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A shared-economy solution to formalise the domestic work sector in Southeast Asia

Pink-collar is disruptive innovation to formalise the domestic-work sector in Southeast Asia, by introducing a digital web and mobile platform to directly connect two user groups — domestic workers, and employers of domestic work — into a shared-economy arrangement. Pink-collar’s mission is to create a transparent and ethical job-search and recruitment process for all domestic workers and household employers, and provide bespoke platform features to assist and support users throughout the employment term.


In Malaysia, female migrant domestic workers (‘maids’) from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Cambodia are vulnerable to slave-like work and living conditions, and lack the agency to report any abuses against them. Terms of their employment mandate that they live full-time in their employers’ homes.

Often, maids are forced by middlemen recruitment agencies into signing contracts they don’t understand, suffer from restricted freedoms of movement, bear the brute of exorbitant recruitment debts set by the agencies, and fail to receive adequate skills-training or information about their legal rights.

Escape is often the last resort; a growing number of runaway maid cases has ignited political backlash from the supply-side, as governments set embargoes on domestic labour trade with host-countries.

In Malaysia, this has driven up maid-hiring costs for employers by more than 200% — causing disruptions to the smooth-functioning of local households, and indirectly-exacerbating inefficiencies within the national economy.


Pink-collar is a platform that works to directly connect women and girls from supply-countries seeking domestic work, with prospective employers from host-countries looking to hire them; this shared-economy model is a resource-catered and cost-effective disruption to existing industry practices by middlemen agencies who operate with little transparency and regard for human rights.

The operation is four-fold:
Pink-collar hosts employer and maid profiles, providing the technological capacity and access for employers and maids to undergo a transparent matching process; takes care of the technical and logistical delivery of the service for both user groups; provides follow-up support for employers and maids — e.g. by creating a productivity and assistance toolkit to aid the working experience, a ratings-system and community forum for employers and maids under the Pink-collar ecosystem; and provides maids with meaningful and empowering educational materials to tackle during their rest-days.


Applying the shared-economy model to Southeast Asia’s informal domestic work sector is an unprecedented task; innovation shines through within Pink-collar’s follow-up mechanism, which is designed to engage both user segments into increased intra- and cross-interactions.

Inbuilt platform features aim to continue supporting both groups over the entirety of the contract period.

Identified competitors will be the maid-recruitment agencies from supply- and host-countries in Southeast Asia.

The challenges of implementing Pink-collar include: how to encourage its initial usage, and build a ‘trust’ community with users on the platform; how to build upon initial momentum towards strong user retention; creating conditions for social awareness among employers in host-countries; increasing conditions for platform accessibility for those within the identified demographic, but are digitally-handicapped and/or in hard-to-reach areas; and how to build an empathy- and person-centric core to the business.


Pink-collar can positively impact the growing number of women in Southeast Asia seeking work as maids, and improve the livelihoods of 320,000 foreign maids currently employed by Malaysian households.

Due to the feminised nature of domestic work, Pink-collar has great potential to help promote female empowerment in the world of work (SDG 5: Gender equality), since it combats discrimination faced by maids — who are often regarded as ‘second-class humans’ as a result of their gender, national extraction or caste.

Providing quality education (SDG 4) to this demographic will also create immeasurable impact.

Pink-collar’s backbone lies within SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, and Goal 10.7 — “to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people […] through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies,” alongside Indicator 10.7.1 to measure impact (“Recruitment cost borne by employee as a proportion of yearly income earned in country of destination”).

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