Grace & Saskia Join The Fix Forward Team

CAPE TOWN – As we prepare for a big year, we are proud to present the two newest members of the Fix Forward team –  Grace de Jager (Operations Coordinator) and Saskia Schroder (Client Services). Having both recently graduated, Grace and Saskia impressed us with their passionate enthusiasm for fostering South African entrepreneurship.

We sat down with Grace and Saskia to chat about their new roles and aspirations.

1. How did you come to work at Fix Forward? What is your background?

Grace (G): Born and raised in Cape Town, I graduated from UCT as a social worker at the end of 2017. I have always had a heart for empowering others and seeing people reach their full potential. I believe that relationship is one of the keys to enabling others and seeing people flourish, as people journey together in life. After knowing Josh and hearing about the vision of Fix Forward, I was excited to get on board!

Saskia (S): I finished studying a BSc in Genetics and Biochemistry at the end of 2017 and wanted to start working straight away. I really wanted to learn administration skills and develop myself in a business role so when I received the application manifesto for Fix Forward from a friend, I was quick to apply.

2. What is your role in the team and what traits will help you succeed?

G: Formally I am the Operations Coordinator. My role is to give input to the operational side of Fix Forward, from streamlining systems to daily tasks. In addition to this and being a part-time professional photographer and videographer, I give insight into the marketing and creative component to Fix Forward. I will also be overseeing the recruitment and training processes. I think what will help me succeed is the fact that I have a diverse set of skills, and am therefore able to operate in a few capacities which is something I really enjoy doing.

S: I am the Client Services Officer. I love administration and am an organized perfectionist. Nothing satisfies me more than to do a job to the best of my ability and ensure that everyone is happy with the final product.

3. Had you heard of Fix Forward before working there?

G: Yes, I have known Josh for a few years from our church community and so had heard what Fix Forward were doing.

S: No, but that’s not surprising as my focus was pretty much always on my studies.

4. Has anyone you know used Fix Forward or been part of the program?

G: I know a few people who have used our services, but do not know anyone who has been in the programme.

S: Not yet!

 

Saskia (L) and Grace (R) outside Fix Forward HQ

5. Where do you see the company going in 2018?

G: I see big things for Fix Forward this year! Knowing that we are investing more of our finances and manpower to see the business grow, I believe that we have the potential expand to other parts of South Africa and begin to become a household name in the industry.

S: I see the company really growing with the launch of the new app and with the goal of launching in Johannesburg at the end of the year. There is so much room for this company to grow and there is such a need for this kind of work in South Africa. Everyone we speak to buys into the vision of Fix Forward.

6. If you had to describe Fix Forward in under 10 words, how would you?

G: Fix Forward makes any job a joy while empowering others.

S: A company with vision to see South African businesses thrive.

7. What inspires you most about South Africa / Cape Town?

G: I love the diversity of South Africa. I am inspired by this diversity and the vision to see the divide between different South Africans broken.

S: The hope people have for the future and the potential this country has for greatness.

8. Fun fact about yourself?

G: I’m addicted to coffee. Real coffee! Not the fake stuff.

S: My dream is to manage a wine farm.

Thanks for chatting to us Grace and Saskia – all the best for a busy and successful year ahead!

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2018: The Year Ahead for Fix Forward

CAPE TOWN – While 2017 was an incredible year for Fix Forward and our tradesmen, we’re looking ever forward and preparing for an even bigger 2018. With several key milestones on the horizon, the Fix Forward team are working hard to ensure that they continue to provide increasing opportunities for tradesmen to work, learn and grow.

We recently sat down with Fix Forward founder, Joshua Cox, to discuss the key focus areas for the year ahead. Josh identified four milestone projects which are first outlined and then discussed in further detail below:

1. To better understand Fix Forward’s impact using the Poverty Stoplight measurement tool. Fix Forward are conducting a baseline assessment with 25 tradesmen at the beginning and end of the year to measure the impact we’ve made on their businesses and their lives.

2. Launch our Web Application that will make it much easier for client to log a job, receive quotes and invoices and track the progress.

3. On-boarding 50 new tradesmen funded by Nedbank.

4. Preparing to launch Gauteng operations towards the end of the year.

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joshua cox fix forward

Founder and CEO, Joshua Cox.

Poverty Stoplight

Is this a Fix Forward initiative?

It’s not actually. It was developed by Fundacion Paraguaya in Paraguay and is now being used by non-profits and governments around the world. We created an alternate version of it together with the people from the Poverty Stoplight office in SA. This additional version is designed for people who are not living in dire poverty but there is still a big need for improvements of their quality of life.

Could you explain what the baseline assessment comprises of?

