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This App, Aimed At Spanish Speakers, Helped Latinos Find Gigs During The Pandemic

A painter on a ladder works in the doorway of a home painted in pinks and lavenders.
Chamba provides job listing in high-demand fields such as construction, cleaning, warehouses and restaurants work to more than 34,000 users.
(Photo by Anne Wernikoff
/
CalMatters)
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While Marina Corona was watching TikTok videos a little over two months ago, she came across one that included information about a Spanish-language job finder mobile application.

Her interest piqued, Corona, who is a migrant worker, decided to download the free app, Chamba, to find out more.

“I was looking for a part-time (job),” said Corona, who works in the cleaning business. Without much effort, she found a potential opening and applied by text. In a matter of days, she was working in her new position.

Corona, who identifies as a limited-English speaker, says the app is better than applying through job agencies, which requires her to fill out online applications. Now, the L.A. resident says she can look for a full-time job from her phone.

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Launching In The Midst Of A Pandemic

Diego Montemayor, creator and CEO of Chamba, said while he’s had the idea for a long time, he felt an urgency to launch the app in April 2020, after seeing how many Latinos lost work during the pandemic.

“There are also years of suffering from our people who cannot find jobs in the United States,” said Montemayor, 29. “I saw the need to connect my people with more jobs in an easier way.”

In Mexican colloquial Spanish and in some Latin American countries, "chamba" translates to "work."

Based in Denver, Montemayor and co-founder, David Ruiz are proud of launching in the midst of the economic crisis. They have added seven more people — including developers, designers and marketers — to work on the app.

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Their first step was to ask small businesses for positions they’re trying to fill. They then forwarded users’ information to those potential employers.

“It took about a month to develop and release the first version of Chamba,” Montemayor said. “We saw that the pandemic was affecting people. We saw the problem, and we started operations.”

Technology A Great Help

Once they started working on Chamba, Montemayor needed to get the word out but didn’t have a marketing budget. Instead, they did a marketing hack with funny videos on social media such as TikTok.

“Entrepreneurship is not only the idea of ​​a business but also other things, such as creativity,” he said. “All of our growth has been organic. When we saw that we could work with influencers, we went down that route because now all the people are on social media."

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Chamba now has more than 34,000 registered users. About 1,000 people use the app to look for employment, and more than 20 jobs are published daily.

“We are in high demand for construction jobs, restaurants, cleaning and warehouses, ”said Montemayor.

Montemayor said Chamba is planning to expand employment categories for jobs that require higher levels of education as users request more job listings.

For now, the digital tool has already helped Spanish-speakers through a difficult time. Corona said she knows of at least five people who got a job through the Chamba app after Fry’s Electronics closed its doors.

  • This article is part of the California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequality and economic survival in California.

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Her acquaintances worked in the cleaning department at the company, and secured new jobs within weeks.

“I think it has been a very good option,” Corona said, “for all of us.”