Naspers SA boss heaps praise on SweepSouth

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Naspers SA CEO Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa.
Naspers SA CEO Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa.

SweepSouth has joined an elite group of women-led tech start-ups that have managed to raise $5 million (R75 million) funding for their ventures globally.

This is according to Naspers SA CEO Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa, who says SweepSouth co-founder Aisha Pandor has distinguished herself as a business person.

Pandor and Alen Ribec, with whom she co-founded SweepSouth in 2014, have received praise from Naspers for their tenacity and vision.

SweepSouth is an online cleaning services platform that connects clients with domestic cleaners. The cleaners, known as “SweepStars”, have flexibility over their hours and availability, and benefit from pay rates significantly higher than the national minimum wage.

The tech start-up is now on the verge of going global.

Mahanyele-Dabengwa says the international Internet company will keep supporting her to grow the business.

“Aisha is now one of the leading women in the world in terms of having been able to raise more than $5 million and so we are really proud of what she is doing.”

In June, Naspers injected R30 million into SweepSouth through its R1.4 billion start-up fund.

The fund, Naspers Foundry, helps talented and ambitious South African technology entrepreneurs to develop and grow their businesses.

“One of the things that attracted us to this transaction is that it’s a business supporting the most challenged people that we have here in South Africa. They provide one of the best solutions that you will ever have and that is not only applicable here in South Africa but across the globe.”

Mahanyele-Dabengwa adds: “In the Foundry, we have access to R1.4 billion over the next three years and we are focusing on investing that as soon as we possibly can.

“It is important to us that we invest in local entrepreneurs looking at locally-focused businesses. We will scale them globally but we need to make sure they have a local focus as well.”

About 15 000 domestic workers have already been linked with jobs via SweepSouth.

“We are looking at a way we can continue to create jobs, economic growth and in line with what the government is doing. The government has put out a very clear message of being focused on 4IR [fourth industrial revolution],” says Mahanyele-Dabengwa.

This week, SweepSouth received additional funding from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which has invested $1 million (R15 million) into the company.

SweepSouth co-founders Alen Ribec and Aisha Pandor.
SweepSouth co-founders Alen Ribec and Aisha Pandor.

Current investors in the company include Smollan, Vumela, CRE VC (previously Africa Angels Network), and musician and venture capitalist Black Coffee.

Marking her 100 days since taking over as Naspers boss in SA, Mahanyele-Dabengwa says her group is set to unveil new investments before the end of the year.

"We are working on a number of transactions that we need to conclude before December.”

She adds that a formal announcement will be made soon.

Meanwhile, speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Naspers chief executive Bob van Dijk said Naspers is now a 100% digital company and has increased shareholder value after offloading non-core assets.

The company’s latest plans include African expansion, according to Van Dijk, though he cautioned the main focus is SA and Kenya.

“South Africa is ahead of the rest of the continent, but the wave will come, making Africa an investment destination.”

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