The original version consists of 50 indicators relating to health, infrastructure, services, income and a number of other categories. People do a self-assessment as to whether their situation matches the scenario for Red (dire poverty) Orange (poor) and Green (out of poverty). You can check out more at www.povertystoplight.org.za.

Is this purely for research purposes? What will come of the results?

We are using it as a tool to understand the real impact that our work is having on the tradesmen as well as to see what are some other areas where we can provide support. There is a baseline assessment done now and then a follow up assessment in a year from now.

Web Application

When is this scheduled to go live?

We plan to launch in early February. The web app will be mobile-friendly too.

What are the key functionalities? 

1. Log a Job; 2. Receive Quotes; 3. Track Progress and 4. Receive Invoices. 5. Provide Feedback. We have also developed an algorithm that matches clients to the most suitable tradesman for the job.

Nedbank

Can you elaborate on this partnership? How did it come about?

We approached them in 2016 and have been engaging with them ever since. Towards the end of 2017 they generously offered to fund the training of 50 new tradesmen in Cape Town and 50 tradesmen up in Gauteng, as part of their enterprise development spend. We are extremely grateful for this partnership. It’s a very exciting time!

How will the 50 tradesmen be selected?

We are using our usual vetting process, checking that the tradesmen are reliable, do quality work and are excited and committed to improving their business.

Gauteng Office

When are you launching?

We are aiming to launch in Gauteng towards the end of 2018, somewhere in the north of Johannesburg like Fourways or Bryanston.

Why Gauteng?

There is a huge social need and a great business opportunity. Thousands of tradesmen need more business and the skills to become successful entrepreneurs. There is also a great deal of property development under way which presents us with a compelling commercial opportunity.

How will you ensure quality and consistency through the expansion process?

We are very focused on using the first 6-9 months of 2018 to develop strong business systems that can easily be duplicated to get consistency across Cape Town and Gauteng. Our app will also play a big role in ensuring that we deliver a great customer experience on each job. Lastly, we will be launching the Gauteng branch with a further 50 Nedbank-funded tradesmen who have all met our strict quality control standards.

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Fix Forward is set to launch in Gauteng in Q4 of 2018.

Fix Forward Takes on Large Projects – Part 1

CAPE TOWN – After years successfully refining our tradesman development programme and platform, Fix Forward is proud to announce that we are now able to offer on-site project management services for large projects. With professional project manager Armien Harris at the helm, Fix Forward’s new service aims to help clients minimise risk and ensure that projects are completed on time and in budget. Armien is also able to give advice to the clients and builders, given his extensive building project management experience.

We sat down with Fix Forward’s Joshua Cox and Armien Harris to find out more about this new service.

 

Joshua Cox, Fix Forward Founder

How did this new change in direction come about?

In talking to our customers we discovered that most people wanting to do renovations have little experience in managing building contractors. If you cannot afford the high fees of a full-time project manager, this can make for a pretty stressful experience! One of the main reasons that people choose to use Fix Forward is because they trust that we will send them a reliable tradesmen who will deliver a great service. Our guarantee on the workmanship gives people real peace of mind. We rarely need to visit clients on site as our tradesmen are on top of things. With bigger projects where other contractors are often involved it does take some extra effort (and expertise!) to ensure that things go smoothly. We can now provide this support to people who cannot afford a project manager.

On what sort of projects will FF be able to offer this service?

We will offer this service, at no additional cost, on all building projects over R30 000.

How will the service work?

Armien, our Performance Manager superstar will visit the site during the quoting stage, where he will be able to give both the client and the builder advice as necessary. Once the quote has been accepted he will meet with the tradesman and client on-site to ensure there is a good project plan in place that is realistic. He will then be on-site to check on the progress once every two weeks, with a telephonic check-in every other week. If there are issues that come up he will be on-site weekly, sometimes even more frequently, to ensure things get back on track.

 

Armien Harris, Performance Manager

How will this impact Fix Forward’s builders? 

The builders will benefit from the on-site support given by Armien, learning from his experience and sharpening their own project management skills. This aligns perfectly with our mission to help our tradesmen and builders realise their full potential.

Operations Coordinator Armien Harris is responsible for both recruiting tradesmen and mentoring the tradesmen while he oversees the delivering of our e-Learning programme and coaching. In this way, Armien uses his extensive experience to both directly and pass on best practice values in the construction industry. For more on Armien, check out our blog on our E-Learning Program.

What are your goals for this division?

In terms of the builders, our goal here is to bring in larger contracts for them to increase their revenue and help grow their businesses. For the customers the bigger projects carry the highest risks both in terms of stress and financial burden in the event that projects run long and builders disappear before completion. Our goal here it to make the building experience a pleasure for people. Building or improving your home should be more exciting than it is stressful. Our aim is to create that experience for our customers.

