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Elizabeth Mwangi: Empowering Low-income Women with Genius “Mama Fua” Mobile Application

Elizabeth Mwangi is the founder of Gwiji for Women, a tech start-up connecting women from low-income areas to clients seeking cleaning services.

Also known as Uber for Mama Fua, the company runs two mobile applications – one for the client and another for women offering cleaning services.

The cleaners’ app shows the client’s job description, time that the service is needed, the location and how much the client is offering.

But how did the company come about and what is Elizabeth seeking to achieve with this venture? Here is her story as told by WoK.

Elizabeth, a trained architect, conceived the idea to come up with the applications while working with women empowerment associations.

At the time, she was a student at the University of Nairobi and also worked with a university-spearheaded group to create the apps.

After months of work, the app was finally launched offering opportunities to women aged between 18 and 40 who are mostly the breadwinners of their families.

“We wanted something fair; not expensive and not little so that they can get value for the service and get extra money for transport and commission,” Elizabeth said.

Inside the cleaners’ app, women offering services can see at what time the job is available, how much is offered for the job, the location and category.

“The assumption people have is that the ‘mama fua’ just does laundry. We have more categories including cleaning utensils, mopping and washing bedding,” Elizabeth explained.

Elizabeth Mwangi
Elizabeth Mwangi in a past training session PHOTO/Original

While bringing cleaners on board, Elizabeth explained that they must undergo a vetting process and a training session for professionalism.

“Cleaning rates starts from as low as Ksh 600 which provides both value for money for the clients and fairness for the cleaners,” she said.

In an interview, Elizabeth explained that she was driven to set up Gwiji having seen how much her mother struggled to get cleaning jobs.

“I grew up in the slums and everyday I would watch my mother get up early in the morning to go look for kibarua. She should often return home empty handed and I wondered how one could work so hard yet still struggle to provide for us,” she said.

She however noted that growing up, she understood the challenges that come with such informal jobs.

“I decided to dedicate my life to the creation of opportunities so that women like my mother would no longer have to struggle to feed an educate their children,” she said.

Although the company is yet to break even, Elizabeth said she is happy to see women from the slums and low-income areas educate and feed their children from jobs they get through her platform.

“Well our company is sustainable and profit making we are yet to break-even because we are a fairly young company with less than 5 years in the market and we allow our cleaners to keep the majority of their earnings because we place women empowerment above maximizing profits,” she said.

Elizabeth stated that they face among other challenges, maintaining clients, as some cleaners would strike a deal with a client, bypassing the app.

“If I could do it all over again I would focus on building relationships with our clients to secure their loyalty to the company. Creating a personal relationship with a client prevents them from wanting to bypass the company for future orders,” she said.