When we came up with the concept for SweepSouth in December 2013, we did so after experiencing the inefficiencies that exist in the domestic services industry in South Africa. Through our conversations with domestic workers then, we additionally realized that in many ways, this sector had remained unchanged in practice and attitude, despite the societal progress that South Africa has made since 1994.
At SweepSouth, our mission is to create happy homes by providing dignified, flexible work at decent pay to our SweepStars; and a hassle-free and reliable service that gives time back to our clients. Our SweepStars can dictate where and when they would like to work, earn up to 80% of the booking fee (plus tips), and learn to use technology to unlock the power of a device like a smartphone, so that it becomes a tool that can bring income to their families. This impact on wider communities is something we are especially proud of, with 74% of our SweepStars being primary breadwinners at home. Of the thousands of SweepStars we’ve already given work opportunities to via our platform, 71% were previously unemployed while 29% were underemployed, evidence of the real impact we’re having on creating employment.
Apart from pay, SweepSouth is about changing attitudes. Part of this includes the language we use. Moving away from loaded terms like “maid” and “char”, we’ve taken the approach of a fresh start with the term “SweepStar” to describe the people at the centre of what we do. We are uplifted each time we see our SweepStars referred to in this way, as it represents how a positive idea can take shape and can change negative language that has been deeply entrenched.
Despite the Odds
SweepSouth is a young company, and we still have a lot to do. We face challenges that have existed for decades and even centuries, including socioeconomic issues, domestic problems that some of our SweepStars face that can make it almost impossible for them to consistently provide 5-star service, unreliable public transport and poor infrastructure, and national pay levels for this service that don’t accurately reflect the huge value that domestic workers contribute to our economy and to homes across the globe.
We’re encouraged by the work that we’ve already done despite our young age, and by the amazing support that we’ve enjoyed both nationally and internationally. We’re confident about being able to achieve our mission and to make a positive and indelible mark on domestic services and how they are carried out, not only in South Africa, but in many other markets worldwide.