From domestic worker to industry pioneer

Lindiwe Shibambo From domestic worker to industry pioneer

Maid4u’s Lindiwe Shibambo, centre, with colleague at the Sapba Awards.

Since registering her business in 2008, a Gauteng businesswoman has created employment for more than 1 000 women through her domestic worker placement agency.

It’s no surprise then that her business scooped the Most Jobs Created and Best Performing Company award at the Shanduka Black Umbrellas awards in early 2013 and, more recently, the top SMME award at the second annual South African Premier Business Awards. The latter is an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry, Proudly South African and Brand SA to honour local small businesses.

Lindiwe Shibambo, says she entered the job market as a domestic worker, not out of choice, but because that was the only way she could earn money.

“I needed money to study and I could cook and clean,” says Shibambo.

Years later she worked at a bank and was always asked by colleagues and customers to refer them to a reliable domestic worker who could clean and take care of children.

She says it was only when she had her child that she realised the difficulty people faced when trying to find a reliable person who could clean and take care of their children. In three years, she hired and fired 12 domestic workers.

It was this struggle that led to the business idea of a domestic worker placement agency and Maid4u was born.

Through Maid4u Shibambo recruits unemployed women in rural and poverty-stricken areas with little or no skills and uses her story as a former domestic worker to illustrate the success that can be built from humble beginnings.

She levies a fee of about R200 for placement. For those that cannot pay the fee an agreement is made to subtract this amount from their first wage.

Training, which includes housekeeping and CPR, is provided free of charge.

Wages from clients are paid directly to Maid4u, but very little goes towards the business.

Shibambo says she started Maid4u while still employed and only left her job when she was accepted into Shanduka Black Umbrella’s business incubator programme.

“I registered the business in 2008, but we only went operational in 2010.

With 18 months’ experience working as a domestic worker I knew what the challenges were on both sides and could focus on creating the right environment for both the worker and the employer,” says Shibambo.

Shibambo explains that she has a strict screening process in place, where all the necessary checks are carried out regarding personality, maturity, discipline, checking for criminal records, identity documents among others.

She also approached the Department of Labour to assist her with learning more about employment guidelines so that she could ensure the rights of both her workers and their employers were protected.

A graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10 000 Women in Business programme run by the Gordon Institute of Business, Shibambo says her business has really taken off since she started.

“I am trying to contain it because I don’t have the capacity and need some funding,” she says of her business’s growth spurt.

Shibambo says the awards that she has received have re-energised her and she plans to continue to do what she has been doing even though her revenue remains small.

Department of Labour, Gordon Institute of Business, Lindiwe Shibambo,

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