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Giraffe SA Co-Founder, Shafin Anwarsha Shares On Essential Hiring Tips For Startups

Giraffe - Shafin

Growth Strategies

Giraffe SA Co-Founder, Shafin Anwarsha Shares On Essential Hiring Tips For Startups

Giraffe SA Co-Founder, Shafin Anwarsha Shares On Essential Hiring Tips For Startups

South Africa’s population which is pegged at over 55 million has an unemployment rate of over 26% growing at a rate of 2% p.a.  A country which has been described as the economic powerhouse of Africa is still grappling with alarming unemployment levels since the end of apartheid. It is a common scene to see graduates packed with their certificates and resumes taking various positions along the streets begging for work. More appalling is the fact that its unemployment rate among young people (15 – 24) is above the global average at more than 50%.

But Shafin Anwarsha and Anish Shivdasani are on a mission to close this employment gap by changing how young and entry job applicants can have easy access to job opportunities.  The two are the co-founders of a Johannesburg-based tech startup, Giraffe.

Giraffe SA is a job recruitment site that seeks to provide access to job opportunities to low-income job seekers through their phones. The platform created in 2015 is aimed at those workers who earn between $200 and $1000 per month and provides a low-cost option for employers to hire the most suitable candidate swiftly.

Through its intricate algorithm, Giraffe combs its database of potential candidates and automatically identifies the suitable candidates contacts them through SMS and schedules interviews at a time and place of the employer’s choice; and it even goes ahead to provide a tip like “Don’t be late”.

Giraffe SA is at the principal central bridge between job seekers that need to know about relevant available job opportunities and businesses that need to be able to source and contact the best candidates.

Shafin and Anish invested over USD 70,000 in seed funding from their savings and have received further investments from Omidyar Networks, a venture fund founded by eBay Founder, Pierre Omidyar’s. In 2016, they won the 2016 edition of Seedstars World, an International Startup competition.

This South African Startup which has a team of 8 generates revenues by getting a percentage of the annual salary of the candidate from the businesses after successfully placing the candidate in the company. For small businesses, they do this on an ad-hoc; but with larger corporates, they have monthly subscriptions that allow them to place a certain number of candidates for the month.

Giraffe SA has currently over 500,000 registered users and more than 400 businesses – both large corporates and small business and they are in an expansion plan across South Africa before embarking on Africa.

Shafin, who is an Actuarial Science graduate from the University of Cape Town shares exclusively with Founder360 ° Magazine on best practices a Startup, can adopt during their hiring processes.


How would you describe the hiring process for businesses in Africa?

Varies depending on resources available; bigger businesses have the luxury of using recruitment agencies and/ or labor brokers. These options are expensive however and don’t suit the bulk of businesses in Africa which are small or medium enterprises

SMEs primarily rely on 2 channels for recruitment:

  1. Internal team/ referrals
  2. Job Classifieds

These channels, however, are not perfect:

  • They require a lot of time and effort in sourcing and screening candidates – time that business owner has to take away from running the business
  • There’s a cost element for most high-quality job classifieds
  • Limited Reach
  • Takes time to fill/ close a vacancy (if at all)

It’s precisely for this reason that the recruitment industry is ripe for disruption, desperate to find a solution that efficiently matches job seekers to employers in the quickest possible way.

[bctt tweet=”“The most important factor in retaining talent in a start-up is right from the get-go, to ensure that the “right” candidate is hired for every role.”” username=”@founder360mag”]

Who should a startup hire first in the early stages of growth?

Assuming the product is ready to go to market, during growth, the two functional areas required to support growth are sales/ business development and operations. I’d argue that startups shouldn’t hire for either of these positions and instead have its founders lead up these divisions given that it’s key to the eventual success of the business.

Retaining top talent in a company is difficult in the current competitive environment where well-funded startups are sprouting from every corner? What are the tips that founders can embrace in retaining such talent once hired?

The most important factor in retaining talent in a start-up is right from the get-go, to ensure that the “right” candidate is hired for every role, to minimise the risk of attrition- the perfect candidate is someone who:

  • Is capable of the required role and has the necessary skills and experience to perform as required.
  • Wants to work at a startup and understands the risk it presents.
  • Believes in the vision of the company and what it’s trying to achieve.
  • Believes in the leadership/ team of the company, and its future success.
  • Understands the culture thereof in the company.

Finally, it’s also important to have the uncomfortable salary conversations up front. Startups often cannot compete with bigger corporates or VC backed startups, instead, they use equity as a way to incentivize staff whilst paying a below-market salary. It’s important that the employee has properly considered this and planned accordingly to avoid any uncomfortable financial issues that may arise in the future.

Read: The Five Key Essentials That Will Lead To Startup Success

What should startups be wary of when hiring?

Aside from the basics in terms of the candidate’s technical abilities for a particular role, it’s very important to suss out the motivation for why a candidate wants to work at a startup as well as the specific startup in question.

Working for a startup seems to be the “in thing” for many people these days, but without really understanding the stress and hard work that come with it. It’s vital that each candidate hired for a startup is aware and completely aligned with risk and hardship they’re about to sign up for. Only when this is done would I even consider them for a position.


What are the best practices for founders to hire right?

I don’t think these are set in stone but I approach recruiting in the following way:

  • Clearly define job spec, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Use this as a framework to determine best type of candidate (education or experience background) as well as necessary compensation-use industry benchmarks if necessary
  • Advertise across as many recruitment channels available. Although I’ve always found personal networks to be the best source for my first few hires.
  • Ensure candidates meet the necessary specs for the job role but also the right motivation and understanding of working in a startup.
  • Ensure candidate is aligned with and believes in the vision and success of the startup
  • Always, always ensure you check references.
  • And finally, take your time – more important to hire the right candidate slowly than fill the position immediately with a less-than-perfect candidate.


Let us work with an example here; let’s say a 2-year-old tech startup wants to hire a Chief Marketing Officer, describe the process that you would use including some of the qualities that you will check out for?

I’d follow a similar process as above. Given that a CMO is a relatively senior role, I’d take even more care to ensure that the candidate selected is the best candidate for the role. They will have to convince me that they can do the job and at the same time, have a passion for startups and the vision of our company in particular

Any additional tips you have?

Equity is the biggest differentiator between working for a startup and a corporate. Ensure you have enough equity to give to early staff/ founders. Setup an equity vesting structure to ensure that the team is incentivized to stay at the company for longer

Read the Full Magazine Here.

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