Pan-African Platform AfriBlocks is the First Zimbabwean Startup Backed By Techstars
Photo Credit: LinkedIn / Tongayi Choto

Pan-African Platform AfriBlocks is the First Zimbabwean Startup Backed By Techstars

The tech industry is increasingly supporting more and more innovative Africa-based startups. Techstars Seattle — a local accelerator a part of Techstars’ worldwide network — is now among the bunch giving these companies a push in the right direction.

Back in January, Techstars Seatlle announced its 2021 class of companies joining its programming — including for the first time ever a Zimbabwean startup called AfriBlocks, TechCrunch reports.

AfriBlocks is a global pan-african freelance collaboration platform that helps vet African freelance professionals. The startup was founded by entrepreneurs Tongayi Choto and Roger Roman in July of last year in an effort to address the high unemployment rate that plagues many African countries today.

“It can be very hard to find African freelancers,” CEO Choto told TechCrunch. “If a customer is lucky enough to get past those hurdles and find a freelancer to work with, they often don’t have the proper collaboration tools to complete the project in a precise and timely manner.”

Prior to creating their startup, Choto, a Zimbabwean native, served as a product manager at BillMari — a pan-African remittance service leveraging bitcoin technology. As for Roger, who grew up on the west side of Chicago, he worked as both an active angel investor and VC scout.

AfriBlocks exists in the $800 billion global freelance market to help equip African freelancers with automatic collaboration tools and a secure payment system that makes the process of completing remote contract projects easier.

According to TechCrunch, by matching freelancers with a customers’ profile, AfriBlocks simplifies the process of sifting through candidates and recommends the most qualified people for a specific job.

AfriBlocks’ platform also allows for a project manager to help oversee the freelancers’ work so expectations are clear from the start and deadlines are met on time.

Additionally, the company also offers community and development resources that assist with upskilling through partnerships with nonprofit African orgs such as Ingressive for Good. Partnerships such as these help AfriBlocks access tech tools for free that help ensure freelancers are remaining competitive in the ever-changing global marketplace.

TechCrunch reports that AfriBlocks has onboarded over 2,000 freelancers and more than 400 buyers, helping to complete upwards of 250 jobs and bring in over $60,000 in revenue in just under a year.

Despite obstacles the startup encountered along the way, it was able to receive support from its investors and keep the platform thriving.

“We’ve encountered the problems that many Black founders face, such as scarce fundraising sources,” co-founder Roman shared with TechCrunch. “However, organizations like Techstars Seattle, Transparent Collective and Google for Startups have helped us by providing mentorship, networking opportunities and investor demo days showcases.”

Freelance work has been highlighted as a reliable source of employment for many, especially over the last year with remote work seeing an uptick. Platforms like AfriBlocks will continue to thrive in the marketplace as more people position freelance work as their sole full-time jobs.

In terms of long-term goals, AfriBlocks hopes to “make Africa the global hub for technical and creative freelancers,” according to Choto’s TechCrunch interview, while it continues to build upon Africa’s tech infrastructure.

For more information about AfriBlocks, click here.