Simprints is a nonprofit tech company that came out of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. We’re trying to tackle what is called the “identification bottleneck,” which refers to the 1.5 billion people around the world who do not have any type of formal ID.
Most of us have a driver’s license, a passport, a Social Security number and other forms of ID. We have different ways of showing who we are, which allows us to access a lot of services that we take for granted. But these 1.5 billion people just don’t have that opportunity.
There are NGOs, governments and even businesses that are trying to extend essential services to people in need. Whether it’s a vaccination for children or a microfinance loan, the organizations providing these services need to know who they’re dealing with.
We’re building identification pools based on fingerprint biometrics that are accessible, robust, open source and tailored to these frontline contexts where you have high humidity, high temperatures, and people with rough fingerprints that have been used a whole lifetime.
Hiring is one of the biggest challenges we face. We’re trying to solve a huge challenge that even biometrics companies with hundreds of employees have not been able to solve. And we’re trying to do it on a shoestring budget with 10-15 people. That only works if you hire not just good people, but the best people. That’s been a real real challenge because, in terms of tech recruitment, we’re competing with the Amazons, the Twitters, the Facebooks, the Googles of the world.
Since we can’t afford to pay the same salaries, we need to reach the right people and get them to buy into our vision. We need to make such a compelling case that they’re happy to take a risky, significantly lower paying job that won’t result in the traditional opportunities that come in the private sector. They have to want to do it because they believe in our mission and the impact they can make.
Retention is a huge challenge, especially if you look at our sector. The impact a person makes goes a long way in whether or not they change jobs.
One of the things we do, is we send everyone in the company to field sites, whether they’re an engineer, an accountant or a project manager. We send them out so they can see how what they do translates to impact on the ground. If we have a coder stuck in front of a laptop for three years, they’ll lose their passion if they never see the impact of what they do.
There are 1.5 billion people without identification. Our first goal is to make sure that every NGO and government in the world has access to identification tools that are accessible and that work for that context.
That’s the future. Until we’ve achieved that, we won’t rest.
Trakstar is a multi-product HR software provider helping organizations put the people back in people management. Develop and align your staff through better recruiting and applicant tracking, performance management, and learning management. For a more integrated solution to talent management, check out our website and request a live demonstration today.