Isahit: crowdsourcing for socially responsible outsourcing

In an era of remote working and lean organisations, isahit is leveraging digital transformation to help women in French- and English-speaking Africa acquire digital skills via its task outsourcing platform. Isabelle Mashola, co-founder of the startup, talks about this step forward in socially responsible subcontracting and digital inclusion for women.

A crowdsourcing initiative

Isahit is an online platform for outsourcing digital tasks. It is built around the crowdsourcing principle: a large number of independent workers connect to the site and put themselves forward to perform tasks that reflect their skill sets and preferences. “After heading the IT divisions of several major international corporations, I co-founded isahit in June 2016 because I was convinced that digital skills are essential for empowering Africa’s women,” explained Isabelle Mashola.

Client businesses (banks, catering groups, homeware retailers, etc.) split certain digital projects into micro-tasks that can be performed by the women working for isahit, known as Hitters (Human Intelligent Task: a task that can only be achieved by human intelligence.) “Writing, curating, categorising and moderating content, image clipping, database creation, etc., there’s a huge variety of tasks. A lot of what we do involves using human input to guide and improve solutions based on artificial intelligence.” Such as? Enriching deep-learning algorithms by integrating large volumes of visual or audio content in different languages or finishing tasks that AI is unable to fully manage, such as reading complex invoices.

The startup’s Hitters have already completed over 13 million micro-tasks and 500 digital projects. Its clients benefit from agile responses (no volume restrictions, seven days a week), fast turnaround times and an innovative solution at a competitive price. They are also contributing to a socially responsible project that aligns with their own corporate social responsibility policies.

Helping women achieve their life goals

“We’re now operating in 17 African countries, with 1,000 women connected to the digital world through their work. The extra money they earn from isahit helps them achieve their life goals, which include continuing or returning to their studies, growing their business, or becoming an entrepreneur,” said Isabelle Mashola. The platform also helps them acquire actionable digital skills they can use in their daily lives or to forge their careers (online monitoring, SEO, CRM, spreadsheets, etc.). And 5% of revenues generated by the platform are reinvested in a special programme to provide women starting out on isahit with equipment, free training or hours of internet connection.

“Our goal for the years ahead? Provide work to 10,000 people in French- and English-speaking Africa while also opening up the platform to people in Asia and Latin America,” summed up Isabelle Mashola.