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Defeating the dirt

Defeating the dirt

Keeping a clean home while you have a full-time job can be a daunting task, especially when you have young children.

This is one of the reasons, Kitso Senoware started Natty Home cleaning services to help keep houses and offices in Maun and Gantsi areas tidy for a minimal fee.

In fact, she supplies housekeepers and maids to anywhere around the country at a very reasonable fee.

Having graduated from University of Botswana (UB) in a Tourism and Hospitality field in 2014, Senoware found herself stuck at home for two years due to the high unemployment rate and the saturated job market in her field of training.

The only available jobs then, she says, were housemaids.

In this interview, she tells FRANCINAH BAAITSE-MMANA about her liberating journey to financial independence.

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Q. Tell us about your business and how it differs from other cleaning companies?

I don’t only clean offices but I clean homes at very affordable fees.

I also have well-trained housekeepers who provide professional services.

They do house sitting, babysitting, part-time home cleaning, two or three times a week and laundry services.

Most other cleaning businesses are focused on commercial, that is, office and industrial cleaning.

Q. How viable is this business?

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It is a good-paying job, not bad at all.

It is just that people are not used to getting house helpers from the office.

But those who get them are always happy because ours are trained, we teach them communication skills and rules of hospitality.

We also teach them about labour laws, their rights and the rights of their employers.

We run a very professional business.

Q. How many employees do you have?

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I have 28 staff members at the moment.

Right now I have two in Gaborone, three in Gantsi, two in Orapa and the other one works for the former speaker of Parliament, Gladys Kokorwe.

She is one of our biggest clients.

The rest of the staff members are in Maun.

Q. Having graduated in Tourism and Hospitality Management, why did you choose cleaning services as a career?

I graduated in 2014 but I couldn’t find a job.

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I stayed home for two good years and I was very frustrated.

Where I stayed in Mogoditshane there were many Zimbabwean ladies who worked as domestic workers and they would often invite me to find a job as a housemaid to while away time.

However, when I asked about the job requirements, I realised they were mostly mistreated and exploited by their employers.

That is when the idea of starting this business began.

I advertised it on a women’s only Facebook page, ‘Motherhood’ and I got a lot of responses from all over the country.

As they say, the rest is history.

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I use the skills I acquired through Hospitality training to train the ladies and our clients like our services.

Q. With issues of gender-based violence making headlines every week, how vulnerable are your girls?

They are very vulnerable, but we have trained them to report any such incidents.

The most common is sexual abuse.

Personally, I went through that.

When we launched the company, I did the first jobs.

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Male customers would say, “I want you, in particular, to come and clean the house for me,” but when I get there he would try to get me into the bedroom!

My employees have suffered the same.

In one incident a certain man gave one of the ladies P200 and then afterwards demanded to take her to the bedroom.

In some cases, married men would make sexual moves on the ladies, but we have trained them to stand up for themselves.

There are so many incidents of this nature.

Q. So how do you deal with these issues, do you rather lose the employment contract?

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That’s one of the challenges in this business.

Some of the contracts are terminated immediately.

In most of the cases, however, we do talk to the perpetrators and most of the time they stop the abuse because the common perpetrators are married men.

Usually, it is the wives who come looking for house helpers and it becomes very difficult to tell them what their husbands are trying to do behind their backs so we target the man, who is the perpetrator and he stops.

Q. How has this business changed your life?

It has changed my life a lot.

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The way I clean at home is different because I train some of the ladies right in my house.

Sometimes I go with them into the field.

Ours requires a lot of practicals.

Before this, I was a struggling single mother without an income, but now I am proud to say I am comfortable and have managed to open other businesses on the side.

I have an Orange Money kiosk, I am a tender lady, I do supplies and run movies every Saturday at Nhabe Museum.

Q. You are a busy woman indeed! So where do you see your business in five years time?

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I have so far managed to get myself a residential plot, which I would have built my desired house by then.

I want to open offices in Kasane and Gantsi as well because the demand is there.

Q. What business lessons can you share with other young people out there?

Starting this business proved that it is not all about money.

If you go into it and do it to help other people, then you cannot go wrong.

Offer your services with love and patience and money will follow you.

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