WeChat Africa invests in M4JAM, allowing it to scale its local and global reach [updated]


Additional reporting by Jacques Coetzee

M4JAM has been on quite a run since its inception back in August 2014. Just a few days ago Ventureburn broke the story that the micro-jobbing startup has lured Google’s Brett StClair to its team. And now WeChat Africa, a joint venture between Naspers and Tencent, has announced its investment in the South African micro-jobbing platform.

The love affair between the two has been ongoing since M4JAM launched on WeChat’s mobile ecosystem in August 2014. There is no indication of this deal being part of the initial attraction to each other but it would certainly appear so.

M4JAM, which has until now been self-funded, told Ventureburn last year that the company will be looking for investment after the initial roll-out phase. The company notes that WeChat’s investment will allow the company to scale its business locally and expand it globally thus positioning it as a digital game-changer for consumer brand engagement, creating real time business solutions whilst solving real world problems of unemployment.

Read more: M4JAM: the new startup that uses micro-jobbing to solve SA’s biggest problem

There is no doubt that M4JAM is disrupting the conventional way for brands doing business and a deal like this, whatever the amount, will further assist the company deepen its disruption of the jobs industry.

“WeChat’s investment allows us to focus on building our business while they provide the community that helps enable our success. We launched M4JAM on WeChat because the social communications app offers a fast and easy deployment platform,” says Andre Hugo, co-founder and chief jammer at M4JAM.

“M4JAM is part of the social conversation, which is good news for WeChat users as they will have access to the service without having to download another app. It also benefits M4JAM as we are able to tap into an existing user base, which will be a huge benefit when moving into new markets where WeChat already has a strong presence.”

Read more: Exclusive: Google bigwig to join fast-growing M4JAM

Brett Loubser, Head of WeChat Africa, said that “WeChat is on a path to deliver value for users via multiple Official Accounts like M4JAM. We’re supporting their growth to demonstrate that through the right partnerships, WeChat can deliver value, not only for users but for brands as well. We have several other start-ups launching on the platform this year that will help us show the true power of an integrated mobile social platform.”

Update: We’ve extended the article to include some feedback from M4JAM co-founder Andre Hugo below.

Hugo says that the deal has been in negotiation for the last four months and that the two parties have always had a strong relationship. Asked about how this deal influences M4JAM’s ability to scale to other platforms, Hugo states that the WeChat’s platform “will not be exclusive.” He points out that M4JAM jobs can now be embedded into banner adds and that the startup has also been experimenting with SMS campaigns.

It’s also recently launched the Earn Button which enables brands to create a Call to Action on their digital properties for users to better find jobs.

Hugo notes that Naspers now have more members on board. “The new board members will be helping us on gaining strategy perspective and opening up more doors for new opportunities,” he says.

Pointing out some of the impressive growth seen by Tencent’s mobile products over the years, Hugo says that he’s welcoming the new members on board, highlighting their impressive “know-how strategy”. “If we can achieve at least 10% of that growth we’ll be ecstatic,” he adds.

In terms of traction, he says that M4JAM has been “steadily growing”. “The challenge has been that when we launched last year we were just three people. Last week we launched 25 000 new jobs which includes 15 000 from returning brands.”

“We’ve always wanted to go global,” Hugo tells Ventureburn. “There are about 14 territories we’re looking at but expanding to other markets will all depend on stabilising the product in SA. We need to get SA humming before going to point A and point B.”

Excitingly, M4JAM is further planning on a launching a television game show in April this year, which Hugo says will be a massive boost for the company. “Think of it as a mashup between Minute to Win It and The Amazing Race,” the chief jammer says. We’ll let you know once the plans for this have been finalised on this front. Certainly exciting times.



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