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(TechCrunch) Assured Labor, a New York, Mexico City and Sao Paulo-based startup that helps low- and middle-income workers across Latin America find jobs through their mobile phones, just closed $5.5 million in funding led by Mexican private equity firm Capital Indigo. Other existing investors include Great Oaks Venture Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, Kima Ventures, Enzyme Venture Capital, Fabrice Grinda and Jose Marin.
The company, which came out of MIT’s Media Lab, runs two big job-hunting services called EmpleoListo in Mexico and TrabalhoJá in Brazil that now have 500,000 job seekers and 16,000 employers. They’re growing at a clip of about 1,000 employers per month. (They only just broke into the Brazilian market a year ago.)
With Assured Labor, employers looking for potential hires can put job descriptions in through the company’s website. Assured Labor will find the most qualified candidates and text message or e-mail them.
Workers register on computers either at home or through web cafes. Once they’re in the system, they’ll get text messages any time a company posts a relevant position and they can text or call back through a private number. Naturally, employers pay to find candidates.
This company isn’t really competing with higher end services like LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is going for the opposite end of the job spectrum,” said CEO David Reich.
Reich says Assured Labor is more of a social enterprise that targets the lower-earning segment of the market. If you look at the job listings on Empleolisto, they’re for positions like customer service representative or bilingual executive assistant.
Many of their clients are still on feature phones, as Latin American markets are only beginning to experience an oncoming wave of affordable Android phones.
“I wish that transition with smartphones would happen faster,” Reich said. “A lot of users would have a better experience with us through smartphones. They still have very small penetration, maybe only 10 to 15 percent in most countries in Latin America.”