yoza african start up
Uganda's Uber-like app for dirty laundry
02:34 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Mobile app Yoza connects people with laundry washers living locally

Many of the laundry washers working with Yoza have more than doubled their incomes

CNN  — 

Piles of dirty laundry don’t clean themselves – but in Kampala, an app is trying to make the chore as painless as possible.

Yoza connects people who need help cleaning their clothes with others who offer laundry services in their area.

24-year-old Solomon Kitumba founded the company last year after struggling to get through his washing, which is usually done by hand in Uganda.

“I woke up in the morning with a pile of laundry,” Kitumba says. “I had a long night and I thought to myself, how do I get this laundry done? I had to ask around.”

Eventually, he found “a lady who lived right outside, a single mother of two” to do the job. T

he idea struck him to “connect the dots” between people who needed their laundry done and those ready to provide the service.

Within a few weeks, a working prototype for Yoza was born.

The app is growing, and mainly targets single professionals and students with smartphones.

Crucially, it provides the user with a list of local washers who would normally be difficult to contact.

“The people at the bottom of this, who offer the hand washing, don’t have smart phones. The only way to get to them is via phone calls,” says Yoza co-founder and business strategist Nicholas Kamanzi.

By signing up to the app, many of the women have been able to double their incomes. In some cases, it has increased sevenfold.

Once the user picks a laundry provider, Yoza calls them to assign the job, 80 percent of the agreed price goes to the washer, with the rest going to Yoza.

According to Kamanzi, most of the customers they started with are still using the service because it is so convenient.

“It has become very easy for them to just go on the app, subscribe and then they don’t have to worry about their laundry being done over the weekend.”

A helping hand for local washers

Yoza uses 150 laundry washers, all of whom are vetted before being assigned work. 90% of them are women, and about 1 in 3 are single mothers.

According to official Uganda figures, the average hourly wage in the country is 30 cents and Yoza says it has boosted their incomes significantly.

“These are people who initially made around $6 or less on a weekend,” Kitumba says. “What we do is to expose them to an unlimited number of customers to wash for. We have ladies who now make between $28-40 on a weekend.”

Joan, a professional using the service, agrees that the model provides benefits on all sides.

“It works for me because its convenient first of all,” she says. “Secondly, it is good value for money, and the ladies are vetted so I can trust that they will do a good job.”

A plan “to see bubbles everywhere”

The team at Yoza won $5,000 last year at a competition to design a mobile app, known as the MTN Innovation Challenge. The prize money has so far been their main source of funding.

Now, with around 400 downloads on Google Play, Yoza is looking to expand its business. The founders aim to get over 1,000 subscriptions by the end of 2016, and plan to have similar services in Nairobi and Kigali by 2018.

“We want every one to use Yoza,” adds Kitumba. “To see bubbles everywhere. We are looking at reaching as many households as possible, which also gives us room to recruit more washers on our platform.”