Taking a page from the gig economy playbook, Stephen Adedipe Adeola and Tomilola Abimbola have launched Spaciibit, an application that may drive digital inclusion within Nigeria’s informal sector. The app is currently available only to Android users.
Per the National Bureau of Statistics, the informal sector accounted for about 92% of the Nigerian labour force in the first quarter of 2023. The size of this economy translates into a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of about 65%, as estimated by the International Monetary Fund in 2020.
Despite the significant economic contribution of the informal economy, the lack of digital infrastructure and tools, among other factors, have been documented to affect its success.
With Spaciibit, a marketplace application, artisans can enjoy visibility and access to a larger market. On the other hand, clients can also enjoy easier access to a large pool of artisans and semi-skilled labour in their vicinity.
WHAT IS SPACIIBIT AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Spaciibit is designed to connect people to the nearest provider of the services that they need. It allows the service providers — artisans, SMEs, professionals — to connect with the nearest person in need of their service.
On the app, clients can search and locate the specific type of service they want with the ‘search by skill’ feature.
Similar to ride hailing and logistic applications, Spaciibit uses geo-technology to determine the distance and time between a client and the nearest service provider. It then provides clients with the approximate distance and time between them and the professionals they intend to hire
It is also similar to big digital marketplaces where clients have the option to select from a considerably wide range of professionals near them. Additionally, Spaciibit has the messaging feature that enables clients and professionals to exchange information on the app.
However, unlike popular freelance marketplaces, Spaciibit gives clients and professionals transactional autonomy. The app only connects clients with service providers, it does not interfere in the exchange between the parties. Also clients and professionals could connect with one another with minimal distractions, unlike many other marketplaces.
Essentially, the application could potentially solve the problem of visibility for professionals — especially in the informal sector — and access for clients in the Nigerian market.
WHO ELSE CAN USE SPACIIBIT?
While Spaciibit primaily targets artisans and other informal sector workers, professionals in the formal sector, students and freelancers , freelance professionals, event organisers, small and medium scale enterprises and even religious organisations can also use it
“The potentials are limitless and it would be limiting to relegate the app to just artisans. Religious organisations are part of our potential target markets,” Adedipe told FIJ.
“You could locate the nearest church that has a profile with us for you to attend. Freelancers can register, like artisans, for visibility. Students can get access to the nearest tutors or academic events. Spaciibit caters to all those type of people.”
WHAT IS SPACIIBIT TARGETING ?
Adedipe explained that Spaciibit has the immediate target of solving the problem of access and visibility for the informal sector, professionals and service providers in Southwest Nigeria.
“In the short-term, our goal is to reach one million users in Southwestern Nigeria. Beyond the short term, we want to expand this service to other parts of Nigeria and serve as the bridge between professionals and people who need them in Africa,” he add.
“The team behind Spaciibit is targeting new features and products as the number of users increase. We will conduct periodic evaluations, and we are looking at integrating new features for users. We would also be getting feedback from the users to know how to make the application better. In the nearest future possible, we could add the payment feature and some other interesting features.”
FIJ gathered that, by extension, the app is positioned to contribute to leveraging technology for job and wealth creation. This vision in line with the objectives of the Nigerian Ministry of Information, Communication and Digital Economy.
By trying to fill in the gap between customers and business, Spaciibit aims to provide relief for young entrepreneurs, ensure the success of Small and Medium enterprises in Nigeria, and drive the adoption of digital tools among artisans and other professionals in the Nigerian and African informal economy.
HOW DOES THE APP PROTECT THE SAFETY OF ITS USERS?
While Spaciibit allows users full control of their activities, especially exchanges with other users, there are usage conditions that protect service providers and clients. Users are also allowed to contribute reviews and make comments within the purview of the law.
To protect its users, however, the administrators retain the right to remove defamatory comments and any type of content deemed damaging to users and professionals.
Spaciibit is also particular about intellectual property. By implication, comments on the application must not violate the intellectual property rights of another user.
The application does not also allow users to make comments for soliciting business patronage, driving commercial traffic or marketing any unlawful venture, to reduce the risk of fraud.
Finally, Spaciibit does not allow hyperlinking to other websites, save certain approved and trusted organisations. Users can only hyperlink organisations such as government agencies, search engines and news organisations, to limit the risk of phishing and cybercrime.
THAT ONE CHALLENGE
“The biggest challenge we have is money. Creating a quality application in today’s Nigeria is expensive,” Adedipe said.
“We had to leverage on our relationship with developers to actualise the dream. We also face the challenge of recognition. We are not that popular yet among artisans.
“But it is something we are working towards. The app still faces marketing challenges because of the sheer cost of visibility.”
Adedipe added that Spaciibit hopes to gain traction and evolve, as it holds the potential to unlock unprecedented opportunities for economic growth in Nigeria. By that time, it may not just an app, but a bridge that connects a diverse range of professionals, entrepreneurs, and individuals in Africa under one digital umbrella.
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