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At R50 a pop, this site wants to be the marketplace for all skills and talents

What are you willing to do for R50?

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“I will design your book cover … for R50”, “I will install WordPress so you can build your own website … for R50” or design your business cards and so forth. These are all micro-jobs people are willing to do on For A Fifty — a new site that hopes to change the way people distribute their skills and businesses outsource tasks.

Launched on 25 August 2014 by Noleen Mariappen, For A Fifty is an online marketplace where people can offer services, skills or knowledge for R50 (about US$5). It currently seems to be more like a freelancers’ fair though For A Fifty hopes to get the bulk of South Africa’s skills on the platform — from matriculants to stay-at-home parents.

Mariappen tells Ventureburn that she hopes For A Fifty will become a household name within the next five years, and to then expand to other African countries.

“I would love for For A Fifty to be the first port of call for businesses and individuals looking for affordable services, and for us to have moved to the point where we support far more offline expertise, and have expanded into other regions as well,” Mariappen says.

Sites that are potential competitors could be the free online classifieds Gumtree South Africa and, possibly, the very old-school-looking Kwik Jobs which features micro-jobs from R20 to R900. Internationally, there are a bunch of popular freelance-focused startups like oDesk, Elance or Fiverr. The latter (you can imagine) is probably to closest to For A Fifty.

Just last month, Fiverr raised US$30-million focusing on making its services more available on the international market.

Mariappen hopes her new startup will contribute to both employment of skills as well as business out-sourcing:

We want to increase employment opportunities within South Africa, and to assist businesses and individuals in South Africa by providing local services, (e.g. handing out of flyers etc), as well as remote (e.g. virtual assistants or remote IT support). We also intend to offer skills assessments for those interested in increasing earnings but unsure of what they have to offer.

The founder of For A Fifty has a background in organisational psychology, project management and business and personal development consultancy. Mariappen is also the founder of three additional advertising startups, including WeddingFairOnline and WhyDIY.

“I have always endeavoured to make a meaningful difference, and realised that there was a gap in the market, which would also help to increase job opportunities for South Africans, and form a platform for businesses to be able to outsource, save, sustain themselves and grow,” she says.

So far the site has over 300 registered users of which about half of them offer their services to the whole wide web. All jobs posted on the platform are free, though people can choose to pay extra to have their services promoted. Furthermore, in terms of revenue, For A Fifty also takes 20% commission on all orders made.

There is also a degree of quality control, with users being able to rate their favorite users.

For A Fifty has so far raised R60 000 — half of which was funded by D Kelaiditis, while the other comes out of Mariappen’s pocket. The founder says that they are currently looking for further funding.

The site intends to feature predominantly SA providers, and cater specifically to the local market. However, given South Africa’s weak currency, out-sourcing jobs to businesses on a global scale shouldn’t be disregarded at all.

Mariappen says that she believes this platform can make a real and meaningful difference to individuals and businesses in South Africa. “We (South Africans), have so much to offer and I have been amazed at the expertise advertised within just a few weeks of being online. If businesses tap into this expertise in a strategic way, there is no end to what they can accomplish by outsourcing,” she says.

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