Starting in early 2018, residents of the Ukrainian capital will be able to enjoy state-of-the-art Swedish home cleaning services courtesy of new market entrant Assistanspoolen. This Swedish company has an ambitious agenda in Ukraine that anticipates the launch of an expanding range of services over the coming months, with the goal of creating a platform for the company’s core activity: the provision of empowering care and support for the disabled.
The Assistanspoolen story began 22 years ago in Sweden, when the family of company owners Carina and Christer Ryder sought to create an enhanced care environment for Carina’s disabled sister Anette that would allow her to lead as fulfilling a life as possible. The company has since expanded its services in Sweden, offering an innovative brand of care for disabled Swedes. Assistanspoolen enjoys access to state support in Sweden, but the company’s business model in Ukraine envisages the launch of services including home and office cleaning along with preschool, nanny and elderly care services that will then help to finance the provision of comprehensive care for disabled Ukrainians.
Scandinavian Service Standards
The first step of Assistanspoolen’s Ukrainian expansion plans will be the launch of home cleaning services in the first months of 2018. The co-author of the company’s cleaning service model in Ukraine is the former owner of the largest Swedish home and office cleaning service, who has helped to create a framework that meets the needs of the Ukrainian market while taking into account the best practices of the contemporary Swedish model. Cleaners will utilize high-tech solutions in order to create tailored digital guidelines for individual homes complete with room-by-room instructions, while clients will be able to provide real-time instructions and communicate any specific requirements digitally. The available technology will even make it possible for homeowners to identify specific items that need particular care or attention.
Recruitment is already underway, with an anticipated 100 cleaners expected to complete training at the company’s newly established Ukrainian academy by February 2018. The work of the academy borrows heavily on the company’s more than two decades of experience in Sweden and involves a multifaceted approach to personal and professional development dubbed “Life Leadership”. Ongoing training is a core part of the Assistanspoolen ethos, with cleaning staff participating in an annual cycle of training covering everything from the ethics of client confidentiality to the technical aspects of cleaning things like kitchen appliances. As the company expands the range of services it offers in Ukraine, those who have already qualified as cleaners or academy leaders will have the opportunity to apply for more senior positions within the company as managers, nannies or care providers.
One of the more obvious challenges facing this Swedish arrival on the Ukrainian market will be promoting services in a country where many rely on informal cleaning arrangements to meet their domestic needs. Kyiv has a flourishing shadow industry of cleaners drawn from local communities who often play the role of multipurpose helpers in the homes of middle and upper class families. Assistanspoolen owner Carina Ryder says she is well aware of current local residential cleaning market realities but sees considerable potential demand for the levels of service she aims to provide. “First of all, we are talking about top-notch quality,” she says.
In addition to the kind of professionalism her team can offer, Mrs. Ryder also believes that security, reliability and consistency will be important factors. “If you rely on the same cleaner on a regular basis, what happens if they become ill or if their circumstances change in some other way? We are offering a system that takes care of this risk while providing peace of mind. In our model, we can guarantee a consistently high level of quality and reliability whoever comes to clean your home, while also offering the kind of security and peace of mind you’d expect from an experienced international company.”
As the Assistanspoolen offer expands in Ukraine, they hope to be able to launch care services for disabled and elderly Ukrainians by mid-2018. The social entrepreneurial model adopted by the Swedish company should make it possible to provide care free of charge to the most needy, while also making these services available commercially for those able to afford it. They take the social responsibility and commit 4% of turnover to the non-profit organization AP Care.
This is the company’s first experience operating outside of Sweden. Mrs. Ryder says it represents a long-held personal ambition of hers to contribute to the wellbeing of disabled people internationally. The choice of Ukraine was due to preexisting ties between one of her Assistanspoolen colleagues and a Ukrainian charity. Mrs. Ryder first visited the country in late 2016. She says spending time in the homes of families with disabled children proved a distressing experience, while she also took inspiration from the humanity and resilience of the Ukrainians she encountered. “It just feels right,” she reflects. “We like it here and we love the people. It is also only two hours from Stockholm.”
Ultimately, Mrs. Ryder hopes their company can play a role in the process of overcoming taboos and helping those with disability to play a fuller role in Ukrainian society. “We would like to help remove the stigma attached to disability that is present in all societies, not just in Ukraine. Sweden is certainly not perfect in this respect, but disability remains a major taboo in today’s Ukraine. We would like to help society deal better with disability. Ukrainians should not feel that they must hide disabled relatives away or send them to foreign countries in order to get the care they require. They should be able to live their lives here in Ukraine without fear or prejudice.”