CHAPTER 4 Engaging with Business Markets
4.4 Trusted Childcare on Demand
To help 100,000 women get into work in Lebanon, the Middle East and Northern Europe and to improve women’s access to the workplace, especially refugee women.
Jaleesa grew out of a UN-sponsored hackathon in Beirut in June 2016. The team at the event was looking for an innovation that would address the attitude toward high unemployment caused by the Syria crisis. The team’s members looked for an innate skill that could be harnessed and built on without the need for intensive schooling or formal qualifications. They found that there are many thousands of women who would make excellent carers for children but who are marginalised from the traditional labour market. The innovation is to create a demand for this skill and to give this group access to flexible, dignified jobs.
The team brainstormed the issue in an intensive 48-hour period and came up with the first prototype. Over the following two months, the team refined the idea and conducted market research, interviewing 50 families and surveying a further 130. In September 2016, the Jaleesa team launched a basic website and has been refining the site since then, responding in real time to the demands of customers who need childcare.
Jaleesa is a childcare matching service, connecting middle-income families with a trusted babysitter or nanny, when they need one. They help women get into work in three ways: 1) they provide excellent, trusted childcare for mothers who want to return to their jobs after having children; 2) Jaleesa creates jobs and recruits a quarter of babysitters from underprivileged backgrounds; and 3) childcare is subsidised for refugee or underprivileged families so the parents can do livelihoods-related activities.
Jaleesa is a paradigm innovation. It is a for-profit business that places social impact at the centre of its objectives. It addresses a social problem and a market need and it leverages technology to make ideas scalable beyond just Lebanon.
Jaleesa adapts quickly and uses evidence to test its adaptations and innovate aspects of its service. As a tech company, it gathers a lot of data: it is easy to track click-through and identify what products are attractive or where people are dissatisfied. It also logs customer interactions and takes all feedback seriously, implementing immediate improvements as much as possible. Jaleesa’s work culture supports innovation, making decisions quickly and editing and improving its work day-by-day. It works flexibly, online, and with minimal bureaucracy. Their values – to be ethical, trusted, community-oriented, and high quality – helps it to attract and retain customers.
Risks have been addressed in a thorough way by vetting and training sitters, ensuring insurance and legal coverage, building loyalty to ensure a revenue stream, and business modelling and testing to ensure sustainability. This has resulted in a high level of trust among employees and customers.
Good Practice Principles
Jaleesa has set social impact and business key performance indicators (KPIs) and identified performance targets for the coming six months. It ensures that its services are affordable and pays attention to value for money and loyalty both for customers and staff, aiming for long- term relationships.
Collaborative Resilience-Based Action
Collaboration adds enormous value to the business model. The company sees itself as a step in a process from unemployment to training, to the workplace and is building strategic partnerships with other organisations aligned with its mission. For example, strategic partnerships with NGOs will help to recruit underprivileged babysitters, contribute to the overall mission, and will eventually help to prepare the babysitters for specialised careers in the caring professions, teaching, or child development studies.
Jaleesa provides training in first aid, hygiene and child behaviour management and plans to offer career training to employees to help them meet their long-term career goals.
Jaleesa is creating local networks of employees in Beirut and in six other locations in Lebanon.
Contribution to Social Cohesion
The trusted relationship between families and sitters builds social cohesion. Jaleesa pays particular attention to building trust among people from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Jaleesa, Made for Brands, AltCity Boot Camp, Panel of ‘Supermom’ customers, and international NGO recruitment partners.
Name: Angela Solomon