Gigacover, a Singapore-based fintech company that provides gig workers with access to employment benefits, announced Dec. 3 that it is expanding to the Philippines, which has a 1.5 million-strong informal workforce.
It offers freelancers incentives associated with regular employment.
“Benefits and insurance are the two main areas where Gigacover is looking to create and add value to Filipinos who are without them,” said Amerson Lin, Gigacover co-founder and chief executive officer, in an e-mail to BusinessWorld. “The team is also exploring financial products that would allow these workers to gain access to capital — to get the tools they need for their work, or to access their earnings faster.”
The Philippines has one of the youngest and biggest casual workforces in Southeast Asia (SEA), according to Mr. Lin.
The gig economy refers to temporary technology-based work with independent contractors or freelancers. This type of project-based work includes computer programming, social media management, graphic design, virtual assistance, and ride sharing.
Based on the World Bank’s 2019 estimates, SEA’s informal workforce has seen a consistent 30% annual growth — which was further accelerated in 2020 by the pandemic.
Mr. Lin, who used to be an information-technology freelancer, founded Gigacover after realizing that he couldn’t even get a credit card application approved due to the nature of his work.
Gigacover operates by partnering with gig marketplaces and other companies that intend to sponsor benefits and insurance for their gig workforce. In keeping with the nature of gig work, it co-creates benefits and insurance programs that allow for flexibility — like breaking down annual insurance plans into monthly issuances.
Gig workers who want to upsize or extend their company-sponsored coverage may also do so through the platform.
Its first clients in the Philippines are the Filipina Homebased Moms, an entrepreneurship and freelancing group for Filipina mothers; and Gogo Xpress, a cargo and freight company.
“[Individual] workers will only be able to sign up [for our products] if their marketplaces or companies partner with Gigacover,” Mr. Lin said. “The team is working hard to open up direct channels for workers to self-purchase soon.”
Among Gigacover’s partners are Etiqa, a Malaysian insurance firm, and Aventus, a medical services provider.
The fintech company, whose Philippine country manager was a previous Uber and Grab driver in Singapore himself, aims to cover 100,000 gig workers in the country by the second quarter of 2022.