Google recently launched TaskMate in Kenya, a crowdsourcing tool that allows users to use their cellphones to complete jobs and earn money, tapping into the booming gig economy. After a year of testing in the East African country, the IT giant says it has pushed out the beta version and is getting ready to roll it out to other countries on the continent.
Users of the TaskMate mobile app complete skilled and unskilled activities for businesses, such as translation or photography, that have been approved by Google for posting on the platform.
TaskMate is the latest in a long line of Google apps and services that allow individuals to pay for services they do. They include a rewards app that pays consumers for taking surveys and local services ads that connect businesses with clients in their area for a fee.
“We have launched TaskMate, and it’s the first time we have opened it in Africa and across the world,” said TaskMate product manager, Mike Knapp.
The test began late last year in Kenya, and users were allowed to complete a variety of activities, including snapping images of flora for a Penn State University research project. The app’s gigs are divided into two categories: sitting and field work.
“We went to a pilot phase where we had 1,000 people use the app, and they gave very positive feedback. And so now we’ve moved to the beta phase. And we’re really experimenting at a bigger level at this point,” said Knapp.
“And we’re looking for businesses and startups to come and experiment with us on the platform, to see how this can help them solve the difficult problems that they’re working on,” he said.
Businesses who publish projects on the site have the option of making them open to a limited number of people or inviting specific individuals to complete them. TaskMate users in Kenya can withdraw their earnings through Safaricom’s M-Pesa mobile money payment channel.
The launch coincided with Google’s announcement that it had awarded $10 million in loans to help small businesses in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa recover from the COVID pandemic-related economic downturn. The funds are being disbursed by Google through Kiva, a nonprofit lending organization based in San Francisco. The money is part of a $1 billion investment in Africa that the company announced a fortnight ago.
Google’s investment includes a subsea cable that will connect Africa and Europe via South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, and St Helena. They claim that as the digital economy grows, it would provide faster internet and create around 1.7 million employment in Nigeria and South Africa by 2025.
The app is available on Google Play Store.