioritise sustaining strategies that ensure equitable funding across founders.

Dr. Analía Porrás, Deputy Director, Global Health Agencies and Funds, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also commented: “African healthtech has proven resilient over the past year, with innovators receiving investments to test, validate and scale solutions that have the potential to transform health systems across the continent. We are pleased to be playing a role by providing innovators with risk-tolerant capital through the Investing in Innovation program and hope to see the current resilience translate into increased confidence and funding from investors and donors.”

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Nigeria Loses Startup Investment Crown to Kenya as Foreign Investments Plunge by 65.83%

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Nigeria has lost its coveted crown as the top destination for startup investments to Kenya, according to the latest report ‘Africa: The Big Deal’.

Foreign investments in Nigerian startups declined by 65.83% year-on-year from $1.2 billion in 2022 to $410 million in 2023.

During the same period, Kenya raised $800 million to emerge top destination for investments in Africa while Nigeria dropped to the fourth position in terms of total startup investments.

However, the Big Four African nations, including Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria, continued to dominate the startup funding scene in 2023 and attracted 87% of the total foreign investments on the continent.

The report highlights Nigeria’s pivotal role in this shift, noting that while the country still boasted the highest number of startups raising $100,000 or more (146, constituting 29% of the continent), the total funding amount experienced a drastic threefold decrease year-on-year.

The research firm observed that “Nigeria is the country where the most dramatic change happened in 2023.”

Despite maintaining a high number of startups, the total funding for Nigerian startups plummeted to $410 million, compared to $1.2 billion in 2022 and $1.7 billion in 2021.

Consequently, Nigeria’s share of Western African funding declined to 68%, down from 85% in 2021 and 77% in 2022.

This decline in startup investments emphasizes the changing dynamics of Africa’s tech ecosystem with Kenya emerging as a formidable player in the startup funding arena.

As Nigeria grapples with this setback, stakeholders are left pondering the reasons behind this significant shift and exploring avenues to revitalize the country’s startup investment landscape.

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Bolt Expels Over 5,000 Drivers in Kenya to Enhance Safety Measures

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Estonian ride-hailing giant Bolt has taken decisive action in Kenya by removing more than 5,000 drivers from its platform over the past six months.

This move comes as part of Bolt’s commitment to bolstering safety and ensuring compliance among its driver partners.

The company, operating in over 15 towns and cities in Kenya, has earmarked KES 20 million ($130,000) for investments in safety-related practices.

The decision to expel drivers follows recent safety concerns raised by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).

Bolt faced scrutiny and was asked to outline its strategy for addressing safety issues, including instances of physical assault on passengers and unauthorized sale of driver accounts.

The NTSA’s directive was a prerequisite for Bolt’s annual license renewal.

Linda Ndungu, Bolt Kenya’s Country Manager, emphasized the company’s commitment to user trust and safety.

Ndungu stated, “We understand the trust our users place in us, and we are taking proactive steps to ensure their well-being during every ride.”

To enhance safety measures, Bolt is implementing internal measures such as random driver selfie checks, providing training for both riders and drivers, and enforcing strict compliance with swift consequences for violations.

Bolt has also introduced improved reporting tools to facilitate the reporting of safety concerns.

Bolt’s move is a response to recent driver dissatisfaction, attributed in part to commission rates exceeding the government’s recommended 18%, including booking fees.

The company aims to address these challenges and reinforce its commitment to safety and compliance within its platform.

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