Training graceful maids and nannies in the digital age

Kate Karuri

Kate Karuri founded Graceful Global, a coaching programme that trains domestic workers and their employers on how to get along and workplace dignity. 

Photo credit: Pool

There have been notable changes in the fields of domestic assistance services and childcare. The custom of employing nannies has changed dramatically over time, moving from outdated styles to a more contemporary approach. Technological breakthroughs and a rising understanding of the value of work-life balance drive this shift.

The need for professional nanny services has increased as a result of the significant changes in the socioeconomic landscape brought about by increased urbanisation. To handle childcare duties while parents pursue employment outside the home, families often require outside assistance.

It is from this realisation that Kate Karuri launched a coaching programme that teaches domestic workers and their employers about workplace dignity, after managing and overseeing house helpers herself for more than 17 years, she chose to coach nannies, maids, and employers of domestic workers to make sure that everyone recognises and honours the other's position.

Karuri started with two exceptional maids who had been integral to her household for several years. Recognising their strengths and dedication, she endeavoured to secure placements for them in other homes when they left her care. Transparency was crucial in this process, as she candidly shared each maid's strengths and weaknesses with prospective employers. Witnessing the contentment in both the maids and their new employers brought her immense satisfaction.

To share insights and educate others on fostering positive relationships with their maids and nannies, she took to Instagram.

“I used this platform, to share informative content about understanding and living harmoniously with domestic workers. The positive response and appreciation from followers encouraged me to delve deeper into coaching services within the domestic worker industry,” she says, adding that this marked the beginning of her journey towards transforming homes, fostering understanding, and upholding ethical standards in the industry.

With Sh900 which she used to register on eCitizen, her background in IT, and a laptop, Karuri founded Graceful Global in Nairobi in January 2023 as a coaching programme on how to get along with employers and domestic workers.

Kate Karuri

Kate Karuri during an online coaching session. Her motivation stems from the widespread misconceptions in the domestic business. 

Photo credit: Pool

“I was unwavering in my commitment to daily social media engagement. This consistency played a pivotal role in steadily growing our followers. In the initial stages, I experimented with advertising, sponsored ads, and collaborated with influencers to experience and endorse our services.”

Karuri clarifies that they are not a domestic help agency as they work differently from bureaus since they do not source, choose, and assign maids within houses.

The majority of Graceful Global's clientele is from Nairobi, while there are also some from Mombasa and Meru. Nairobi is where most of the maid and nanny coaching clients are found. She clarifies though, that there are no geographical limitations to the online cohort programmes.

"Agency and bureau owners prefer one-on-one, in-person sessions, but it can also be done online in a group format. This format allows for in-depth conversations about any difficulties they may be having,” she says.

Karuri conducts sessions for maids and nannies at the client's home if the domestic worker is already employed, or at her home if she is not yet placed.

The coaching programme can be shortened to nine days for nannies and maids who are already employed to meet their current schedules. This strategy makes sure that during the coaching program, there is minimal disruption to their routine.

But if they are being trained from Karuri’s home, they take 20 days to train as she says that’s easier than going to train them at the client’s homes.

Kate Karuri

Kate Karuri founded Graceful Global, a coaching programme that trains domestic workers and their employers on how to get along and workplace dignity.

Photo credit: Pool

“We counsel employers on how to live in harmony with their maids and nannies, instruct maids on efficient housekeeping and cultivating positive employer relationships, and mentor nannies on childcare and upholding a positive working relationship.”

This, she says gives the client security that their home is under the best care possible and gives the worker confidence to dispense their duties diligently.

Karuri gets to be consulted by bureau and agency owners, providing advice on moral placements and helping potential owners set up and run morally responsible, high-calibre bureaus and agencies.

Effective communication, professionalism and attitude as well as boundaries and privacy, are among the topics covered in the training sessions—skills that are commonly disregarded when employing domestic help.

Based on the latest data from the International Labour Organisation, Kenya, a country with a population of approximately 53 million, employs roughly two million domestic workers.

However, very few of those individuals know their rights or where to get assistance.

Kenya has several laws that protect the rights of domestic workers. These include the right to fair compensation and ergonomic workplaces. Furthermore, companies are mandated by law to make contributions to the National Security and Social Funds, as well as the National Hospital Insurance Funds, of their workforce; nevertheless, the majority of employers fail to comply with this obligation, as per research findings.

In many cases, the situation is the same all over Africa. Millions of women are employed informally in this field, and they have little access to the laws designed to protect both employers and employees.

Karuri's coaching programmes address these issues and ensure that the legislation and rights are covered. Graduates are awarded certificates after the coaching programme.

She urges employers to continue granting their domestic staff more authority, emphasizing that the coaching they provide is just the beginning.

Her motivation stems from the widespread misconceptions in the domestic business, which she notes exist between nannies and employers, between maids and employers, and even between bureaus/agencies and the people they serve.

Since its inception, Graceful has had the privilege of serving over 150 clients. Beyond formal coaching sessions, they have extended their support to others through 'therapy’ where they provide a listening ear, understanding the specific challenges they are facing, and assisting them in finding resolutions.

Offering a variety of services and products to revolutionise the domestic worker sector, their online store at HustleSasa charges Sh100 for their useful resources, which include schedules and checklists, payroll management records, and leave records.

Comprehensive e-books that cover a variety of themes utilised in training go for Sh1,000. Group coaching services for employers cost Sh20,000. Group coaching sessions for bureau or agency owners cost Sh20,000. The group sessions are delivered online and normally take 20 days.

Individualised online coaching sessions are offered for Sh30,000.

“The cost of maid and nanny training, which is provided at the homes of the clients is Sh20,000, with the employer paying the associated costs. We issue certificates after the completion of the coaching programs,” she says.

She observes that by raising awareness of the intricate complexities within interactions between employers, nannies, maids, bureaus, and agencies, they are significantly changing society. According to Karuri, people can efficiently source domestic workers with the use of their coaching and resources.

“They now know how important it is to conduct in-depth reference and background checks, choose people who would fit in well with their houses, and ask the proper questions during interviews. Our impact extends to maids and nannies,” she says, "They now have a heightened awareness of their value in homes and society at large, and they are learning how their employers should treat them, which is creating better working conditions.

Furthermore, bureaus and agencies are realising that unethical behaviour is detrimental to their business. Since clients demand integrity, being truthful and open when giving information about potential maids and nannies has become essential.