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Maid to order: New app DekhoSeekho aims to upskill domestic workers

Libza Mannan
12th Jul 2017
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Launched by Gauri Singh’s The Maids Company, DekhoSeekho is a digital platform that offers over 400 instructional videos to improve the skill set of India’s large domestic workforce

There's an app for everything these days--be it sharing a ride, ordering food, meeting new people or revealing a secret. But The Maids Company (TMC), founded by Gauri Singh in 2011, has a brand new app that aims to offer domestic workers easy access to skill training, increase their income and bring dignity to their work.

The free-to-download DekhoSeekho, which translates into “see and learn”, was launched on September 13, 2016, and aims to better the lot of domestic help in India.

Every average Indian middle-class household is home to a host of helpers, be it maids, nannies, cooks or helpers. But most of these blue-collar workers–despite keeping homes up and running–earn pitifully low salaries.

Neetha N and Indrani Mazumdar of the Delhi-based Centre for Women’s Development Studies highlight that the biggest growth in employment for Delhi's women between 1999-2000 and 2004-2005 came from domestic workers—from 5.3 per cent to 19.6 per cent, but the sector remains highly unregulated and marred by several issues, including placement agencies, low skill levels, no fixed wages and employment contracts.

A lot more needs to be done for them, and Gauri Singh believes upskilling is the only way out. That’s where DekhoSeekho comes in.

 What is DekhoSeekho?

DekhoSeekho is a natural progression from The Maids Company, which swears by the motto “naukar nahin, naukri” (not servants, but professionals).

The company prides itself on bringing professionalism into this service area and creating dignity of labour for the domestic help. The app provides ample learning opportunities. There are hundreds of recipe videos–shepherd’s pie or chhole, anyone?–that maids can peruse. Not to be missed are the 40 housekeeping videos–how to clean rooms in a professional and sanitary manner, how to deal with laundry and how to fold shirts just like the dhobi. Six videos on etiquette–say thank you and please, dress neatly and knock before entering a room–are also on the app.

In six years, the company has trained more than 1,500 workers for 3,000-plus Gurgaon homes, says Gauri, who has invested more than Rs 1 crore of her money on the app.

The DekhoSeekho set

DekhoSeekho is actually two apps that work in combination with one another. The DekhoSeekho Manager is the app that employers can use while the DekhoSeekho Worker is designed for the domestic help.

Available on Google Playstore, the app is completely free and has seen close to 500 downloads so far. Using the manager app, the employer can remotely leave voice instructions for the worker. It’s possible to choose from the numerous European and Indian dishes, or any other tasks that may be desired. The message will be delivered to the maid on the worker’s app, and s/he will be able to view the chosen video.

The platform is a modern-day solution powered by simplified technology. Over time, it aims to make domestic workers smarter and help them to create smarter homes.

The worker app

The app has been designed keeping the workers’ low literacy levels in mind. The product has a super-easy graphic interface along with voice assist, which makes it easy for semiliterate and illiterate house helps to use it easily. The app supports a dual language feature; the worker’s interface works in English and Hindi while the videos are only in Hindi.

Neelam, a cook, moved to Delhi many years ago. Working in urban homes, she often felt the need to upgrade her cooking skills but found no time. DekhoSeekho has changed things for her.

“I am no longer embarrassed if I don’t know how to cook a particular dish. I just open the app, quickly learn and cook it. The app has really helped me,” she says.

The manager app

The Manager app, meanwhile, helps home owners instruct their domestic help on a daily basis. The app allows employers to input their instructions, which are automatically forwarded to the Worker app. The set menu option lets them plan menus and avoid daily discussions over “aaj kya banana hai”. In case of additional instructions, employers can also send voice notes to workers through the voice messaging option, allowing seamless communication.

What’s next?

Gauri states that the platform’s revenue model is long term and will soon lend itself to advertisements.
“It is one of the few online products that is tailored for livelihood enhancement for first-time internet users across the country. As the number of internet users rises, we aim to be one of the first platforms for brands to reach these users,” Gauri says.
The platform soon plans to launch online training products for other professions as well. Currently, the brand’s seed capital comes from friends and family, but Gauri open to raising funds to reach end users.
While there are oranisations like Househelp, Nanojobs, Bookmybai and Honestcollars that help you get house staff, DekhoSeekho is the first attempt to upskill these people and improve the quality of their life.
 
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