Luke Kannemeyer, 35, is a founding member and now the managing director of SweepSouth, a technology platform connecting home service providers to prospective clients. He was the Allan Gray Orbis Fellow in 2006, Mandela Rhodes Scholar in 2011, the Most Outstanding Postgraduate Leader at UCT in 2012 while working on improving HIV treatment.
SweepSouth has won awards for entrepreneurship and impact, and led the company to achieve the highest Fairwork score in South Africa in 2022. Luke recently co-authored a paper on maternity protections for domestic workers. Before joining SweepSouth in 2015, he worked at the edtech startup, Siyavula Education, where he wrote and edited free textbooks in natural science and mathematics used by thousands of learners in South Africa.
Luke is a prominent proponent for the rights of domestic workers in South Africa and on the continent. He is the lead author of SweepSouth’s annual survey on the pay and treatment of domestic workers, which provides data on the state of domestic work in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria, and topics on abuse and mental health.
It is the largest survey of its kind in the world. His advocacy extends to writing regular articles for the public, academic articles, providing comments, and working with government and civil society. Luke started working as the operations manager with fewer than 40 providers. Since he has grown the operations to more than 35 000 providers and it is now the largest home services platform on the continent.
- Grade 12 (Matric), St Joseph’s Marist College, Rondebosch (2006)
- BSc Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Cape Town (2009)
- BSc (Med) Hons, University of Cape Town (2010)
- Allan Gray Orbis Fellow (2006), Mandela Rhodes Scholar (2011)
- Most Outstanding Postgraduate Leader at UCT (2012). Our company has won various awards in terms of entrepreneurship and impact, and I led the company to achieve the highest Fairwork score in South Africa in 2022.
- I have also recently co-authored a paper on maternity protections for domestic workers
Nearing the end of high school, I had a discussion with our principal about my future plans. I mentioned wanting to do outreach work before studying. She told me to focus on maximising impact. Study first, and you can make substantially more impact later.
Value relationships. It’s easy to take forming new friendships for granted, but they will be your strongest support in times of need, and you too will draw strength from providing others with support. New relationships are harder to form as you get older and don’t neglect putting in the work to maintain them.
Focus on your mission and don’t let feelings of unfairness get in your way. While you’ll have to fight harder to access opportunities, don’t worry about those who have it easier. They’re not worrying about you, so don’t burden yourself with worry that can get in the way of you achieving your goals.
I truly believe that South Africa has so much to lose despite what naysayers may believe. I believe we have the people to get us back on track, and it is we, the people, who need to ensure that there is political will to tackle the fundamental issues plaguing our society. We saw the initial approach to the Covid pandemic where our government led with decisive action. We now need to take a similar approach to tackle the problems holding back economic freedom: crime, corruption, energy insecurity, water insecurity, unemployment and poor education. I believe that with a concerted approach, we can see South Africa in five years where we can all agree with each other that our country is on track for prosperity, not just in economic growth, but in the lives of its people.