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Women Entrepreneurs in the Cleaning Business

[box type=”shadow” ]The passion for doing business in the cleaning industry also calls for a 24/7 commitment and working under erratic timelines – a tough choice for women who want to make a career in this industry. From manpower management to money management & escalation, the challenges are plenty and encountered at every other turn of the way. Clean India Journal spoke to some of these women who have battled these odds, founded and groomed a brand with a towering philosophy and also struck a healthy balance between home and work. These women have studied or worked in India or abroad, left their 5-star careers in hospitality or allied industries and are now rewriting the rules here.[/box]

The women in focus are

Bharathi Kamath, Managing Director, Carewel Facilities (India) Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore
Simit Thakur, Managing Director, Neat Space Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai
Prathibha Blessing, Chief Operating Officer, CAERE Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad
Anjana Umesh Vij, Director & CEO, Kibble Enterprises, Delhi
Niyati Purohit, CEO, Megamorph Marketing Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore

About 12 years in the housekeeping industry taught Bharathi Kamath everything she needed to know. Yet when she founded Carewel Facility Services in Bangalore with a tiny team of four, Bharathi learnt more. “When you face multiple clients, you realise that no two clients think alike or pay the same per person engaged. The challenge is to deliver the very best but the hiccups come when they may not want to spend more,” she says.

Bagging a good order was not the only goal but the aim was to retain and grow together with the client. Out of the 3000 workforce at Carewel, 55-60 per cent of them are women and over 40 per cent have remained with the organization for the last 8-10 years. From FM services, Carewel has diversified into providing indoor plants for establishments, doing carpet and upholstery shampooing and in a short time, will be launching pest control services too. “The industry has experienced phenomenal growth and the potential is huge. Outsourcing has spread across. But there are new companies that come into the business. The decision making factors have also changed from pricing to service delivery.”

[box type=”shadow” ]Out of the 3000 workforce working with me, 55-60 per cent of them are women. The good thing is more than 40 per cent of them have remained with the organization for the last 8-10 years. They are constantly trained and taken care of. The staff members are also trained on personality development, body language, etiquette and so on.

Bharathi Kamath[/box]

Bharathi’s grit, determination and clarity are her strengths. After Carewel experienced a painful period with defaulters, a policy change was made not to engage with such clients.

“My staff are my ambassadors.” So maximum of the the staff members are trained on personality development, body language, etiquette and so on. Soon, an institute in FM services will provide horizontal training for different positions and across verticals. The industry response is positive, claims Bharathi.

Bharathi has struck a perfect work-life balance; today Carewell House accommodates the facility services wing and the Chartered Accountant wing of her husband.

“With the industry’s growth, array of products, mechanized equipment, knowledge sharing and interface platforms, doing business at this time feels great. We have the best of vendors and are abreast of the happenings too. FM service industry is a great employment provider that has improved the quality of life of many and given them an element of security with the statutory benefits. Patience, understanding and consistency are the stepping stones for growth here,” she says summing up.

[box type=”shadow” ]Being from a working-class family, no bank balance, nothing in hand to start a business except for what was saved from the salary…. At one point of time, I was not sure if I had made the right choice shifting from five-star comfort zone to uncertainties of doing a housekeeping business.

Simit Thakur[/box]

At the time when property management services in Mumbai was just beginning to catch up Simit Thakur made an entry into the housekeeping business. Having worked with the hospitality industry since 1989 with five star properties like Hyatt Regency Delhi, Clarks Group of Hotels, Majorda Beach Resort and Holiday Inn in Mumbai, “I had gained good enough confidence, exposure and experince to do something of my own and I saw huge scope in the the cleaning business, outside the hotel industry.”

Having experienced the hardships of acquiring licences and meeting statutory compliances, which were much tougher then, Simit went about engaging professionals right from the beginning in forming NeatSpace. “Being from a working class family, no bank balance, nothing in hand to start a business except for what was saved from the salary…. At one point of time, I was not sure if I had made the right choice shifting from five star comfort zone to uncertainties of doing a housekeeping business.”

The nest egg was melting away meeting everyday needs, assaulting her from all sides and uncertainties chipping down her will. However, hard work and professional approach gave Simit a big break with a huge contract and since then there has been no looking back.

Simit’s approach lies in the appropriate application of technology to achieve the best in housekeeping. Today, NeatSpace is where she aimed it to be — in the top league. Her client list grew; NeatSpace expanded to three locations — Mumbai, Pune and Delhi. With business professionals travelling across the world, she understands that the hygiene expectations have also increased. Fittingly so, Simit wants NeatSpace to be rated on par with internationally acclaimed FM service companies and is ready to run the extra mile to achieve that.

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