The National Income Dynamics Study Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey has found that an estimated three million jobs were lost between February and April due to the Covid-19 pandemic and government restrictions aimed at curbing the spread.
The study further found that the number of people who earned an income in February declined by 33% either due to people losing their jobs or being furloughed.
Official unemployment statistics from Statistics South Africa reveal that the number of unemployed people increased to a record high of 30.1% in the first quarter.
Alternative income source
The worsening of the country’s joblessness and economic decline is putting pressure on household income, making it necessary for people to find alternative ways of earning an income.
Cape Town-produced app Zlto is one avenue of doing this.
Zlto or ‘Zlato’, which means gold, is a web rewards app that uses blockchain technology to reward members for doing volunteer work to assist their communities.
The app was co-founded by Allan Van Der Muellen through social non-profit Reconstructed Living Labs (RLabs) in 2014 as a response to the issue of unemployment among young people in South Africa.
Currently, Zito has over 60 000 users. In the past month alone there has been an increase of more than 10 000 people joining the platform.
“Through Zlto we’ve seen youth and their families being able to access essential food items, electricity and much-needed toiletries through their earnings on the platform,” says Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs.
He adds that since its inception, the app has been able to impact the lives of more than two million people through the various tasks completed by the users.
Parker explains that young people and other members have the option of performing a number of tasks – from taking part in community activities, supporting small businesses or volunteering at local community organisations.
The app recently partnered with Unicef SA to introduce the Tippy Taps challenge, which encourages members to build makeshift taps usinga plastic bottle, string, sticks and soap in areas where there is limited access to running water.
“Once the tasks are completed, the work is submitted to our community of reviewers on the platform who will have to verify the work depending on the type of work, a number of hours and how many people are impacted by the work,” says Parker.
Ultimately a user will earn Zlto, or reward points, which can be used to make purchases at places like Shoprite, Pep and can also be used for airtime and electricity.
While providing unemployed people with opportunities to acquire work experience while doing good in their communities, Zlto also gives members an opportunity to upskill and train through a number of free nano courses such as entrepreneurship, public speaking and social media.
Parker says they have issued more than 20 000 certificates to people on the platform over the past two weeks alone.
The app has received recognition from the Mastercard Foundation, Unicef, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Google just to name a few. Its footprint extends outside of South Africa’s borders with a presence in Tanzania, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
“We have built this platform from the heart of the Cape Flats showcasing what is possible from the unlikeliest of places,” says Parker
“We are excited as we continue on our journey of growing the number of people on the platform but also expanding the platform to other countries with a strong focus on Africa.”