Almost two years after they set up their social enterprise HouseMaidForYou to connect unprivileged domestic workers with prospective employers, Rathi and Prateek Rana are now taking their venture to another level.
The couple would now be connecting with apartment associations to launch their comprehensive Domestic Help Management Application for Apartments.
“We will work as partners with Residents Welfare Associations to manage their maids and offer facilities like online search, reviews and feedback, access control, payroll management, etc.,” says Rathi. “We have created a prototype that is user friendly for RWAs and we have just got our first contract,” she beams.
Bengaluru-born and raised, this former air hostess and alumnus of Mount Carmel College, launched a maid employment service in 2013 with her husband Prateek, who is a businessman.
After her stint with an airline, Rathi worked with NGOs specifically addressing the needs of domestic workers. Sensing that there were limitations to the amount of hand-outs she could provide, Rathi then found a way to channel her social awareness into enterprise. “I had a Eureka moment when a maid came knocking on my door looking for work. Her employers had moved away and after five years of service she had nothing to fall back on,” explains Rathi.
Realising the flip side of the coin was an ever-present need for maid services, Rathi decided to try and bridge the demand and supply gap. “In my own apartment complex, I saw how one struggled to balance demanding work schedules and household chores,” she shares.
There was a dearth of reasonably “trained and reliable” staff, she says. People had to take the day off when maids didn’t turn up. Yet there were women living in nearby slums unable to get minimum wages, she says.
The Ranas then set up HouseMaidForYou, a company that recruits, trains and provides domestic workers. “We put a lot of emphasis on verifications, past employment history, health, hygiene and basic etiquette. We are also labour law compliant,” says Prateek. While Rathi takes care that her recruits get their due from employers, Prateek is aware that for a working relationship to succeed rights and duties go hand-in-hand. “I insist that our staff understand the importance of punctuality, commitment and dedication,” he says.
The company has two main verticals—a customer service team to handle inquiries and final placements and a recruitment team that works at the grassroots level. “We have a database of candidates that we match to the needs of our registered clients,” says Rathi. “Once the candidate joins, they are on our payroll and we ensure their salary is credited on time to the bank account that we open for them. They also get medical insurance, PF, 12 days paid annual leave and Sundays off,” Rathi adds.
“I approach women on the streets and in slums with offers of decent employment. To convince them to work is just the beginning. Most of them are uneducated, so professionalism means nothing,” says Rathi, sharing the challenges of her work. “Sometimes I spend days training them and then they say their husbands don’t want them to work outside the home, which can be frustrating,” she says.
But the upside is that we can make a visible difference in peoples’ lives, believes Rathi. “A Wipro employee had handed in her papers as she couldn’t manage her little one and her job. We found her a nanny who made it possible for her to do both,” says Prateek. But he also feels that the total dependence on domestic workers in Indian homes is not a healthy way of functioning. “People call in for a replacement if the maid is away even for a day. That’s a bit ridiculous,” he says.
Registrations cost `5,000 and are valid for six months. If the candidate does not work out, replacements are provided within that period. For more details, visit housemaidforyou.com
A fair deal
● All workers have to provide proof of address & ID.
● HMFY internally verifies the address and ID through field agents if the address is local and through 3rd party vendors if it is of another city or state.
● The salary of the housemaid depends on a number of factors such as house size, number of family members, services required, timings and leaves.