African Press Association

Mobile app empowers SA domestic workers



JOHANNESBURG – A friendship started at university, enhanced by a shared passion about the technology industry as well as a devotion to empowering domestic workers has culminated in the creation of hundreds of jobs for South African cleaners and a reliable service for homeowners.

Domestly, the award-winning technology application developed by co-founders, Thatoyoana Marumo and Berno Potgieters, has created more than 600 jobs in the last nine months and aims to create another 1 500 jobs within the next 12 months.

The pair met while studying at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape.

Both had a dream and vision of one day starting their own business.

Potgieters studied at the University of Stellenbosch majoring in Engineering. The idea and concept for an on-demand cleaning application was born in 2014 when he returned home to Port Elizabeth for the June holidays and wanted to help their domestic worker, Victoria Ngetu, who had been working for his family for over 12 years, find new job opportunities.

He thus created the Domestly app, to help connect cleaners and consumers in an easy and reliable way.

Potgieters moved the idea from PE to the Cape and the rest, as they say, is history.

Domestly has officially launched the service in Johannesburg North, making it available in Cape Town, Rosebank, Fourways and Sandton. The company is set to launch in Pretoria, Midrand and Centurion in the upcoming months.

“I realised that an opportunity existed to create an online space where cleaning professionals could market their skills to potential employers, and employers could find a reliable, vetted cleaner who fitted their budget and cleaning requirements,” said Potgieters.

Co-founder Marumo is driven by introducing “disruptive technology” and taking on competition.

He has both start-up and corporate experience.

“By working with professional cleaners and cleaning teams, Domestly is making housekeeping more accessible to everyone, while creating business opportunities for cleaners. And with the launch of our app, we’re pulling the whole industry together on one platform and changing it forever,” said Marumo.

The pair said at Domestly, they are a group of individuals who are excited about “disrupting a stagnating industry by incorporating technology.”

“We are constantly asking the question: How do we make things better?”

“We are very involved in job creation in South Africa as well as giving back to our community. By connecting the cleaning professionals directly to homeowners, Domestly makes housekeeping more affordable and accessible to everyone,” they said.

Apart from creating happy homeowners, Domestly also uplifts and empower South African women who are unemployed or underemployed.

While it is one of the biggest employers in the country historically however, the industry has had very little to do with helping cleaners take charge of their lives and futures, and for many, cleaning has simply become a way to support families mostly for women unable to find other employment.

“Domestly cleaners can set their own rates. Not only does this offer the customers a range of rates to choose from, but it also allows the cleaner to control her earning power.”

Originally from Malawi, Cynthia Mphako, is one of the beneficiaries.

Her cleaning career commenced in the United Kingdom when she started working at an agency.

The tragic passing of her parents in 2013 forced to leave her husband and children and move back to Africa in order to take care of family affairs.

With no prospect of employment in Malawi, she moved to South Africa in the hope of finding work.

For over a year Cynthia applied for positions as a cleaner but to no avail until she applied to work on the Domestly platform.

She is enjoying a new lease of life and become one of the most sought after Domestly cleaners.

“South Africans have much higher standards and expectations (than London), which I love to exceed,” she said.

The app has been duly recognized for its contribution to employment creation.

Among the accolades is its ranking as among the top five startup companies in South Africa and ultimately, the overall winner in the recently-concluded MTN Business App of the Year Awards held in Johannesburg.

“We cannot begin to describe how ecstatic we are to have won the MTN App of the Year awards for 2016. We’ve been blown away by all the support and congratulatory messages we have received,” the co-founders said.

Potgieters said what made the recognition pleasant was the quality of the nominees that were also in the running.

“It gives us the recognition and awareness to really take Domestly to the next level and create many more job opportunities,” he said.

Marumo said winning the best consumer app category validated Domestly managed to create a great lifestyle tool for the busy city user.

“…and in turn, creating an application that is also a catalyst for social and economical change.”

– CAJ News / APA