Somaliland:Meet CAAWISO Services: a female-owned cleaning start-up

Somalilandsun:Caawiso Services is a company that a group of female entrepreneurs founded. The company works to recruit blue-collar workers to work as maids and provide cleaning services to private homes and public facilities. The idea of this start-up was once a distant dream of a girl, according to the principal founder, Iqra Abdullahi Elmi, who pioneered the concept and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Caawiso Services.The start-up is one of the beneficiaries of the Dalbile youth fund, which provides grants to youth start-ups after going through boot camps for ideation and extensive mentorship and coaching. The most impactful solutions and teams with the most innovative ideas receive a $2,000 grant.

The Dalbile Youth Initiative is a socio-economic initiative to empower Somalia youth with skills and resources to unlock their full potentials. The European Union has provided 6 million Euros for this project that supports job creation for the youth. UNFPA is implementing it with local partners, namely Irise, Shaqodoon and youth peer networks.

Below is an interview with Iqra Abdullahi Elmi:


What solutions are you offering?


Caawiso Services is providing a solution to a gap that exists in the home-cleaning industry. We had identified no service providers that specialized in the cleaning industry or provided employers in this sector. Most of the clients require well-skilled housekeepers and housemaids that can be trusted with the job. That’s where Caawiso Services comes in. We decided to take action by starting this business after identifying this opportunity. We provide affordable, clean, home-cleaning services to people in Mogadishu, and we can easily be reached on our online platform. We have complete control over the screening and interviewing process of the housekeepers and the services provided.


What are the opportunities you have?


Home cleaning services is an untapped market that has the potential to grow. With virtually no company providing on-demand home-cleaning services, this industry has the potential to grow if it receives investment. We envision our start-up to have a tremendous impact on our society, and it can have a significant share of the market in the long run. We have a bigger plan to deliver good services to the community to gain their trust and increase the productivity and employability of the local market. We also plan to equip the house helpers to ensure the quality of service they provide to our customers is excellent.


What challenges are you facing?


The main challenge to our start-up is the perspective that the local community has of our services. There is a stereotype associated with this sector as it is presumed to be a job for marginalized communities. There are derogatory names that the community calls housecleaners. Other challenges include a lack of financial capital to scale up our idea into a fully-fledged company. The local infrastructure, such as connectivity, mobility, and identifying the right employers, is also challenging.


How did you know about Dalbile?


We learnt about Dalbile from social media, specifically Facebook, and we are glad to have reached out to the iRise team, who are implementing the Dalbile project. We were convinced that this was a timely opportunity to seize, and we immediately applied for the call of applications posted on their Facebook page. Through Dalbile Bootcamp, we have received eye-opening training that allowed us to form, build and start our start-up from the ground.


How do you plan to scale up your start-up?

Although we are at an earlier stage, we have a growth strategy to become a premier source for blue-collar jobs in Somalia. Every start-up founder desires to see what began as a small business plan scaling up and eventually becoming a global business venture, but this is not an easy journey. Most start-ups are almost dependent on outside support such as grants or equity. Ours is to seek investment for growth. The challenges tend to centre around funding, hiring the right talent and marketing, to name but a few. To scale up in the future, we need to have an up-to-date strategy in place and capital investment from either local or international banks to build and scale up our company. We believe such investment will help our business stay afloat on the market.