US firm Atlas taps SA for regional office


Atlas CEO and founder Rick Hammell at the launch event in Sandton.


US-based human resources (HR) technology company Atlas this morning announced its launch in SA, establishing its regional headquarters in the country.

This, according to the company, is part of its global expansion plans in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

Founded in 2015 in Chicago, Atlas describes itself as an employer of record (EOR) service provider, making employment services available to organisations looking to expand into new territories or hire remote workers.

The company takes on the legal responsibility of employing international teams on behalf of a client, handling legal and administrative responsibilities associated with employment, such as payroll, taxes, benefits and compliance with local labour laws.

Atlas’s clients find the talent they want to employ and then Atlas undertakes the rest of the process. The EOR firm also works with local recruitment partners that support its clients to find local talent in the territories to which they want to expand.

Speaking at a media briefing this morning, Atlas CEO and founder Rick Hammell noted the company aims to simplify international hiring and payroll.

“The foundation of what we do is to help people, making sure we create opportunities where companies and talent are able to connect where they’ve never had that opportunity before.

“If talent wants to work for a company in South Africa that’s doing business in the Middle East, for example, they should be able to have that opportunity.”

He explained the costs and complexities of setting up entities around the world are sometimes prohibitive, so start-ups or scale-ups looking to expand globally are often discouraged. For example, establishing an entity in China takes 18 months and roughly $200 000 of share capital. For a start-up or scale-up, those numbers don’t make sense, Hammell commented.

“With us, we can onboard employees within a couple of days, and they don’t have to pay that share capital. We’re also giving them the opportunity to be able to scale their businesses and create opportunities.”

Hammell explained that since the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot more people want to work from home or work remotely. One of the opportunities is to either go back to their home countries, or visit new countries, but they’re worried about the job market.

Some companies allow working from home, but moving out of country is not possible, he stated. “Those organisations can retain that talent with us because now that talent can move, to Nigeria or Kenya, Atlas will employ them on the organisation’s behalf in those particular countries.”

Atlas indicates SA and the MEA region play an important role in its growth plans, which is why it is putting a local senior leadership team in place to lead this growth.

The firm has appointed Nobuntu Ndlovu as its regional VP for marketing. Ndlovu, who has worked with start-ups and blue-chip companies, joins Lawrence Diamond, VP of business development, as well as a team of 25 employees at the local Atlas office.

Ndlovu expects demand from start-ups/scale-ups, technology and fintech companies seeking to expand abroad, or looking to invest into MEA markets.

“The Atlas platform empowers companies to expand their workforce without the need to spend large amounts of executive time on the administrative aspects of setting up a local entity and the associated legal, HR and payroll compliance.”

South African organisations can also become part of the Atlas global network and leverage the solutions the platform provides, she adds.

“There is also an opportunity to support regional companies looking to capitalise on the services digital nomads provide.”

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