Digital commerce has the potential to impact youth employment in emerging economies

iWorker Projection Tool

The future of work in emerging economies

iWorkers are digitally-connected workers with smartphones: gig workers, eLancers, e-commerce merchants or sellers. Thanks to rising mobile and internet penetration, this segment is growing quickly around the world. By 2030, for instance, we estimate there may be as many as 88 million young iWorkers in Africa alone.

About the iWorker Project

The term iWorker was first coined in the 2019 report Digital Commerce and Youth Employment. iWorkers are a new category of workers – those whose livelihoods are enabled by digital commerce platforms through which they sell goods and services, and do so in a variety of forms. Many iWorkers, including gig workers, eLancers, and e-commerce merchants or sellers, are self-employed and conduct commerce via a smartphone.

Digital commerce is changing the structure of economies worldwide, bringing both disruption and opportunity. Policymakers have a window of opportunity to act now to improve future employment outcomes, while governments can enact progressive formalization measures, which recognize and encourage this emerging group.

To test the potential of the iWorker concept and to provide actionable policy recommendations, we designed a country-level diagnostic that captures the factors in a local economy that enable or constrain the emergence of iWorkers. Our hope is that this diagnostic can applied by different countries within their specific contexts. The diagnostic was first applied to Ghana in May 2019, with the results and recommendations for policymakers published in the Ghana Country Diagnostic Report.

Who is an iWorker?

Take the brief quizzes below to determine what makes someone an iWorker.

Quiz 1

What type of work is iWork?

Start quiz

Quiz 2

Is iWork formal or informal?

Start quiz

Quiz 3

Why engage in iWork?

Start quiz

 

How many iWorkers will there be?

Use the iWorker Projection Tool to estimate how many iWorkers your country might have by 2030.

USE PROJECTION TOOL

Our partner

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion, to create an inclusive and equitable world.

Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard International when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

Videos 

Hear more from BFA Global CEO Amolo Ng’weno, as well as some of the iWorkers we spoke to in Ghana.

Meet the iWorkers

Joseph

Meet the iWorkers

Rhoda & Erica

Meet the iWorkers

Illa

Featured Insights

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