Working naked takes off
An unemployed Cape Town accountant last month sold off just about everything in his flat except his laptop and 3G device.
Bills were piling up and he was losing hope when he came across a free service that enables small businesses to build their own website.
By yesterday afternoon Jean-Paul Reid had 25 young men and women on his payroll, working as handymen, accountants, plumbers, computer geeks, cooks and cleaners in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria.
The selling point is that they work semi-naked or nude - if clients prefer.
"It is not sexual; it is purely for entertainment purposes and obviously for the service," said Reid.
"There is a third-year law student who offers light legal advice, and an accountant who could help with your taxes."
Reid, 29, who had no previous IT experience, said his first website was a complete flop. The second creation was basic but worked perfectly.
After posting adverts for staff he at one stage had 500 CVs to wade through.
Most of his clients are men and prefer the cleaning service.
They fork out R700 for two hours, of which Reid pockets R150 and the worker R550.
Many of his employees work part-time and some would otherwise be unemployed.
"I have models and personal trainers. Each person has his or her own story.
"I know how bad the situation can get. I was at a point where I had to sell my possessions. Things got really bad. I had debts and I was completely down and out," said Reid.
"The only thing I had was my laptop and my 3G dongle. I was thinking, God, can't you hear me?"
He said his prayers had been answered and he could hardly believe how his life had changed.
Though he knows that many people would not approve of his business venture, he does not see anything wrong with it.
"If you go to the beach you'll find someone lying there half-naked in just a Speedo. Everything is out there in the open. It's in our faces. Now [with our service] it's just in a more controlled environment - in our homes."
There are strict rules for employees and clients.
"Our staff are for entertainment and not sexual services. Our cleaning staff will not unblock toilets or drains, wash animals or perform any cleaning work that will leave them looking or feeling dirty or smelling undesirable.
"Outside nude services are strictly prohibited," a warning on the website reads.
Reid has big plans, hoping to expand his business to other places in South Africa, neighbouring countries and overseas. There are many visitors to his website from Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Australia and the US.