Meet our newest Xander Mom, entrepreneur, tech guru and found of the local cleaning service taking the country by storm, SweepSouth, Aisha Pandor.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m a mom of 2 girls aged 9 and 2 years old, and also a founder (along with my husband) of a company called SweepSouth. After completing a PhD in Human Genetics (focused on gene therapy) I wanted to work on a field that had the potential for broader impact, and ended up studying business and then working as a management consultant. I loved the businesses I worked on, but not being an employee, and eventually we resigned from our jobs, cashed in the pension and savings and sold our house and car, and started our business.
Tell us about your business?
SweepSouth is a website and app that connects domestic workers with homeowners who need their services. For customers, it’s a quick and convenient way to get vetted help with regular or on-demand home cleaning. For domestic workers (who we call SweepStars, the majority of whom are unemployed or underemployed prior to working with us), it’s a way to find employment opportunities at decent rates through a trusted platform. In 4 years we’ve worked with almost 7500 domestic workers and are providing additional value to SweepStars like free life and disability cover, financial literacy workshops, access to low cost bank accounts and soon, access to free or low cost medical assistance and online educational courses.
How do you feel about using technology as part of your child’s learning?
I’ve seen the harmful effect technology like phones and game consoles can have on children being sociable and being able to focus, and even more worryingly, how addicted they can become. At the same time, technology is inevitably becoming part of our lived reality and children today are full digital natives. I limit screen time and ensure it’s well balanced with time outside and with other activities like reading books, drawing and colouring, playing with puzzles and make-believe. I also force my kids to have proper conversations with us about our and their day, even though my 9 year old sometimes finds it annoying!
What are your child’s favourite apps?
They love the Toca Boca and Sago mini apps, which are really engaging and there’s a fun and educational Ocean app by Marco Polo. They also enjoy maths apps that have timed challenges. The Xander Afrikaans and Xhosa apps are great for the 9 year old to brush up on what she’s learning in school.
What do you love about South Africa and raising your children here?
I love the diversity of our country and that we have a democracy we can be proud of (given our history). There are so many lessons for kids to learn and so many wonderful role models to learn from. I also appreciate that we have challenges, and think it’s important for children to think about our country’s problems and about opportunities for themselves to be positive agents of change.
TV “Yes” or “No”?
Yes, but in moderation. Not until all homework is done, and not too close to bedtime. We are more relaxed with TV on weekends, but also make an effort to get outdoors.
How do you balance it all – in one sentence?
By a combination of having a great support network at home and accepting that the “perfect” balance between family and work (and getting enough sleep and keeping fit and eating well and, and and…) is just not possible right now.
Chores for children at home? Which chores?
Absolutely, and they get pocket money with a portion for saving, giving to charity, and spending. Chores include doing their beds, cleaning the car, feeding the pets and watering plants and veggies with grey water.
What are your favourite holidays / activities with kids?
Our eldest daughter volunteers with the dogs at Woof Project so we all go together every second week to support her. We also love walking along the Sea Point Promenade and going to the park. We’ve recently started playing tennis together (very badly!). In terms of holidays, every few months we try to take a nice long drive outside Cape Town and we use the June/July holidays to do an overseas trip to somewhere relatively cheap but where they can experience different cultures.