Many domestic workers across South Africa will have soon endured two months without earning a wage, as a consequence of restrictions stemming from the extended nationwide lockdown. Domestic workers, who are typically the sole providers for their families, face the worsening prospect of an impoverished existence and small hope of jobs to return to, even after current lockdown levels are eased. Since the Government implemented restrictions on all but essential workers on 26 March 2020, online cleaning platform SweepSouth has urged businesses and households across the country to continue paying their furloughed domestic workers, for them to attain basic standards of living.
Also, SweepSouth launched the COVID-19 SweepStar Fund on 6 April 2020, to assist active domestic workers registered on its site. SweepSouth now calls upon financially able South Africans to pledge additional support, where possible, to extend the fund’s activities for a further six weeks. Without additional backing, SweepSouth may be forced to halve the current payment amounts disbursed to SweepStars, to prolong the vital assistance the fund is providing to many of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
SweepSouth, the online cleaning platform connecting domestic workers with employers, established the fund in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) to assist SweepStars unable to work and earn a wage during the nationwide lockdown. MSDF seeded the fund with an R6 million contribution, which has since been boosted by additional generous contributions by local businesses and the general public, increasing the value of the fund to R8.9 million as of the date of this release.
Raising the sum of R8.9 million for the fund amid South Africa’s current economic woes proved extremely challenging, but was possible due to the generosity of various donors. The distribution of the fund has enabled SweepStars to receive weekly financial top-ups between R150 and R450 over the past six weeks. However, as the country’s severe economic constraints continue to weigh heavily on consumers additional fundraising capacity has slowed making it difficult for SweepSouth to attain the target fund amount of amassing R12 million for the SweepSouth COVID-19 SweepStar Fund.
SweepSouth co-founder and CEO, Aisha Pandor, says that the response by South Africans in providing support has been phenomenal, and appeals to potential donors who can pledge additional support.
“SweepSouth extends its most heartfelt thanks to those who have contributed to the support of domestic workers across the country, as well as to those who have provided support for the SweepStar fund. Our aim of raising R12 million is a principal focus but to meet this target and contribute to SweepStars’ living costs for an additional six weeks, we appeal to businesses and the public for further assistance. Although we aim to maintain consistent payments to SweepStars during the lockdown period, we want to avoid having to reduce weekly payout amounts. Further support by donors will reinforce the impactful contributions that are helping domestic workers, their children, and families to survive during this desperate period.”
Pandor hastens to add that SweepSouth already has conversations underway with additional potential financial partners to buoy the SweepStar Fund further, but that additional buy-in from the general public is crucial.
“The vast majority of businesses in South Africa are having to contend with notably lower turnover, compared to their normal expected range, as well as pauses in trading in many instances,” Pandor continued. “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of South Africans, so many of whom are under immense financial pressure and face increasing employment insecurity and are immensely grateful for their efforts so far. We are using all available avenues to gain additional support during this extremely challenging time.”
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