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We’re On A Mission To
Connect Employers With
Their Frontline Employees

The deskless majority are massively underserved when it comes to HR and Payroll technology. We’re going to change that. 


Build The Ultimate HR System For Deskless Workforces

80% of the world's workforce does not sit at a desk. They’re referred to as deskless or frontline workers, and they’re 2.7 billion strong across industries like manufacturing, agriculture, retail, hospitality, logistics and more. Despite being the majority, they have been overlooked by technology providers, with only 1% of enterprise tech being built for the deskless worker.

These frontline workers demand new technology that recognizes their unique needs and, at the very least, equals the experience of their office counterparts.

Their employers desperately need a better way to connect and engage with their deskless workforce. We founded Jem to meet those very specific needs, and built an HR system for the world’s deskless workers. 


The Story So Far

We've come a long way since 2020, and our story is just beginning.


    In May 2020 we set out to break the payday debt cycle and change the way employees accessed their earnings

    In Dec 2020, we won the top start-up in Africa in the Future Of Work category

    In Sep 2021, we realised that there was an opportunity to build products far beyond earned wage access

    In Dec 2021, we took the leap and began building HR and Communications products. It was no longer just about earned wage access

    In March 2022, we closed our $2m seed funding round

    In June 2022, we formally launched our new Payslips system

    In November 2022, we launched our rebrand with a fresh new name and look, and a renewed focus on our vision. SmartWage was no more: we became Jem

    In March 2023, Jem was accepted into Google's three-month accelerator program for highest-potential tech startups based in Africa. We were the only South African startup in the cohort.

How Did We Get Our Name?

When we started our journey, we had major ambitions. Our business started by focusing on on-demand pay products, which is why we gave ourselves the literal name 'SmartWage'. But our range of products - and ambitions - have grown far beyond wages, and we needed a new name that would reflect that.

We also thought about the brand's greater purpose and our renewed focus on frontline workers. Connecting the office with these faraway deskless employees is really at the heart of what we do, and it's essentially a form of long-distance communication. When you look at recorded human history, one of the oldest forms of long-distance communication is through drums. The most well-known 'talking drum' of them all is the Djembe

Our name, Jem, was taken from the middle of that word. It helps us encapsulate our new direction and commitment to helping employers connect with their faraway teams.


Our Offices

Cape Town: 17 Queens Park Avenue, Salt River

Johannesburg: 25 Minerva Ave, Glenadrienne, Sandton

London: 2 Mexfield Road, London, United Kingdom


Meet The Team

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Simon Ellis CEO & Co-FounderView LinkedIn
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Caroline van der Merwe CPO & Co-FounderView LinkedIn
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Thamsanqa Moyo Chief Technology OfficerView LinkedIn
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Adam Duxbury Head of StrategyView LinkedIn
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Evan Anderson Finance ManagerView LinkedIn
Triya Govender Head of Marketing & Client Experience
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Sinta Reynolds Product ManagerView LinkedIn
Nabeelah Allie Customer Success Manager
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Nthabiseng Mokoto Customer Success ManagerView LinkedIn
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Thandoluhle Dlamini Associate Product OwnerView LinkedIn
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Unamandla Mjo Product DesignerView LinkedIn
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Richard O'Brien Tech LeadView LinkedIn
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Ian Manda Intermediate Software EngineerView LinkedIn
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Sandisiwe Gxaba QA InternView LinkedIn
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Gustavo Mendes Intermediate Software EngineerView LinkedIn
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Moroa Matshubeni Senior Software EngineerView LinkedIn
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Thapelo Mothapo Front End EngineerView LinkedIn
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Tshepiso Mogapi Intermediate Software EngineerView LinkedIn
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Danielle Lifschitz Talent Acquisition & People Ops AssociateView LinkedIn
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Nonsuku Mthimkhulu Operations ManagerView LinkedIn
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Abigail Sylvester Customer Support CoordinatorView LinkedIn
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Patrick Makhele Customer Support CoordinatorView LinkedIn
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Abongile Makaula Customer Support CoordinatorView LinkedIn
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Katlego Kgolane Customer Support CoordinatorView LinkedIn
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Chris Hellmann Head of GrowthView LinkedIn
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Mark Burman Account ExecutiveView LinkedIn
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Naledi Dlamini Business Development RepresentativeView LinkedIn
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Katlego Mzangwe Business Development RepresentativeView LinkedIn
Paula Murray Business Development Representative
Lefa Mokgatle Business Development Representative

Our Team Is Growing

We’re on a mission to build systems for the

frontline workers of the world, and we’re looking

for brave and bright people to join our team.

Check out the openings below.