At SweepSouth we had, as sure we’re sure many of you had, big plans for 2020. Our Connect App officially went live, and we were in the swing of full year planning. We had high hopes and big dreams for how our services were going to continue to improve the lives of clients and SweepStars alike.
But COVID-19 hit the world, and it hit South Africa sooner than we expected it to. Lockdown was initiated and our world stopped. As anticipated, the economy took a dive, and as we found out in our 3rd Annual SweepSouth Report on Pay and Working Conditions for Domestic Work in South Africa, many domestic workers’ livelihoods were put at risk. While 63% of domestic workers earned more than R2500 per month at the beginning of 2020, lockdown reduced this amount significantly to only 26%.
While we’re back to an adjusted level three and this year has sure been full of downs, we managed to pull off a number of ups too, and ended the year off with a (socially distanced) bang.
While March and April saw us cancel all bookings, we started putting together a SweepStar fund to mitigate as much of their financial losses as possible. Thanks to the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), who seeded the fund with R6M, we hit the ground running. These two months were spent trying our best to work out our next steps, and how long our services would be prohibited for.
It was tough. Level 5 lockdown saw homeschooling become the norm for parents, and many of us exhausted our cooking and baking skills as we waited for President Cyril Ramaphosa to give us updates. We turned our attention online, and Google’s Annual Year in Search 2020 revealed, not surprisingly, that the top trending search terms of the year included ‘coronavirus’, ‘how to apply for an unemployment grant?’ and ‘what time is the president on tonight?’. When we weren’t fixating on the pandemic, the trend report shows that we turned to rather strange homemade brews with searches for ‘pineapple beer recipe’, and yearning for freedom with travel searches like ‘trip to Mauritius’.
The following months took a more positive turn. May saw heavy lockdown being lifted, and some sort of economic activity start up again. Despite our services being limited, our online shop continued to do well, and we launched our Outdoor and Commercial & Sanitisation Cleaning services. On top of that, SweepStars who had child care experience could return to work. June was another turning point, and as a new lighter level began, we saw your immense support for our SweepStars. Bookings increased to over 50% in June, and we hit our funding goal of R12M.
As we excitedly watched SweepStars get back to work over the next few months, we also got to celebrate a milestone! Our one millionth home clean was booked. This meant so much to us, knowing our service was valued to customers, but also knowing we’d been able to provide one million work opportunities to SweepStars. Getting back to work felt great.
Now we’re at the end of December, we’re almost at the 2020 finish line. While life isn’t completely back to normal by a long shot, we are so grateful for what we have managed to achieve this year despite the madness of COVID-19. We are also so grateful for you. As our clients, you have not only kept yourselves going, but also SweepStars, through this difficult time.
To end off our year on as positive a note as possible, we launched a couple of extra features that we are very proud of. Clients can now share their recommended SweepStar’s profile, helping family and friends find the right SweepStar for their home needs. And alongside our mission to continue to support SweepStars, we increased our tipping cap to R500. You can now support your SweepStar a little bit more over this festive season, within 30 days of your booking.
Looking back on 2020 — an immensely challenging year — we are proud to have been able to continue to connect you with trusted home cleaning professionals, while providing dignified work opportunities to thousands of SweepStars.