Aisha Pandor: The Uber of cleaning
DURBAN - A CAPE Town businesswoman is reinventing the wheel for domestic workers with her Uber-like digital platform, which allows homeowners to request cleaning services at the touch of a button on a smartphone or laptop.
Dr Aisha Pandor, 32, the daughter of Energy Minister Naledi Pandor and the founder of SweepSouth, has run the digital service with her husband, Alen Ribic, for three years.
Speaking to the Sunday Tribune on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Africa in Durban this week, Pandor, who was raised in Botswana due to exile and who now holds a PhD in Human Genetics, said the reception for the platform had been “fantastic”.
SweepSouth has 3 000 registered domestic workers in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and, recently, Durban. People looking for work on the platform are vetted, as are the potential clients, to ensure a safe environment for all operating on the platform.
“We started with a concept we had through our own experience and we had an idea,” she said.
The couple had struggled to secure a domestic worker from referrals, listings and classifieds in December, 2013 and, after agonising over the idea for weeks, conducted a survey among friends.
“In just over three years it (the service) has grown. We felt it would serve a need,” she said.
Hiring a domestic worker on the platform costs clients R38 an hour for household cleaning; domestic workers keep 65% to 80% of the rate, as well as all tips from clients.
Pandor said she planned to expand beyond cleaning, branching out into supplying pool and garden services, as well as plumbing and electrical.
“For now it’s just cleaning, ironing, cupboard cleaning and organising around the house. When we launched, we wanted to be focused on doing one thing well and intended to expand once we got a foot in the door and got people familiar with the concept.”
“We see SweepSouth becoming a household name in Africa and other emerging markets. We see our company being recognised for work that promotes women and decent pay,” she said.
“We want to take the tech company to a stage where we are able to predictively help you manage what you need in your home. We want to be able to say: ‘Hey, you’ve been a customer of ours for a year, we know you have a garden that hasn’t been serviced in two weeks, how about having someone come in – we'll organise it for you’,” she said.
Pandor said they had recently launched in Durban and were slowly penetrating the market.
The typical profile of a domestic worker (or sweepstar, to use the company name) on the platform was female, 60% aged between 18 and 35, mostly mothers.
Pandor said they had received applications from men, but most were rejected as they lacked experience.
“Everyone has to be experienced – 70% are unemployed and 30% under-employed, which means they are working once or twice a week and don’t make ends meet.”
This month marks more than a million hours of cleaning and 200 000 bookings for the company.
• The app is available on Google Play/Apple App Store: SweepSouth. To get a discount on the app or www.sweepsouth.com, enter the code “DurbanSweep” (Durban users only).