( ENSPIRE She Did That ) CEO Anita Darden Uses Business Expertise and Tech Knowledge to Partner Reliable Caregivers With Busy Families
ENSPIRE Contributor: Kate Newman
Successful businesswomen and tech czar Anita Darden Gardyne is revolutionizing how people find reliable and well-qualified caregivers. Founded in 2014, the caregiver solution platform, Oneva, functions as an employer-provided benefit connecting employees with trusted caregivers. Oneva’s caregivers offer several caregiving services, including assistance for children, the elderly, pets, and home care. Recognizing the changing dynamics of work and family, Oneva’s platform gives employers the tools to adapt to the modern workforce’s needs while also providing flexible living-wage opportunities to local caregivers.
A key to Oneva’s success in the market is primarily due to companies top-tier leadership. Holding an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and a BA in Economics and Economics in the Black Community from UC Berkeley CEO Anita Darden Gardyne’s credentials speak for themselves. As if her impressive resume wasn’t enough, her real-world experience as not only a working mother but as a caregiver should convince anyone that there is no one better suited to lead Oneva.
What does Oneva bring to the caregiving industry that had been missing previously?
Like so many men and women, I was challenged to find trusted in-home care for my son when he was born, and then again for my daughter some twelve years later. Feeling no other option, just like many women and men, I sacrificed my career and income potential to care for my family. As I actively planned a return to work, I looked at available care options in the marketplace in the hopes I would find a solution to help juggle the challenges of the “sandwich generation”—caring for my kids and aging parents at the same time. Yet the market offered none.
Today, I have the pleasure of operating a technology platform that matches FBI background checked in-home caregivers to customers who need them. The technology, co-developed with Microsoft, is built with enterprise-grade security and privacy in mind because protecting children, elders, and pets in our care is as important as protecting customer data. We are certified as Minority-Owned by the Western Region Management Supplier Development Council and with the Onēva Concierge Care, patented for “trust and safety in in-home care,” we can help companies provide real solutions to their employees as they strive to balance work and family responsibilities.
What stood out to you about Oneva, compared to the other companies you have worked for in the past?
I was incredibly blessed to join AT&T’s executive training program right out of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where I earned my MBA. It granted entry for me into management positions at companies like AT&T, Quantum, Levi Strauss, and IDG. All of those experiences led to my personal mission of extending women’s careers, closing the pay equity gap faster, and creating thousands of living wage jobs—all of which I’m now able to do at Oneva.
What has changed about our family dynamics the make a company like Oneva so necessary?
More than ever, the COVID-19 pandemic stretched parents and families as they struggled to care for children, aging parents, pets, and their professional responsibilities. Our kids have more activities than ever, our parents require more doctor visits and care, and our work expectations have increased simultaneously. With Oneva, the burden of finding the perfect work-life balance is less challenging and the opportunity for job creation is monumental. By entrusting the caregivers to assist with personal responsibilities, employees do not have to make the choice of leaving the workplace. Simultaneously, those seeking work are given an opportunity to make a real difference for themselves, their family, and their community.
What about Oneva attracts caregivers to your platform?
Caregivers on the Oneva Concierge Care platform are independent business owners, who set their wages and hours. Access to trusted care is a human right and so is earning a living rate for delivering quality professional care. At Oneva, we celebrate our caregivers by giving them a great platform for building meaningful professional relationships. We also feel fortunate that by being a part of the Oneva family, they are able to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine since they are deemed, essential workers.
What drove you to study and build a career in business?
My passion for startups began when I attended UC Berkeley at age 15, thanks to a high school program targeting inclusive students. I took an economics class and fell in love. Learning about disparities across groups, I decided to spend my career focused on how to give people who look like me access to large numbers of good-paying jobs that could not be exported.
What advice do you have for young women looking to pursue business as a career?
My childhood foundation gave me the courage to solve one of the biggest problems facing families, especially women while caring for my husband, my children, and my 86-year-old mother. I was able to do this because of the incredible support of teachers, mentors, peers, and business leaders who believed in me and in the value of bringing Oneva to life. It takes a village and for anyone looking to pursue business, forge strong networks, collaborate as much as possible, and believe that you can make anything happen.
Having experienced her own frustrations finding trusted care through the existing marketplace, Gargyne worked closely with tech giant Microsoft to perfect the platform, ensuring that both care providers and receivers have some peace of mind. As the need for quality caregivers continue to rise, no other caregiver solution platform is doing as much as Oneva to ensure that these needs are being met. A certified minority-owned platform, Oneva is the future of caregiving.