28 January 2016
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SweepSouth has received a boost for business from First National Bank’s Vumela Enterprise Fund and other investors. The company has secured R10-million in venture capital to expand the business across the country and secure plans to take the idea global.
The South African home and corporate cleaning business was launched in 2014 by management consultant Aisha Pandor and software developer Alen Ribic. Much like the popular Uber lift-sharing and Airbnb accommodation apps, SweepSouth uses new media technology to supply online, on-demand home and business cleaning services.
Pandor describes SweepSouth as an accessible platform for booking, managing and paying for cleaning services. The online, app-based platform connects clients with reliable, diligently vetted cleaning staff at affordable rates.
“SweepSouth was founded on the belief that the home cleaning industry needed modernisation through technology as well as a change in mind-set towards the belief that everyone deserves access to dignified work at decent pay,” says Pandor.
The funding comes from the Vumela Fund, as well as from the company’s existing investors, namely technology entrepreneur Vinny Lingham and Newtown Partners.
The Vumela Fund, which was launched in 2010 to “create economic opportunities through high-impact entrepreneurship and job creation”, is capitalised by FirstRand Group and the Jobs Fund, and is managed by First National Bank (FNB) in an alliance with Edge Growth, an enterprise and supplier development specialist firm.
The alliance focuses on helping small companies through its scale-up development phase and, to date, has almost R400-million in funds under management invested in various businesses in South Africa.
Janice Johnston, the lead investor at Edge Growth, calls SweepSouth a dynamic and creative concept, adding that “the on-demand economy is a huge growth area, because a lot of consumers’ needs can be far better served with tech-enabled, on- demand services”.
Pandor calls the Edge Growth investment in SweepSouth a vote of confidence in the South African entrepreneurial spirit. “It is an experienced and respected investor [that] shares our passion for job creation and social transformation. We’ve loved interacting with their team and are excited about utilising this investment to continue our rapid growth and create sustainable work for thousands of cleaners in the next year.”
In 2015, SweepSouth was the first local company to be selected to participate in 500 Startups, a venture capital fund and start-up accelerator in Silicon Valley in the US.
“SweepSouth has created thousands of job opportunities in the last few months for women, the vast majority of whom were unemployed, resulting in more than 100 000 hours of cleaning being completed over this time,” Pandor said when presenting the concept to 500 Startups.
The company is also part of the Microsoft BizSpark Programme, which supports small business with free software services. It was also named as one of the top five tech start-ups in the country by Ventureburn website in 2015.