Recruitment and outsourcing are lucrative sectors in fast growing East African economies such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Somaliland. Mid to senior level appointments are sought after, especially with a number of blue chip companies operating here. The market is under-served and although average salaries are low, those who have hard to find skills and experience are paid a premium - even by Western standards. As internet access rapidly increases, especially for big cities such as Addis Ababa, there is healthier competition because people now have faster access to available opportunities. High paid jobs in Ethiopia include senior staff for beverage companies, NGO workers, accountants, bank managers and technicians.

A non-profit organisation that operates independently of the government is known as an NGO and there are many from all around the world in Ethiopia. Project Coordinators and Managers earn on average ETB 200,000 (USD 7,200) a year and companies recruiting include the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) USAID, PIDA and PACT. WASH (water sanitation and hygiene) professionals are also needed and as one example, the International Rescue Committee offer ETB 300,000 (USD 10,750) per annum for a coordinator specialising in this. It is important to understand the role of NGOs operating in Ethiopia to place candidates successfully. These positions remunerate well (some as much as USD 2,000 a month) but they demand a high level of experience and specialist skills.

Most NGO agencies and job boards are based in London with firms such as Acre, Bond, TPP and dominating. These companies tend not to reveal the name of their clients but other portals (mainly operating in Africa itself) do give away useful information such as contact details and salary. This makes new business easier as agency recruiters have all the information they need before calling or emailing new prospects. NGO procedures are rigorous and very process driven so it is important to understand all requirements fully before making an introduction. Getting through to decision makers is a priority when placing into these organisations and that often means bypassing HR. The same can be said for selling advertising on a jobs board. Physical presence in Ethiopia makes it possible to meet line managers or heads of department who usually have the final say over a candidate and terms of business.

This is a very client-driven sector but talent is scarce, so it’s critical to regularly monitor candidates throughout East Africa via LinkedIn, email and occasional calls / texts. New hires often require a change of location so knowing about international schools and accommodation rates is worthwhile. A jobs board will give NGO clients the opportunity to advertise their vacancies but quality control is important here as an influx of low rate applicants will scare companies off. There are two or three already operating in the space (such as EthioJobs and etcareers) but none have a focus on East Africa and all are badly designed. Specialising in mid to senior level appointments in just a few select verticals, such as finance and management, will attract the right calibre of person. Vetting CVs before they are passed on and marketing across relevant channels can also improve ROI for paying customers. Using the NGO sector as an example, there are a number of trade shows (such as AIDF Summit) and online publications (such as NGO Magazine) where high level candidates can be found.

NGO directors are based in EA and Europe or America. These are important to keep on side as they can be both candidates and decision makers. Annual salaries here often exceed USD 100,000 per annum with each usually assigned a specific department such as communications, programs or finance. Pitching an NGO director needs to be thought about carefully and scripted (as with any sector) so knowledge about their company, experience and specific market will improve the chance of a deal. Attending trade shows, reading industry publications and using networking sites are the best way to locate contacts. For smaller NGOs it is worth approaching CEOs directly as they will hold the purse strings. LinkedIn lists a number of directors in the region at companies such as USAID, PACT and Save the Children. Job titles can be deceiving so it’s imperative to make sure somebody is a decision maker before contacting.

Salaries in the financial sector range from ETB 10,000 to 30,000 a month. Accountants are in demand here, especially with some of the of the bigger companies and of course, NGOs.

The engineering sector is popular in Ethiopia but on the whole, people are not paid well enough for the skills they have. An average public sector salary is ETB 5,000 a month (USD 140) and a high salary in the private sector is ETB 20,000 a month (USD 720). Engineers with very specialist and hard to find skills do get more, especially at European and American firms. This country is an ideal location for knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) services, especially in engineering. It offers well educated, hungry graduates who have good English. They are ambitious, eager to work and inexpensive with a good starting salary coming in at £250 (USD 319) a month - ballpark figure. Knowledge process outsourcing, although a relatively new sector, was valued at USD 28.94 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 124.2 billion by 2025. To make a KPO business function the salary and benefits structure must be considered carefully along with a rewarding and progressive workplace. Engineering + design goes hand in hand with analytics + market research and they are the high growth services best suited to Ethiopia.

There are three main ways to acquire new clients (i) inbound leads (ii) online portals and (iii) converting cold calls to warm leads. Advertising via social media and publications are good ways to bring in business. The same can be said for SEO, PPC + well designed UX. Customers must know exactly what services are on offer, how they can be accessed and the ways to pay. Harvesting data from freelance portals, Google and various bids or tenders is effective to find companies. As with recruitment, once a potential lead has been discovered, it is important to reach the decision maker straight away. Time is often wasted speaking to members of staff who have no involvement in choosing which company does what and when they do it. A good sales strategy has to be in place to convert deals quickly but sticking with people is also worthwhile as if they don’t pay today, they will tomorrow. Some clients are only looking to save money, others will be looking for quality and the majority will want both. Being honest and managing expectations can retain business. A good CRM and data management system is there to record all interactions and increase future sales.

India, the Philippines and Eastern Europe are currently most popular for KPO and salaries vary greatly from country to country. After researching the different level of pay in each destination, it remains similar across engineering, design, analytics and market research but rises for senior staff. An average salary in India for somebody working as an analyst is ₹362,000 a year (USD 5,000) and for a manager that can rise to ₹615,000 (USD 8,500). The Philippines is more expensive with KPO workers earning ₱26,400 (USD 500) a month and more senior staff ₱52,800 a month (USD 1,000). Eastern Europe comes in the priciest and specialists here take home similar to what they would in more developed countries, although Romania and Bulgaria are competing. Africa is a brand new player in the KPO market but places such as Kenya and SA have already begun providing world class services at a lower cost than India.

Recruiting for certain sectors in Ethiopia will be tough because some industries such as telecoms and aviation are government-owned, creating a monopoly. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Somaliland have more privatisation in place, making it easier to do business. That being said; telecoms, aviation (and other areas of engineering) present many interesting opportunities for KPO with plenty of graduates available. As mentioned before, £200 - £250 (USD 319) per month is a good starting salary and that should also include incentives (such as benefits / promotions) to keep people motivated. In 2016 Addis Ababa University launched a Telecommunications Engineering program at Masters Level creating a hub of talent. Maintaining a good relationship with institutions like this can provide a steady flow of talent into an outsourcing company. Any government won’t be happy with private businesses taking their best people, so a partnership or agreement needs to be in place before actually hiring.

Words - Ruari Phillips