Uphelele Projects: A Social Impact Business


In a world where the consumer is more discerning than ever before, leaders in many businesses are racking their brains trying to figure out just how to position themselves to stay in favor of the market. Often this leads to quite simply allocating CSI budget to a cause that their target demographic or psychographic would relate to or care about.

This poses a challenge in itself: As consumers, we’re left wondering which brands are actually living out the cause they’ve so publicly pledged to support to gain our trust and patronage [as in, when the leaders of those businesses are at home with only their closest friends – do they really still walk that talk?]… or if their CSI pledge is just a marketing gimmick to maintain market share?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know and in most cases only time will really tell. However, every now and then, you come across a business and you meet its’ leaders and you just know “This is the real deal. They are the real thing.”

This brings us to Uphelele Maintenance Projects. Run by two female entrepreneurs, Uphelele Projects was founded as a business with impact at it’s core. In fact, they aim to create lasting impact in not one, but three areas: Social, Economic and Environmental.

And this is how they pull it off:

  • Social: Through people development. By giving career and personal development opportunities to all the staff at Uphelele. These development opportunities change lives and tey believe can change a nation.
  • Economy: By providing sustainable employment opportunities, Uphelele creates more economically active citizens. This leading to a healthier, stronger local economy. South Africa’s unemployment rate is at a record high of 32,5% at the time of writing according to Reuters.
  • Environmental: Uphelele strictly uses environmentally-friendly products in their operations from cleaning supplies to maintenance materials.

When asked to describe their company, founders say:

“Uphelele Maintenance is a social impact company using commercial cleaning as a vehicle”

What is a social impact company?

They chose cleaning as a vehicle because according to them. South Africa’s most economically vulnerable citizens usually take on jobs as cleaners and they wanted to be able to reach this demographic with their model

Based in the winelands region of the Western Cape, South Africa – Uphelele Projects is rapidly expanding and they are working towards having a national presence in by 2023.

By the way, the word ‘uphelele’ is the Zulu word for ‘perfect’… How awesome is that? Uphelele Projects is damn near perfect in our eyes and we have big resect for this #BrandAndBusiness.

What are your thoughts? Write to us at goodwork@spiralsm.com and let us know what you think about this South African social impact business.