By Isaac Oganga
The late Martin Luther King Jr once said that “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well,”
Perhaps he was referring to the cleaning industry business which has evolved over the years from mop and bucket operations to a multi-billion-dollar industry employing millions of people across the world.
Globally, the Allied Market Research have forecasted that the cleaning services market size is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2 per cent between 2016 and 2020 to reach $74,299 million by 2022. Commercial cleaning services account for the highest revenue in the overall cleaning services.
Where years ago having a hired cleaner was a luxury, now many more people view it as a necessity with the increase in household members working outside of the home.
Contract cleaning companies are becoming more commonplace, and for more than just commercial buildings.
Despite the industry been less developed in Kenya, it still presents an avenue for most entrepreneurs who are out to outdoor each other.
Meet Maryben Omollo is the founding CEO of Greene seal Limited , Top 35under35 Award winner in Hospitality category Kenya, also the Eastern Africa Ambassador for global startups Awards , she runs a local based Start-Up that specializes in the provision of cost effective products and services ranging from cleaning Audits
.. They also offer Pest control and cleaning services s among others all over Kenya.
- Why is the contract cleaning industry not developed in Kenya as it is in other parts of the world?
Cleaning is not developed in Kenya because a lot of people or companies venturing into it, do it for money and assume cleaning and pest control services is just a casual thing/job that doesn’t require any training and, specialization.
In British, you have to attend brics (British institute of Cleaning Science) and attain the certificate to be licensed to carry out a cleaning business. In Kenya you just wake up and decide you want to do it, or because you worked in a cleaning company before you just jump in .
Until we learn the whole concept of cleaning and hold it so importantly because it plays a major role in our environment, we will still slack behind.
If we run a cleaning audits in most organizations 90% of cleaning companies will lose their clients.
Most clients don’t know what they deserve in terms of cleaning and pest control services. If they knew they would never settle for what they are getting.
- For starters, what are the key requirements to set up a cleaning company?
Have the knowledge of cleaning and pest control services. Not just the basic you know in cleaning your house etc. Attend a cleaning college. Invest in it to offer good quality services.
- The industry has evolved and it comprises of both specialty cleaning and normal cleaning?
Normal cleaning, just the basic cleaning like floors, kitchen, bathrooms, countertops, sinks , veranda, Dustin the area. It doesn’t require any special knowledge and that’s what everyone does.
- Specialty cleaning for us, It is dealing with communicable diseases, industrial cleaning, homicide and suicide cleaning, hospital cleaning etc. Such areas require detailed cleaning and using the right chemicals.
- You will notice many organizations, commercial buildings hotels, restaurants, hospitals pavements, toilets have discolored floors/tiles, reason is the cleaning service their been using harsh chemicals and the wrong cleaning methodology.
- The industry is very competitive; how did you end up venturing into this sector?
I wanted to bring change in the system, I love clean environment, healthy environment and I had to begin studying about it in as much it was out of contents in what I studied in the university. I had the passion for this industry.
Also the way I saw some stewards in other organizations being treated I felt it needed order .
It is competitive because others bring cheap services with zero experience or knowledge.
- In terms of hiring, what do you consider and do you offer training to the staff?
Greene seal works with a special group/ category. We the only organization in Africa that works with 70% single mothers, 20% single fathers and 10% permitted Refugees.
Majority are not trained, so we offer them training for 3 months, we employ both with experience and non-experience. Take them through the basic knowledge and training as we progress to the technical parts.
I know you wondering why this group? Because they are left alone to survive o their own, single mothers stand a chance of being mistreated, sexually abused, used for drug trafficking and others put them out there to beg in the streets at night , the kids they walk with deserves education and we give them that chance . While a lot of refugees are judged harshly n they only depend on well-wishers, instead of giving them fish everyday let’s change the narrative and teach them how to fish. That’s why we giving them a chance.
- Technology seems to be a major disruptor in the cleaning industry, how well are you prepared to stay ahead of your competitors?
Well we working on coming up with our own technology, technology is here to stay and if we don’t embrace it we are doomed, we planning ahead on how we can blend with it. Soon we are getting into manufacturing still under the hygiene industry.
- Marketing is key in this business, what criteria are you using to target your clients? This is always the best part for me.
We market ourselves through sharing our story, showcasing our values, leverage our business, partnership, social media, door to door marketing and incentives referrals.
- Mentors plays vital role in ensuring the growth of a company, do you have mentors?
Yes I do have two mentors, one greatly change my perspective about business in general and gave me my first direction. He is called Eric Sereti, he taught him how to do business from passion, it’s never about money, there’s always a satisfaction when you do it from what you love. Second one is Apiyo Aloo, he has always been guiding me on how to work. Values to stand for and how to progress in difficult times.
- Where do you see your company in the next decade? Being an international Brand that not only seeks to clean the environment but cleaning hearts of the special category I work with. We not only settling in Kenya but we want to cut across Africa.
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