SweepSouth, Afrika's largest on-demand home cleaning services application, has announced the closure of its operations in Nigeria.
Founded in December 2013,SweepSouth made news after raising an outstanding $17 million in 7 funding rounds from 18 investors, including Naspers Foundry, Prosus Ventures, Futuregrwth Asset Management, Endeavor Catalyst, and Newton Partners.
Sweep South claimed an average of 50,000 cleaning service reservations were being made every month following its successful adoption in Johannesburg and Cape Town. SweepSouth made news again, following its purchase of Cairo-based start-up Filkhedma. Similar to SweepSouth, Filkhedma is a home service marketplace that provides cleaning, maintenance, and beautification services to thousands of consumers throughout three Egyptian cities.
June 2022, SweepSouth announced their plans to conquer the continent, with an expansion to the Nigerian market. Two months prior to the decision, SweepSouth had been secretly running test services in Nigeria.
“Although we’ve largely been testing out our service here, we have already had our first 300 bookings, and the feedback we’ve received backs our belief that our proposition is compelling to Nigerians. While we’re growing our bookings every week, our focus continues to be providing the best service to our customers,” said Awazi Angbalaga, country manager.
Trouble in Nigeria
During the announcement of Sweep South shutdown, sources and reports noted that, what was meant to be a sign of progress and expansion really turned out to be a decision that lacked respect and consideration of the ecology and intricacies of the region.
One source, remarked “SweepSouth proceeded slowly to acquire the necessary technology, resulting in delays in the rollout of apps for new markets and problematic websites. These delays and complications eventually led to the closure of these new marketplaces”.
Reports of mass retrenchments further dented the company’s ability to build trust that would inspire employment confidence and confidence in the fulfillment of services. Reports of layoffs in its largest market South Africa and new markets Kenya, Egypt and Nigeria further cultivated an unsavory reputation.
In a Q&A article with iAfrikan, SweepSouth CEO and co-founder Aisha Pandor responded when questioned about their aspirations to enter new markets on the continent.
“We’ve been cautious about expanding outside of the country too soon prior to achieving true scale in South Africa (where the opportunity is still huge). We’ve just seen too many examples of startups that have burned massive amounts of cash trying to understand a new market, only to withdraw unsuccessfully.
That said, we’ve identified a number of markets for potential launch next year and are looking forward to the learnings and opportunities that will come with scale outside of South Africa.”