Mobile app to ease search for helpers

Local | Sophie Hui 26 Oct 2017

Employers can now hire the right helpers through their mobile phones and save on middleman fees for employment services using a mobile app - MamaHelpers - created by two Hong Kong University of Science and Technology students.

The app, created by two MPhil students in technology leadership and entrepreneurship program - 24-year-old Amanda So Tsz-yan and 23-year-old Yan Leung Yat-yin - was launched last month after a year of research to understand the needs of all stakeholders.

So said there are over 3,000 employment agencies on the market and about 80 to 90 percent of employers look to them for helpers. But not all of them are reliable and ethical.

So said she struggled to find the right domestic helper for her family in the past.

Though some new online platforms have emerged in recent years, involving employers sharing information on helpers in different Facebook groups, the move hardly helped improve the industry.

Using a HK$100,000 fund from Cyberport in December last year, the postgrads established a start-up company and created the mobile app.

"Currently, if a foreign domestic helper is deliberately doing something bad so she can get fired, her employer has nowhere to go to where she can forward her complaint. And there's no monitoring system," So said.

The two postgrads hoped Mamahelpers can improve the industry and benefit all stakeholders.

The app is free to both employers and helpers. On the database, employers can create job posts and look at helper profiles, as well as check the application process, including visa applications. Employers can also directly contact helpers that they are interested in.

Once an employer finds the right candidate, the company will only charge her a processing fee from HK$1,429 to HK$5,200. This means savings of up to 50 percent as employment agencies often charge about HK$10,000 to help match a foreign domestic helper to an employer. The app will help employers hire helpers already in Hong Kong or look for those still in the Philippines or other countries.

Since the app's launch, about 60 pairs of employers and helpers have been matched, and it now has over 3,000 active employer-users and over 300 positive reviews.

Its database now has over 20,000 helper profiles, about 60 percent to 70 percent from the Philippines. The rest are from Indonesia and scores from other countries, like Thailand and Vietnam, as well as some locals.

The app can also sort out ethical and reputable agencies for employers.

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