SA home-cleaning startup secures R10m funding

Aisha R Pandor and Alen Ribic of SweepSouth. (SweepSouth)
Aisha R Pandor and Alen Ribic of SweepSouth. (SweepSouth)

Cape Town – Internet home-cleaning business SweepSouth says it has secured R10m in new funding from various sources.

SweepSouth is an online service that offers booking, managing and paying for home cleaning services. The business has operations in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria and matches cleaners with homes and offices, along the lines of Uber’s business model.

First National Bank (FNB) and Edge Growth's social venture capital fund Vumela as well as SweepSouth's existing investors - tech entrepreneur Vinny Lingham and Llew Claasen’s firm Newtown Partners - have provided the funding, said SweepSouth. 

“For now, we are focused on increasing market share in key South African cities,” SweepSouth chief executive Aisha Pandor told Fin24 about the funding injection.

“Having to overcome challenges relating to the use of public transport, increasing smartphone usage among cleaners, and trying to change the attitude and face of a very traditional and entrenched industry (domestic work), we believe that in the medium to long term, this platform will be equally successful in other emerging markets,” she added.

The lead investor at Edge Growth, Janice Johnston, explained why Vumela is supporting SweepSouth.

“The on-demand economy is a huge growth area because a lot of consumers’ needs can be far better served with tech-enabled, on-demand services. Uber is a great example of such innovation and we think SweepSouth is the Uber of cleaning in SA,” said lead investor Janice Johnston of Edge Growth.

Stem fields

READ: Start-ups need to focus on local solutions - Ericsson

Pandor - who holds a PhD in Human Genetics and a Business Management certificate from the UCT Graduate School of Business - responded to criticism that her startup was perpetuating a service industry rather than focusing on science technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) fields.

“The two shouldn't be mutually exclusive and we should be realistic about our population's current state of education and how our economy is currently structured.

“Focusing on Stem is extremely important, and we wouldn't have been able to build our platform without both co-founders having solid maths and/or technical skills, but focusing our solution on the service industry means we are helping to give work to hundreds of people who were previously unemployed, and who, when they were in the education system years ago, didn't themselves have the luxury of a good Stem education.

“Stem should be an enabler of progress for the service industry,” said Pandor.

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