RMB Solutionist Thinking is a podcast series hosted by Bruce Whitfield which focusses on great South African minds thinking differently and going against the norm. In this episode in the second series, Whitfield interviews award-winning South African scientist, businesswoman and Chief Executive of SweepSouth, Aisha Pandor.
Born and raised in a family of highly-educated teachers, lawyers and political activists in exile in Botswana, Aisha Pandor's background and healthy curiosity made her question everything. When she returned to South Africa with her mother (Higher Education Minister, Naledi Pandor) and siblings, leaving her father behind – Aisha started her schooling in Cape Town as one of the first black students in an all-white school, determined to excel.
Testament to her tenacity and in a rare feat, Aisha Pandor earned her PhD in Human Genetics and diploma in Business Management, at the same university, on the same day. This, all while caring for a young baby at home.
Life was hectic for the new parents.
So, when their helper called them up, with short notice, to let them know that she wouldn't be able to make it, their frantic search for a temporary, trustworthy domestic worker sparked a bright idea that would see them raking up a revenue of over R100 million just five years later.
Aisha Pandor, in tandem with her husband, Alen Ribic took a huge leap of faith when they poured in their savings to pioneer, SweepSouth – tackling unemployment, filling a technological gap and revolutionising an under-appreciated domestic cleaning industry.
Pandor co-founded SweepSouth and became one of very few black, female tech-startup chief executives in South Africa.
Sweep South’s broader vision, I think people first and foremost need access to work. I think, they need free access to work. I think, if you're able and if you have skills that you can provide, I think, you have the right to earn for those skills.— Dr. Aisha Pandor, co-founder and Chief Executive – Sweep South
The app allows homeowners to book trusted, vetted and experienced cleaners for dignified work opportunities at affordable rates. Like Uber, the cleaners are not directly employed by SweepSouth but, simply use the platform to receive cleaning jobs.
We are satisfied is that we know that we're paying above what an average middle-class South African is paying in an urban area and, in some cases Sweep Stars are getting paid double that.— Dr. Aisha Pandor, co-founder and Chief Executive – Sweep South
One of the fastest-growing startups in South Africa – the award-winning Uber-like digital platform is providing work opportunities to thousands of unemployed and underemployed, experienced domestic workers in the country.
We have Sweep Stars who are earning up to R8000 a month on the platform... and, that compared to South Africa's minimum wage for domestic workers is about R1500, R1600 a month in rural areas and urban areas about R2600 a month. On average, in an area like Green Point or Sandton or you know, in an upper-middle-class area people are paying around R3000 a month.— Dr. Aisha Pandor, co-founder and Chief Executive – Sweep South
Five years later – and, still determined to address the high levels of inequality, Aisha has her sight set on other markets. She plans to scale both locally and internationally, expanding the digital service into the builders, bricklayers and tilers market, creating earning opportunities for skilled labourers battling to find work.
These people are standing outside... trying to advertise their services and, there's the opportunity for SweepSouth to connect those people to earnings opportunities.— Dr. Aisha Pandor, co-founder and Chief Executive – Sweep South