Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

LokSewa Nepal: An app for govt job openings

Targeted at rural Nepal, the Mantra Ideas' app aggregates job notices, offers study material for tests, interviews

Transportation and connectivity are herculean challenges in any mountainous terrain. It gets even more tough when it comes to the Himalayas, the mountain range which boasts of some of the highest peaks in the world.

After the 25 April earthquake in Nepal, a country nestled in the Himalayas, the difficult terrain made the reconstruction a tough task.

The lack of easy access in that country prompted three software developers to come up with a solution for those who those looking for government jobs conducted by the Public Service Commission in Nepal.

“In a country like Nepal, it is very difficult to get real-time information about government jobs, especially in rural areas," said Yubaraj Poudel, a partner with Mantra Ideas Pvt. Ltd.

Mantra Ideas launched an app LokSewa Nepal in November 2014 on the Android platform, and recently on iOS platform.

According to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report, Least Developed Countries Report 2013, Nepal is one such country with 60% of its population below 25 years of age.

“The number of young people of working age in Nepal is currently increasing by 550,000 a year, and by 2020 it will climb to 633,000 a year," noted the report.

On the primary level, the LokSewa Nepal app is an aggregator of government job notices and results of various government examinations. “The notices and results are freely available on the government websites but are scattered. We have brought them together on one platform to provide convenience," said Ashok Basnet, chief executive officer and founder at Mantra Ideas.

The real value-adds, however, are its other offerings. It also offers study material for various job examinations, notes, practice questions and online tests.

Most people aspiring to join government service are forced to come to the capital Kathmandu and prepare for entrance examination as coaching centres are limited to the capital city.

“The app provides an opportunity for these people to stay at home and prepare for the examination," said Basnet.

The app also has sections which provide news, current affairs and tips for preparation. It also provides syllabus for various examinations and a calendar of upcoming important dates. The app also has a notification service for various developments.

“I would imagine that access to location for learning is a huge problem in a country like Nepal, and since the app is providing both information and education resource, if executed well, it will be great help," said Bharat Gulia, CEO at Metis Learnings, an education solutions provider.

Though the app can be downloaded for free, there is a section called the model test, which is behind paywall.

“The questions for this section have been prepared by current government servants who have cracked government examinations themselves," said Poudel.

At present, they have 10 authors, from engineers to commissioned officers, working with them, who have provided a various question sets.

Users can buy virtual coins on the app by paying either through bank accounts, credit cards or the e-Sewa mobile wallet.

These coins can then be used to purchase question sets available for various examinations.

“These question sets are very nominally priced, and the cost varies according to the number of questions accessed. We pay 30% as royalty to the authors for every purchase," said Basnet.

Under the model test, at the end of the time-based examinations, an analysis in terms of time taken and score, among others, are given to the test taker.

“The success of massive open online courses across the world is a testament that people are looking for such value-adds in the space of education," said Gulia.

In future, the app will also sell books related to these examinations,which are in huge demand, and people in remote areas do not have much access to these books.

“This will be another revenue source for us and we also plan to accept advertisements from institutes and book publishers," said Hem Kumar Shrestha, the third partner in Mantra Ideas, who along with Poudel and Basnet has developed the LokSewa Nepal app. Shrestha said they also have a discount coupon system wherein people can fill in promotion codes to get discounts. In the future, there will also be online quiz contests to win free coupons, which can be redeemed to use the paid services of the app.

The app also has a feedback system. Since launch in November, LokSewa Nepal has received 1,000 feedbacks. “We get feedbacks about a user’s experience and also if they face any issues in terms of using the app, or if they find any discrepancies," said Shrestha.

The app has seen about 60,000 downloads across Android and iOS platforms since launch.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts mBillionth and Manthan awards.

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