Open Society Announces Investment to Improve Labor Rights for Domestic Workers

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Date January 21, 2022
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NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations’ impact investing arm, the Soros Economic Development Fund, announced a $1.75 million investment in Symplifica, leading the company’s $3 million pre-Series A round. Acumen LatAm Impact Ventures (ALIVE) and InQLab also participated to raise funding for the company’s growth in Colombia and expansion into Mexico.

Colombia-based Symplifica was established to simplify the formalization process for households to employ their domestic workers legally, seeking to improve working conditions and access to benefits across the Latin American region.

A decade after International Labour Organization member states adopted ILO Domestic Workers Convention, 189, Latin America has seen gradual improvements in the legislative framework that extends labor rights to the region’s 20 million domestic workers. However, for reasons ranging from lack of awareness to cultural attitudes, informality remains prevalent at around 80 percent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the plight of essential workers, especially those employed informally. Many have had their employment contracts canceled, their pay suspended, or were forced to work without adequate social safety measures. In rebuilding post-COVID, it is essential to do so in the right way, offering essential workers the decent working conditions they are entitled to.

According to Symplifica’s founders, Omar Perdomo and Salua Garcia, a significant obstacle to formalizing domestic workers is the registration process and the tools and information to do it right. Symplifica offers a subscription model to facilitate formalizing the employment relationship and managing monthly payroll, aiming to support households that find the local registration and human resources requirements to be cumbersome.

“Symplifica’s work as an intermediary is crucial and unique in making it easier for families to act as responsible employers, while improving the recognition and benefits of paid domestic workers,” said Catherine Cax, the Soros Economic Development Fund’s director of investments. This investment is part of a broader effort by the Open Society Foundations to advance labor rights and drive innovations to accelerate changes and promote better conditions for women care workers worldwide.