Startup pares back

SA Startup SweepSouth Quits Nigeria & Kenya Amid Economic Constraints

By  |  November 22, 2022

SweepSouth, the South African startup known for its online home services platform that provides on-demand home-cleaning services, is quitting the Nigerian and Kenyan markets months after launching in both countries.

The startup, which in the past year expanded beyond South Africa to three new African markets, has today announced the decision to exit Nigeria and Kenya by the end of the month, citing economic constraints in the case of the former.

This development – somewhat curiously – comes barely two months after SweepSouth announced an USD 11 M funding round which the company’s leadership had said would help to expand into new markets and grow its existing operation.

“SweepSouth Nigeria has made a very difficult decision to use our Nigerian operations effective November 25th, 2022,” the company revealed in a statement shared via SweepSouth Nigeria. “Due to the unfavourable global macroeconomic environment, the home service industry continues to be hit hard. This has meant our business cannot sustainably operate due to the economic pressures being faced at the moment.”

In the case of SweepSouth Kenya, a farewell montage was shared on its official Twitter handle with the message being “Kwaheri,” which is a Swahili term for goodbye.

The communication from SweepSouth also notes that pending bookings up to November 25th will be fulfilled while appropriate refunds will be made in cases where due. The startup also urges clients to feel to still reach out to SweepStars directly whenever they have need for their services. SweepStars is the collective name for SweepSouth’s group of vetted and trained home cleaning personnel.

Launched in South Africa in 2014 by the couple duo Aisha R. Pandor and Alen Ribić, SweepSouth has become a well-known online platform providing on-demand home cleaning services, operating across various South African cities. The startup has raised significant funding, including from Naspers and Alitheia IDF, and seemed to be on a pan-African expansion drive over the past year.

It would appear that the company has now opted to pull back on its newer conquests, collapsing operations in East Africa and West Africa while doubling down on its cornerstone market, South Africa, as well as deepening its presence in the Egyptian market where it made a notable entry last December with the acquisition of Filkhedmha, considered the largest home services marketplace in Egypt, in what one of the co-founders Ribić has previously described as a multi-million dollar deal. SweepSouth did mention that its focus will now be on South Africa and Egypt.

SweepSouth officially launched its services in Nigeria in June this year, having tested the service in the country’s commercial nerve, Lagos, since September 2021, a period during which it saw more than 300 bookings.

In a conversation with WT which took place at the time of its official rollout in Africa’s most populous nation, Country Manager Awazi Angbalaga said SweepSouth Nigeria had signed up more than a dozen SweepStars and the service was attracting a growing clientele.

Clients of SweepStars Nigeria who spoke to WT cited convenience, affordability, and reliable service as a big pull and SweepStars declared expressed great satisfaction with the flexible work structure and upscaled pay. But SweepSouth would pause signing up new SweepStars in September, citing an oversupply in the face of the scale of demand at the time.

The decision to quit Nigeria has been blamed on the dire economic situation which is being felt across the globe and across industries, though difficulties in achieving reasonable scale in Nigeria could be part of the issue. In any case, the startup does not rule out making a comeback pending when conditions become more favourable in Nigeria.

SweepSouth had before the Nigeria experiment formally launched in Kenya back in February after a period of testing that began last year. However, the startup is now also backing out of the Kenyan market which was revealed to be contributing around 2 percent of company revenue as of the end of last year, despite only being in its testing phase.

SweepSouth Kenya claims it had 150+ SweepStars and cleaned 15,000+ homes while serving 5,000+ customers during its short spell in the country, indicating some traction. But the decision to pull out seems grounded in what the company’s leadership has deemed the shrewd approach amid economic uncertainty.

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