In Colombia, around 800 thousand women work as cleaning professionals, of whom 90 percent do it informally, without any contract, without social benefits, without fixed working hours or financial stability. Hogaru was created in 2015, as a company that seeks to dignify and personalize domestic work in the country. In order to achieve this aim, the enterprise contracts directly with these professionals, assumes the responsibility of finding clients to ensure they work all week during the full working day and offers them a fixed salary with a dignified treatment. At the same time, it offers to the clients a complete cleaning service per hour or per day with trained and qualified professionals.
Universidad Externado de Colombia
Gustavo A Yepes López
In this scenario of inequality and informality of cleaning services in Colombia, Hogaru was established. Hogaru is a technological platform founded by the Italian Matteo Cera, the Spanish Gonzálo Úcar and the Colombian Oscar Peña whose objective is to dignify the work of cleaning professionals and to offer cleaning services for homes and small business. Its platform allows the clients to request a cleaning service with qualified professionals, all of them recruited and trained by the company without having to worry about the paperwork that is required to have a formal working relationship with them.
The cleaning professionals accomplish their work with technology, as Matteo mentions in the interview conducted for this document, “… they receive through their mobile application not only the information about their duties, the address, and the name of the client but also the instructions of how to get there, including the mode of transportation. They register their entry when they arrive and their exit when they finish; they review the tasks they have to do; they check their salary and even make a loan request through the app. It is important for us that they become familiar with technology and the results show that its inclusion had a good reception because in a short time they became self-sufficient."
Matteo Cera, CEO of Hogaru, mentions in an interview “After being a consultant for an international firm, at the end of 2012, I decided to explore and create a company. I felt the need to build something from scratch and, at that moment, I had contact with another ex-consultant, Gonzalo Úcar; we started to study some interesting sectors applying user experience methodologies and we investigated three or four industries, one of them was the industry of home services …”
At the beginning, they constructed the digital platform “Vosavos” with the support and investment of Telefónica and Wayra; they were constantly looking for people who needed a domestic service with different service providers in Colombia. This idea developed into Hogaru, a provider of cleaning services for homes and small companies, and that included Oscar Peña as the third co-founder of the company.
In the construction of the business model, they found that in Colombia it was difficult for a cleaning professional to earn their daily bread because their clients were constantly changing, they had cash payments and they did not have social security. Therefore, if they get sick, they will not be able to work for their daily sustenance so they will not receive any income for their families; this situation was the source of inspiration to create something positive for the country.
The company emerged for this reason; since its origins, it was an enterprise committed to dignify the domestic work in the country. This proposal started by giving a new value to the terms used for cleaning professionals. Even if they are not used with the intention of being offensive, many people refer to them as the women, the girl or the housekeeper, sometimes forgetting that they have their own names and they do a job as worthy as any other profession.
Matteo mentions, “We moved from being intermediary, to being the service provider. In February 2015, we started with the first group of professionals trained by us …” This generates two main benefits:
1. On the one hand, the customers obtain the domestic workers that they need because they respond to their requirements, so that they receive a high quality cleaning service for hours, without having to worry about the legal procedures and the paperwork.
2. On the other hand, the cleaning professionals receive better working conditions, so that their situations of informality and instability improve. Hogaru offers direct recruitment, an appropriate schedule, a fixed wage, social benefits and training, among other benefits. All of them contribute to their economic growth and stability.
Hogaru’s cleaning professionals affirm that their working and living conditions have changed a lot. Nowadays, they have standard working hours, they can save money in order to have their own home, they can study and they can spend more time with their families, without having to worry if they can bring money to their homes.
The company contributes to the reduction of inequality and poverty of most cleaning professionals in Colombia because the business model combines the high demand of cleaning services, the formalization of employment for domestic workers and the technology.
Using technology and innovating in a devaluated business area in Colombia, Hogaru has become a consolidated company that performs around 40.000 cleaning services per month. It has 900 direct employees and more than 5.200 customers at the national level in cities like Bogotá, Chía, Medellin, Rio Negro, Cali and Barranquilla.
About Hogaru’s profitability, Matteo affirms, “we have already seen some of the results of that project, so this year we will end with utility that surpasses the break-even point, which is extremely important for a business at an early stage like ours. We can say that we grew an average of 90 percent year-over-year in the last 3 years.”
The vision of Hogaru is to become the leading management company for homes and small companies, creating 100.000 direct jobs and expanding to other cities and countries of Latin America.
During the interview Matteo says, “In Colombia, the Gini coefficient is really high, which means that there exists a solid base of the social pyramid that lives with the minimum wage to a little bit more, and there is a top that lives with excellent working conditions that can afford two cleaning professionals or two nannies. This is different from other countries where these conditions do not exist since there is not such a strong use of this type of services…”
Considering this, Hogaru responds to the needs of both parts of the pyramid, attending to the high demand of domestic services and offering direct recruiting for dignified work to its cleaning professionals.
Each professional of Hogaru goes through a rigorous selection process that ends with a week of training in different technical skills, soft skills, customer service, emergency management, cell phone use and technology in general.
Among the benefits that the cleaning professionals have are saving mechanisms and emergency loans, so that the workers can stay longer in the company. Thus, counteracting the high staff turnover that implies working with a population that, for many socio-cultural and economic reasons, is not used to having a fixed schedule and a steady job.
Matteo Cera, Interview Hogaru
Matteo Cera, Interview Hogaru
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Bogotá, Bogotá, CO
Business Website: https://www.hogaru.com/
Year Founded: 2013
Number of Employees: 501 to 1000
The objective Hogaru is to dignify the work of cleaning professionals and to offer cleaning services for homes and small business with the tecnology.