Women’s Month always encourages a particular cause for reflection about SweepSouth, our founding story and the impact we have had and will maintain with women in our country. When my co-founder and myself started SweepSouth in 2014, we originally did so in answer to a personal need for the type of service we now provide. As homeowners and busy young professionals working 16 to 18-hour days, we balked at how difficult it was to connect to someone to help us with managing our home, despite understanding how many people must be looking for work in this sector.
However, as we went deeper into our search and spoke to more and more women in the industry, we realized that SweepSouth needed to be more than just a convenient way to find someone to assist with home cleaning. It needed to be a platform that through its novelty, ushered in a new way of thinking about domestic work that respected the dignity of people who do this work, helped to elevate their positions in society and in South African homes, and empathized with the incredible hard work and sacrifice that domestic workers, many of them mothers (97% in SweepSouth’s case), go through to put food on the table for their families.
Three years in and we have made some inroads. To date, SweepSouth has provided work opportunities to over 3,500 women in 4 South African cities, 74% of whom are primary breadwinners and 67% of whom are single moms. We provide work under flexible conditions that mean that family matters like school meetings and clinic appointments can be met without fear of negative repercussions. 98% of SweepStar moms say that working with the platform specifically (as opposed to other employment) has directly helped them with their role of being a mom. We have sought to find a balance between rates that can provide a decent income, whilst still being affordable to ordinary South Africans, and to take it a step further we brought in the ability to supplement SweepStar earnings with a discretionary tip for those who can afford to pay a little more.
We are proud of the work we’ve done so far and our plans involve providing access to more opportunities for our SweepStars to manage their homes and lives well and to up skill if they choose to do so. So we have big plans and we are charging ahead. Our wish for Women’s Day 2017 is that all South African women feel safe, protected and empowered, and have the opportunity to fulfill whatever life aspirations they have. As a company with a black female CEO, with a majority female management team, and almost 100% female SweepStar team, we are particularly committed to playing our role in helping to make this wish a reality.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “(We) pay tribute to the mothers and wives and sisters of our nation. You are the rock-hard foundation of our struggle.” Happy Women’s Day!