Dr Aisha Pandor (33) is the co-founder and current CEO of SweepSouth; a South African based online platform for booking and managing cleaning services. SweepSouth became the first to offer such a service on the continent. Pandor worked as a management consultant in both the telecommunications and mining industries before embarking on her entrepreneurial venture. Pandor holds a PhD in Human Genetics. As a black female innovator, Pandor is widely acknowledged for her start-up’s success in pioneering social reform in African Innovation.
Pandor’s formative years were spent under the parentage of her South African alum parents, Naledi and Sharif Pandor. Education was imperative in her household and despite the connections her influential family had, the expectation was that her career would be forged on her own merit.
Pandor followed her mother’s interest in science and technology and completed a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Microbiology and Biochemistry. Her thesis on retinitis pigmentosa (a type of hereditary blindness), and research on potential cures for various hereditary diseases, led to her completion of a PhD in Human Genetics as well as being awarded the David and Elaine Potter Fellowship. In an unprecedented feat, in the same year she was completing her PhD, Pandor pursued her interest in business by registering for the UCT Graduate School of Business’ AIM (Associate in Management) programme. Pandor attended her graduation for both qualifications on the same day.
For two years, Pandor worked as a management consultant in the telecommunications and mining industries. Pandor married software designer Alen Ribić (co-founder of SweepSouth) and in the early years of their careers were expected to work demanding hours. This left little time for any household duties. In 2014, after facing difficulty finding a suitable domestic cleaner, they saw an opportunity to rectify a common problem many middle-class South Africans faced. With their combined skill set they launched SweepSouth. The tech start-up grew exponentially and Pandor saw the potential it had to bring socio-economic change to black African women in her employment.
In addition to Pandor’s education accolades from the University of Cape Town, Pandor was also awarded the South African Women in Science Award. Outside of academia, Pandor has an impressive list of awards for her contribution to African innovation and technology, these include: Africa’s Breakthrough Female Innovators of 2017 by the World Economic Forum, Female Tech/E-Commerce Entrepreneur, and Best Black Tech/E-Commerce Entrepreneur at the PriceCheck Tech and E-Commerce Awards in 2016. Pandor has been on the Mail and Guardian’s list of 200 Young South Africans, and a 500 Startups Batch 14 alum. In 2015, Pandor and Ribić spent four months in Silicon Valley after being selected to take part in the 500 Startups accelerator, a first for a South African venture.
Pandor and Ribić invested their entire savings into the start of SweepSouth. The investment proved successful and in 2017, Pandor was able to secure Series A financing for the start-up. International retails solutions, Smollan and Venture Capitalist Draper Dark Flow formed part of SweepSouth’s Series A. Existing investors include Identity Future Fund, Africa Angels Network (CRE VC), and private investor Nkosinathi Maphumulo (DJ Black Coffee).
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