Portio Dlamini's New Entry

Portio Dlamini's New Entry: Transforming lives while cleaning excellently

Durban, South AfricaDurban, South Africa
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Emakheni is a company that does industrial & office cleaning. Over and above cleaning, we also empower cleaners beyond the cleaning industry into their full potential so that they do not spend the rest of their lives as cleaners.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if that cleaning lady was given another chance to discover that there is more to life than just cleaning toilets. That they have the potential to become a supervisor, lawyer or musician?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The cleaning industry has approximately 65 % of young people. These have grade 10, 12 and matric plus qualifications but have entered this industry due to unemployment. Looking at the trends, it is clear that most of them start and end up as cleaners all their lives and never get a chance to progress any further due to poverty, illiterate family background, lack of guidance and skill and lack of exposure. Ultimately, this is killing the nation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Emakheni has recognised that an opportunity exists for further economic development, business growth and employment creation by putting emphasis on empowering these employees in a more meaningful way. This will be through an integrated approach of Skills Development (cleaning and hygiene), Career Guidance & Personal Development through Strategic Partnerships. The main focus of this empowerment is on helping the cleaner to discover their purpose and potential and to ignite the desire to change so that they can be able to use the basic tools to improve their lives and grow within the cleaning industry or into other industries. And the expected outcome includes cleaners studying in tertiary institutions and stepping into other industries.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

There is a guy who started working as a cleaner in a factory. He never completed his grade 12. He came with a with a very low self esteem and a beggarly and victim mentality, resulting to poor work performance. Through personal development working on his desires and dreams in life, guiding him through career options, giving him high quality, colourful and protective uniforms, their attitude and motivation towards life changed completely, and the following results were seen: - They managed to clean and do some operational work within a month, which took the competitor 6 months. - They now have short and long term plans in terms on finance and career including getting a forklift and driver's licence, which will secure them a better job.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The cleaning company started trading 10 months ago. And we currently have 2 people in our compliment and negotiating several deals which will bring the compliment to 50 employees in 1 year's time. And 140 cleaners in 3 years time. 84 of these employees are young people who can still be empowered beyond just being cleaners and tap into supervisory levels and other industries. While working as cleaners, they can study further for an advanced qualification in cleaning and hygiene, or other proffessions. Achieving this will require forming partnerships and relationships with Training Companies, Manufacturing companies (some who are our clients who can absorb them once they are qualified), tertiary institutions, Recruitment companies and, exhibitions and bursary funds and business opportunities available. All these are critical in exposing cleaners to a mindset changing environment.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Impact of the Empowerment program is highly dependant on Business Growth since Emakheni is a cleaning company based on an empowermet model. The more we penetrate the cleaning market, the more cleaners will have access to our training programs. Expected growth is as follows is to achieve national footprint in 3 to 5 years. Will Start spreading to other underdeveloped African countries, where many people are still cleaners and general workers.We also plan to introduce the Personal and Career Development pillar at schools - using a psychological approach to address issues and not Skills Dev only.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

-Generating more Sales as a Cleaning Company so that we can those profits to fulfil the empowerment vision - have enouch money to do all the training, exhibitions and other development initiatives. 2. Getting the Corporates to direct their Corporate Social Investment (CSI) to the empowerment of cleaners as part of alleaviating poverty and unemployment. 3. Applying for Government Grants specifically for the Skills Development Pillar.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Currently the South African government is embarking on a number of initiatives to train and upskill the youth and disadvantaged. But these initiatives are not yielding as much fruit because they focus mainly on SKILLS development. Emakheni's approach is different because we focus on unleashing a person's passion and purpose in life, which stems mainly from their natural abilities and talents. And once this is enhanced through skills and other forms of training, it causes a person to be creative and to stand out among the crowds because strength, courage and excellence is drawn from within.

Founding Story

In 2006 I witnessed an old lady who had started as a young woman cleaning in offices & factories and was about to retire. She was sad because retirement meant no income to feed her family and she did not even have pension to sustain her at old age.She received no education, career devolpment or direction during her 20 year working period.How sad - starting as a cleaner and retiring as a cleaner! Emakheni therefore exists as a vehicle of transformation, firstly to build a profitable cleaning business which empowers cleaners to think out of the box and make changes that will compel them to a desired fulfilling career within or beyond the cleaning industry.This translates to High Service Levels


I am currently the only one in Management Team , with the 2 employees. The compliment will increase in 2016, upon signing 2 bigger cleaning contracts, which wil require 2 supervisors and 45 cleaners. - An Administrator is to be hired early next year and a part time Market Researcher. - Training officer will be employed and oversee all our training and development needs and to launch these training programms - The other current supporting team are mentioned below.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Through a Friend

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:


Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

While working as a Unit Manager at Unilever, I got involved with factory teams to troubleshoot and solve problems on the production lines. I learnt to identify people's strengths and passions and natural talent and empowered people to work in teams to solve problems. Through that initiative, we were able to turn around the factory performance by working effectively with systems and people to increase productive and service levels. This initiative resulted not only in increased profits but it also unleashed people's potential and brought fulfilment at the same time.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

The following are the key stakeholders that have provided input and expertise in setting up this business:
- Dr Basil Tryon: Personal Mentor and Life Coach
- Ross Plumbley, Sourcing Unit Director at Unilever (general mentorship),
- Raizcorp Team - Mandy Murphy, Kim Knight and Catherine Phillips (Strategy, Personal and Finance guides directing and guiding the entrepreneur on decision making, continual monitoring of business performance and management using the DaVinci Institute programme/model).
- Services Seta - Nerusha Beecum, KZN Provincial Manager (Information and advice on Skills Development Strategy, Levies and Learnerships)


Moses Karmali's picture

This is a pretty great organization and I like what you stand for. Keep up the great work and I wish you all the best in 2016

Portio Dlamini's picture

Thank you Moses. It requires a lot of hard work and focus. But thank you so much for the words of encouragement.