Bringing Informal Services Closer to the People


BY Olaseni Durojaiye

In response to the need to fill a niche, a new online platform,, has launched with a promise to connect operators in the informal sector with people that require their services, among whom are the busy executives who live in major urban centres. A product of Havillah Tents, the platform is described as Nigeria’s online business directory of artisans, tradesmen, craftsmen and informal sector businesses. Its promoters stated that it will operate as an electronic yellow page even as it offers appreciable measure of safety and convenience to patrons and service providers alike.

The launch of align with the call by observers who believe that the increasing internet penetration rate in the country, put at 68 million, has opened up more opportunities in the digital space beyond just the social media or deploying it for social networking, arguing that the use of the digital media should increasingly include business and commercial endeavours.

Besides, the comfort and ease that online shopping provide, especially among the youth market and business executives with very busy schedules is believed to serve as a further boost for the need to deploy the new media for activities beyond social engagements and interactions.

The Chief Executive Officer of Havillah Tent, Olukayode Alaka, stated that the idea for the platform came as a result of the need to meet a perceived need in the society, making urban roads less congested by having less cars on the road and less wastage of man hours spent in traffic, promoting the go green initiative and helping out those urgent and unplanned disruptions in the everyday routine of life due to a breakdown and so on.

In chat with THISDAY, Alaka, explained that, “Basically, the site is like the old yellow pages, and so it’s legally buyers beware. But we do, on the point of adding profiles of the various workmen and contractors, we go to their workshops to carry out on the spot assessment and have at least basic knowledge that they are who they say they are, we also intend to get a security company run checks for our artisans and business profiles.

We must also note that security issues are two ways, vendors and end users. We have also considered end users that do not want to pay after receiving service up to and including claims of theft and damages, which is why we suggest that before getting to any site, all vendors conclude agreements before starting jobs, as well as take and agree on immediate inventory and their state of use,” he stated.

Alaka also stated that, “the Contact Us segment would have our contact details , our phone numbers, also having a form for mailing us which would be acknowledged to the clients email with a Find an ‘Oniseowo’; this should take the client to the main advert page where profiles of artisans are displayed. These profiles can be divided into different categories: Generator, Vehicles, Home Repair/Maintenance, Home Decor/Design, Plumbing, woodwork, Electricals/Electronics, Domestic Workers, Fashion & Design, Hair & Beauty, Gardening/Landscaping.

Speaking further on the concept, Alaka explained that “the site will solve a lot of problems in the society. It will link service providers, artisans, tradesmen and workmen with those who need their services. Besides, it came as a result of meeting a perceived need in society, making the society go green, fewer cars on the road, less wastage of man hours spent in traffic, helping out those urgent and unplanned disruptions in the everyday routine of life due to a breakdown and so on. The site is configured in such a way that when someone who needs a service provider goes on the site, the information he provides will throw up available resource person or businesses closest to him so that no one has to travel long distance to execute a job.

It was also gather that the profile for each oniseowo as it would appear to the client would show profile picture, contact details, recent passport photograph, introduction of business or and business owner, area of expertise, physical contact address, email, and an ability to rate the service of the artisan or contractor using stars and comments by clients. Also the oniseowo profile is designed in such a way that clients are advised to always come back after the service delivery to rate the profile, and they are encouraged to do so on the site rather than do so to the artisan. Depending on the subscription class, also assign mails to them at a premium fee.

“We have also taken into consideration the likelihood that an interested tradesman or artisan wants to enlist but he is not internet savvy and does not know how to go about it. In this case we have people who will go over to such person and help him log on and have his profile listed on after the person has satisfied all our requirement including safety and competency tests,” Alaka added.