South Africa lacks the technical skills that fintech companies need to develop new solutions, ensure ongoing innovation and expand their businesses. One of SA’s fastest-growing fintech companies, iKhokha, situated in Umhlanga, Durban is battling to attract talent to support its massive growth. It is ironic that in South Africa, with a 29% rate of unemployment, iKhokha would like to fill more than 50 positions in the next year, and it is trying do so with great difficulty. The 2019 State of South Africa’s Software Developers Nation report compiled by tech talent marketplace, OfferZen, confirms South African senior software developers working in the fintech and cloud services sectors are the mostly highly paid developers, earning an average of R65 000 to R70 000 per month.
SA’s exploding tech businesses constrained by digital skills gap
“Disruptive digital and e-commerce businesses, from scale-ups through to big giants like Amazon or Google, are growing at such unprecedented rates that the gap between the staff they need and the talent available in the marketplace is widening. This is particularly true in South Africa,” says Matt Putman, CEO of iKhokha, one of SA’s fastest-growing fintech companies after returning from Paris where he attended Unleash World, the world’s top HR tech event.
“To challenge entrenched market players, digital businesses need to innovate, but at times battle to find the technical expertise to do so. It’s ironic that in South Africa, with a 29% rate of unemployment, the situation is even more challenging.
Not only does the number of jobs far outweigh the number of skilled applicants, but because we are behind first-world countries when it comes to digital proficiency, so is our talent pool. Candidates often lack the technical know-how and experience required to develop globally competitive solutions. We have to adopt a new mindset when thinking about education and learning in this new digital world. Continuous self-learning through multiple mediums is being driven internationally,” says Putman.
Putman’s business, iKhokha, helps SMEs in SA to process card and digital payments. “iKhokha has quickly grown from a small team to more than 100 staff members, but to support our growth, we need to grow our staff complement by 50% in the next year,” he says. “Our Umhlanga based business in Durban needs top calibre people, but the best talent is in high demand and we are competing for placements with other growing digital companies in SA and other countries.”
“We are signing up thousands of new businesses every month and providing millions a month in finance to SMEs via our merchant cash advance offering. Transactions have grown by more than 200% this year alone, and we are processing billions of Rands in annualised card volume. We have scaled significantly as a business and now we need experienced people to match the pace of our expansion,” says Putman.
Stephanie Brown, head of talent at iKhokha, explains, “We are guided by what international digital companies are doing around talent management. They are upgrading skills using innovative learning methods while creating strong company cultures that combine people, purpose, profit and the planet.
Young people are looking for new-age work cultures, less red tape, more room for growth, flexibility and exposure to leading technologies. They also want to work for mission-lead companies. Because the market is so constrained, retaining the great people you have is as important as bringing in new talent.”
“Our talent acquisition strategy has already attracted top talent from FNB, Standard Bank, Accenture, Deloitte and RCL FOODS. These staff are thriving in a scale-up environment, while enjoying the relaxed Umhlanga lifestyle,” she says.
To attract top calibre staff, iKhokha has focused on creating a business that has an informal, casual and collaborative culture. Putman adds that, “Our development team has an average age of 26. They have helped create a platform that processes hundreds of millions of Rand for entrepreneurs across SA each month. Our technical team is committed to helping SMEs understand and scale their businesses. Successful candidates that join us will thrive from working for one of the most upcoming fintech companies in SA while helping to build the SME sector to create more jobs.”
The 50 plus vacancies at iKhokha include mobile and full-stack developers, risk analysts and software engineers through to creative, HR and finance roles. iKhokha’s current positions are available at ikhokha.com.