Ever wonder where the name JooMah comes from? Today we are sharing a wonderful blog post from Kwaku Akoi, CEO of JooMah to share its origin story. JooMah is a web platform that connects employers to the best qualified job-applicants in Ghana. It was launched by a team of Wesleyan students with the help of the Patricelli Center, the 2014 Seed Grant, and enrichment and scholarship grants for three JooMah team members; Oladoyin Oladapo (COO), Olayinka Lawal (Lead Strategist), and Kwaku Akoi (CEO).
Exploring JooMah’s website, you can learn more about the platform, the team, and watch an introductory video. To read about the early development of JooMah, their report-backs after they received the 2014 Seed Grant are available here: Report 1 and Report 2.
By Kwaku Akoi
I get asked quite often where the inspiration for JooMah came from and the meaning of the word “JooMah”. Before I go on to tackle the not so simple origin of our mission to drastically reduce unemployment in Africa using software, let me talk about the name and how it came about.
“JooMah” is a moderately anglicised version of the Ashanti-Twi word for “work”. For those of you who may not know (which is like 97.7% of our readers), Ashanti-Twi is the most widely spoken of the 50+ native languages in Ghana. Of course the traditional spelling and pronunciation of the word for “work” is a bit too labourious for non Akan speakers. That’s why I went with anglicising the spelling and pronunciation to “JooMah”.
Now, on to the mission.
When I first thought of JooMah, I was in between majors at Wesleyan University. It was a fleeting thought : something about helping people find jobs faster using software. I had just given up on my dream of majoring in computer science and was beginning to really enjoy my microeconomics class. Still charmed by the idea of oneday writing software myself, economics and the prospect of bringing about change back home in Ghana, I realised that the link between real world applications of nash equilibriums, preference curves and labour economics was a very short one. Suddenly, the idea of helping people find jobs faster using software seemed like something that could take on multiple dimensions and morph into a powerful attempt at reducing unemployment in Africa.
I wondered (and still wonder) to myself, “Will making job matches more efficient lead to a net positive expansion of the labour market?”
In other words, “If we make it extremely easy for employers to find the right people, are they going to start hiring more in each business cycle?”
If so, what will be the ripple effect across sectors of the economy, and what can governments do to accerate this net positive effect in terms of policy setting and implementation?
The more I pondered the question, the more restless I got. Eventually, I decided to start something and asked some of the smartest people I know to help out (Max, Yinka, Oladoyin, Sam, Justin and Assoh).
Along the way, we’ve had tremendous support from Makaela Kingsley (Director, PCSE), and many other Wesleyan alumni.
Two and half years after the initial thought, we have our first 17 employers in Ghana and Nigeria signed on, and almost 1,000 job seekers.
Exciting as it may seem, we are just getting warmed up – afterall, Africa is the second largest continent in the world!