SweepSouth to rake in R100m revenue

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 20 Dec 2018
SweepSouth co-founders Alen Ribic (left) and Aisha Pandor (right)
SweepSouth co-founders Alen Ribic (left) and Aisha Pandor (right)

Home cleaning services app SweepSouth is expecting to post a top line revenue of R100 million by the end of the financial year, as demand for its services increases across SA.

The Cape Town-based start-up, launched in 2014 by co-founders Aisha Pandor (CEO) and Alen Ribic (CTO), allows users to book and pay for cleaning services by connecting them with domestic workers.

Pandor told ITWeb that the mobile and Web-based app has seen significant growth since inception, creating employment for over 10 000 workers who were previously unemployed or under-employed, and has paid out millions of rands in salaries.

"We have provided employment opportunities for thousands of 'SweepStars' [cleaners] on our platform who are predominantly single mothers with many dependents. What is also important to us is the broader impact that SweepSouth has made in the local home cleaning industry, which required modernisation through technology," explains Pandor.

"SA has over 1 million domestic workers who deserve access to dignified work and decent pay. At the same time there are many home owners seeking reliable cleaning services but didn't know where to look."

40 000 active users

The SweepSouth app has had over 150 000 downloads to date, with over 40 000 active users.

The company currently employs around 40 employees, who focus on the execution of SweepSouth's strategy.

"We have cleaned over 100 000 homes across SA. Over and above providing employment opportunities, we also provide value to our SweepStars. Over 85% of them say they prefer working on the platform rather than having long-term permanent employment because of the flexibility and independence associated with it. Furthermore, they can earn up to R8 000 per month, including tips - more than double the earnings of an average domestic worker in SA."

While the company is bringing in great revenue, it is not yet a profitable business as all the sales go back into the business to fuel growth.

Aisha Pandor, co-founder and CEO of SweepSouth

Last year SweepSouth partnered with insure-tech firm Simply Financial Services to provide free life and disability insurance products to its cleaners. The company also collaborated with non-profit organisation Afrika Tikkun to provide cleaners with educational courses focused on career guidance and early childhood development for mothers.

Funding boost

Last May, SweepSouth concluded its third funding round, led by international retail solutions company Smollan. The undisclosed amount was used to fuel growth and extend services in the four cities where it operates - Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban.

At around the same time the company also received funding from Draper Dark Flow, the Silicon Valley venture capital (VC) fund for Africa, established by venture capital investor, Tim Draper.

"Investments have been the 'rocket ship' that helped SweepSouth fuel growth. Typically in tech -start-up investments, the majority of venture capital firms are interested in doing equity based deals and that's the case with the funding that we've raised over the years," notes Pandor.

"While we have benefitted from the experience and expertise shared by our investors, we've also seen some of them get up to 12 times more than what they had initially invested, so they've had great returns on their investments."

Previous funders include the Vumela Fund, which injected R10m in 2016, and blockchain investment and advisory services firm, Newtown Partners, owned by ,Vinny Lingham and Llew Claasen, which invested in SweepSouth during its early stages.

While SweepSouth has seen fast growth in its four years of existence, Pandor says the company has had its fair share of unforeseen challenges.

"There have been phases where the fast growth rate has brought unforeseen challenges in certain areas, for instance in making sure that we have enough team members and workers available to can handle a surge in customers. We also have to ensure that the platform enables us to bring on more SweepStars.

"While the company is bringing in great revenue, it is not yet a profitable business as all the sales go back into the business to fuel growth."

Africa expansion

From early next year, SweepSouth will be launching additional services on the platform, as the company also eyes expansion into other African markets.

"There are many skilled people in SA who need employment opportunities so we will be adding additional services such as plumbing, electrical, gardening, carpet and window cleaning services which we have already started working on, and I'm really excited about our future plans.

"We are also looking at expanding SweepSouth to other markets such as Kenya as we see ourselves as an emerging market-focused platform that aims to serve the many professionals who don't have the time to source the services we provide," concludes Pandor.