Founder Spotlight: Frances Rafio and Oskie King of Cleaninglady
Empowering women from the lower brackets of life to provide for their families
By Glacer Barnett
The current generation of millennials is busier than ever. Consisting of young, inexperienced adults wanting to enjoy their youth to the fullest, they typically decide to live independently from their families. To get a fresh taste of freedom, they commonly choose to settle on their own in a one-room apartment.
As a result, they are suddenly faced with the hard responsibility of self-sufficiency—cooking, cleaning, laundry, and the like. But with plenty of work to accomplish and activities to experience, who has the time for measly chores?
It isn’t a surprise that household work becomes neglected, as they are seen as bothersome inconveniences to everyday plans. However, one cannot avoid their responsibilities forever. In order to function properly, our place of abode must be clean. Millennials themselves realize this, so they inevitably began looking for assistance. This is where Cleaning Lady comes into play.
Officially launching last June, Cleaning Lady is a newly-formed startup designed to cater to the needs of independent lodgers. Its purpose is to provide Filipinos with quality, and more importantly, honest cleaning services. Targeting busy, hobby-loving millennials, it seeks to leverage on their want for relaxation and convenient living. It only takes one request message through SMS or through Cleaning Lady’s official Facebook for one to be provided with a Cleaning Lady designated to make one’s home as good as new.
For their Cleaning Ladies, the organization has set up a 50-50 profit sharing system. They also cover the Cleaning Ladies’ transportation expenses, provide them with insurance, as well as give them rice allowance as an incentive. On top of that, Cleaning Lady allocates 10% of the organization’s profits to help their employees. They fund livelihood programs, scholarship grants, and community building activities to empower their Cleaning Ladies. Recently, their Financial Literacy program has started where Oskie King, co-founder of Cleaning Lady and financial advisor, teaches their hired ladies ways on how to budget their daily expenses and save up.
Having undergone authorized training, the Cleaning Ladies are professional, delicate, and, as because they are mothers, warm. Coming from different communities, Cleaning Lady addresses the issue that clients may have for their security. Its selling proposition is the warmth that their services delivers—the Filipino nature of being accommodating, cooperative, and kind. A client would be more comfortable having a mother enter and care for their homes than any other stranger.
The quality of the business can be understood by the fact that, in just 5 months of 600 bookings, 40% of Cleaning Lady’s overall clients have requested for their services again. The repeat bookings are consistent with the positive feedback they receive from their clients, who praise the warm and homey feel of the services they offer.
The eureka moment that is Cleaning Lady
Frances Rafio, is the primary founder of Cleaning Lady. She began her corporate career as a management trainee at a local bank for three years. After that, she transferred to a telephone company as Senior Brand officer. But despite her already steady career path, Frances wanted more; instead of being limited by the rigidness of corporate life, Frances wanted to create something that she could call her own. Frances describes the idea of Cleaning Lady as her “Aha!” moment.
It all started last year when she was visiting a friend and happened to chance upon his messy room. When she asked him to have it cleaned, he responded with a no. He said that it was too much of a hassle for him since the only way to call for a maid was to schedule one from an agency three weeks in advance.
At that time, the demand for instant community services made its way to Frances’ mind. Collaborating with business friends from college, she made Cleaning Lady’s current business plan with them before submitting it to Ideaspace. With that, Cleaning Lady, became an instrument that impacts the lives of others for the better.
Nowadays, Frances feels satisfaction with her startup. She has a more flexible lifestyle, getting to do the fun side-activities that she didn’t get the chance to do before. Meeting people from different walks of life like investors, mentors, community members, etc. and finding the value in them serves as a learning experience for her. She feels good knowing that she is contributing to a greater good by inspiring women to better the lives of their own families.
The spiritual balance needed for achievement
Our comfort zone hinders us from great achievements; it is something that entrepreneurs have to learn how to delve out of. Most people have their brilliant, rambunctious ideas, but they usually do not have the courage to make that huge step to push them to success.
Thanks to one of her mentors, Frances also believes that one can never be 100% ready for everything—people simply just had to jump and work on something on the spot, and improving from there.
The entrepreneurial life is also about bringing value to different people, especially when you look at the current conditions of everyday Filipinos. Frances takes to heart a Japanese term that she had recently encountered, Ikigai, the balance between four important aspects of the worth of everyday living: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what is it that you can be paid for. Frances sees Cleaning Lady as the perfect opportunity to achieve all of that. It gives her contentment, it makes use of her business skills, it provides people with the livelihood they need, and it is something that we can make money out of.
In a way, Frances wanted to challenge the old notion that undertaking “housework” is something reserved for the lowly and simple-minded. Since people are too busy with their hectic lifestyles, they fail to notice what something as seemingly small as housework help could do to better their living conditions. When people don’t put the time for that anymore, these Cleaning Ladies are ready to provide the lending hand they need. These are the kinds of people who help make our lives more pleasant.
With the current traction of Cleaning Lady, operations are continuously being improved to make the booking process even more efficient for its users. It is well expected that the demand for Cleaning Lady’s services will increase in the near future; their little acts of help will surely make bigger impacts as it reaches out to more people.