“I am not stressed about finding work, I am earning enough money to pay for my studies, and I am able to work around my studies ‒ so I can achieve my dreams.” This quote is from Sihle, whose path was changed because she had access to an employment opportunity.
However, Sihle’s sentiments are not reflective of many South Africans today. With one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, South Africans need access to job opportunities and support to inspire future employment.
At the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, we’ve seen families take the first step to access employment, and then feel empowered to go further – resulting in better education and futures for their children. Through partnerships with organisations providing opportunities for those seeking out and interested in taking on work, we aim to create family economic stability. The most effective opportunities provide an income and have the capability to accelerate credible experience that leads to ongoing and future employment.
Our collaboration with SweepSouth
As an “impact-first investor” driven by our MISSION framework, we consider the special role impact investing can have in creating social impact for the people we serve. When considering these opportunities for investment, we anchor our collaborations around three parameters – impact, scale, and sustainability. We ask ourselves questions like, “will this partnership unlock opportunities to solve social problems at scale?” and “will this provide our beneficiaries with a solution that provides continued growth?”
Guided by this MISSION framework – which has led us to more than 40 investments across the areas of education and family economic stability – we recently made an investment in SweepSouth. SweepSouth is an online service that connects domestic cleaners to homeowners, providing a commission for each hour of service that contractors like Sihle provide. The SweepSouth founders have based the organisation in the philosophy that it needs to be about more than just helping people find assistance with home-cleaning. The company not only understands the importance of creating job opportunities through its platform but does so in a way that respects the dignity of workers and allows them to dictate their own schedules.
In short, SweepSouth removes friction in two ways – connecting those who want to work with jobs and wages for their hours worked, and creating a fully vetted, credible cleaning service available for those interested in procuring domestic workers.
SweepStars: empowered to take the next step
SweepSouth has demonstrated impact on job creation among key demographics in South Africa – 97% of their contractors have children, and over 80% were previously unemployed. They’ve created jobs that are within reach and provide a sense of empowerment that allows continued growth.
The most effective way to illustrate the positive effects of the company is by introducing some of their contractors – called SweepStars – who have seized their current roles and are utilizing their experience to open future doors.
As you’ll note in the below stories, what might seem like a smaller step for some creates a much larger change in the lives of those involved. Stories like these are what motivates our work across our foundation, and keeps our MISSION growing.
Mother of two, Sihle’s dream is to open her own laundromat. After five years working as a cleaner, she joined the SweepSouth platform and consistently ranks as one of the top-rated cleaners. She is studying bookkeeping online, and typically has to travel up to 25 km to the homes she cleans. With her income and her husband’s, the couple support eight people. For her, every cent earned is a step towards opening her laundromat.
“Working through the SweepSouth platform, I’ve got more access to work as they can connect me to jobs every day of the week,” she says.
Talent had skills in and passion for software development and coding, but found limited work in her field. She joined SweepSouth to earn an income while she looked for development work.
Talent had a regular customer named Darryn who was a software developer, and one day he and Talent had a discussion about coding. Darryn realised that Talent had ample skills and let the SweepSouth management team know she had more to offer. Talent came in for an interview and impressed the team, and soon after secured a position as a SweepSouth software developer.
“I love being on a computer more than being with my friends, in fact, computers are my friends,” she says.
Sihle and Talent are just two examples of the power employment can have on families living in South Africa. Investing in employment opportunities can lead to even larger opportunities over time, so it’s an investment that pays off in dividends.