In his State of the Nation address in 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised that government, in partnership with the private sector, would create no fewer than two million new jobs in the next decade to address the national unemployment crisis. Five years earlier, Aisha Pandor, CEO and co-founder of SweepSouth, was already using her entrepreneurial skills to tackle the problem.
SweepSouth, an online platform connecting homeowners and domestic cleaners, was founded in 2014 by Aisha and her husband Alen Ribic. Their vision for SweepSouth, was to create a business that provides a reliable service for customers who need their homes cleaned, but that also generates decent and dignified jobs for experienced and skilled domestic workers.
Pandor said although their tech business has grown tremendously in a short time, it wasn’t always easy. “We bootstrapped the business for the first year to 18 months, and we cashed in our savings and pensions,” she recalled in an interview on Power 98.7 FM. “We ended up selling our house, the contents of our house and I remember we were even selling my wedding ring.”
Three years later, her head is above the water with over 15,000 home cleaners and 100,000 customers across five major South African cities: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and Nelspruit.
The heart of the business, Pandor said, was to provide a platform for South African women to get dignified work at decent pay. Many of the cleaners who use the platform are the sole breadwinners of their families and SweepSouth has given them access to job opportunities through a few simple steps on a smartphone.
Besides creating jobs for South African women, Pandor is also an example of a successful and innovative entrepreneur in our country’s growing digital landscape. In 2017, her start-up was recognised by the World Economic Forum, which selected her as one of Africa’s breakthrough female innovators. SweepSouth was recognised for solving problems common on the African continent, such as unemployment and under employment among women, but also for giving more women access to technology.
“It wasn’t just about the technology itself, but actually about what that technology can do for women who may otherwise be excluded from the many benefits that technology can bring,” she told News24.
In June 2019, SweepSouth received a R30 million investment from Naspers Foundry, a R1.4 billion early-stage business initiative, aimed at furthering the South African technology sector.
“Aisha has joined a ground-breaking group of women-led tech businesses in the world and she has distinguished herself as a business person in terms of having been able to raise more than R75 million in funding. More importantly, SweepSouth has created much needed job opportunities in South Africa, and this is just one example of the kind of impactful business Naspers Foundry is proud to support,” said Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, CEO South Africa of Naspers, in an interview with ITWeb last year.
Pandor said the funding provided by Foundry would definitely see additional growth for SweepSouth and enable it to continue to modernise cleaning services, generate jobs, and uplift South African communities.
She said having proved SweepSouth was able to achieve its mission and to make a positive mark on domestic services and how they are conducted in South Africa, it was now looking to expand into other services and markets.
This post is sponsored by Naspers produced by Brandstudio24 for News24.