Keep an eye out for our next blog Fix Forward Takes on Large Projects – Part 2′ where we’ll chat to a recent client who was one of the first to benefit from the new service.

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Fix Forward’s E-Learning Program: Part 2

CAPE TOWN – Following on from Fix Forward’s E-Learning Program: Part 1, in this final post of the mini-series we meet Anack Amini and John Hopley, two tradesmen who have recently completed their e-learning modules and workshops, and chat to them about their experience of the learning material and Fix Forward in general.

Profile #1: Anack Amini (Builder)

FF: How long have you been with Fix Forward?

I’ve been with Fix Forward for one year now. It started out as just me and an apprentice in a broken down bakkie. Now I employ six people and have two company vehicles!

FF: How have the e-learning materials benefitted you?

The courses really helped me to handle my projects and day-to-day business better. I’ve also improved my planning and the way I deal with clients now.

FF: What has been the most valuable thing you learnt?

Learning about project management; the break down and guidelines provided were very useful and still are today!

FF: Has Fix Forward made a difference when it comes to gaining new and returning clients?

Yes! Since joining I have had a lot more of my quotes approved. For example, I recently landed a very large tender in Constantia so I am very happy about my journey here.

 

Fix Forward success story, Anack Amini

Profile #2: John Hopley (Plumber)

John, an experienced plumber from Athlone, joined us a year ago after being referred from a friend.

FF: What did you find most valuable about the e-learning material?

I learnt how to deal with people and how to have the right approach when things don’t go my way. Furthermore, learning about negotiation has helped me get a lot more of my quotes accepted.

FF: What was the most challenging part of the course for you?

I took a bit of time learning about technology and how to use computers, but now I can confidently say things are running smoothly and you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks!

FF: What are your future goals?

I’d like to give back to my community. There’s a lot of uneducated guys from the streets that have skill and talent but no opportunity. I would really like to develop them.

I currently employ one person full time and it is my purpose to grow that. I know where these guys have been because I was there too and I am so lucky to be given another chance, so I’d like to do the same for them.

 

John outside Fix Forward HQ

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Fix Forward’s E-Learning Program: Part 1

CAPE TOWN – In part one of two in a series focusing on Fix Forward’s entrepreneur development programme, we chat to our Operations Coordinator Armien Harris. A vital part of our business, Armien is responsible for recruiting tradesmen, providing on-site support to clients for larger construction projects, mentoring the tradesmen and overseeing the delivering of our e-Learning programme and coaching. In this post we focus on the latter and find out how Armien uses his extensive experience to pass on best practice values in the construction industry.

FF: Tell us a little about Fix Forward’s educational component?

Fix Forward is a registered enterprise development beneficiary that runs programs to develop grassroots entrepreneurs from low-income areas. We offer mentoring, e-Learning, personal coaching, and workshop sessions all designed to develop our tradesmen’s skill in managing and growing a business.

Our partner tradesmen are all in the construction and renovations industry. When these entrepreneurs succeed, the benefits spread widely throughout their communities as they hire and train more local workers.

 

Armien Harris

FF: What is the duration of the electronic courses?

The e-learning courses can take anything from a week to a month to complete, depending on the tradesman’s commitment and schedule. The workshops – which run for about 10 months – are based on the curriculum in the e-learning courses so we encourage tradesmen to develop a study plan that best suits their schedule as early as possible. Although the courses and workshops are compulsory, there are a number of different course completion deadlines to allow for flexibility.

FF: What incentives do tradesmen have to complete the course? 

The courses and workshops are required in order for tradesmen to remain on our platform. We strongly believe in education and self-improvement and have developed our educational program on these principles. We are also duty bound to ensure our clients get the service and quality that we guarantee, so constant learning keeps all of our trade professionals at the top of their game!

The courses cover areas such as:

  • Managing Finances
  • Effective Marketing
  • Professional Quoting
  • Project Management
  • Tax and Compliance

Check out Fix Forward’s E-Learning Program Part 2  where we chat to two tradesmen about their experience of the e-learning program.

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Fix Forward’s Guide to Choosing a Builder

CAPE TOWN – Selecting a builder to build or renovate your home is undoubtedly one of the biggest decisions of the whole project. With so much at stake when it comes to choosing your contractor, we sat down with our Operations Coordinator Armien Harris – an expert with years of experience in managing high-end building projects – to chat about selecting the right person for your specific building requirements in our latest post.

1. Building Scope

Firstly, consider the scope of work and aim to get an experienced builder used to working on those type of projects. After years in the industry, contractors often begin to specialise in particular aspects of construction. Outline what the unique or challenging aspects are of your project and then focus your search on specialists in those areas.

 

Fix Forward Plumbing

Kitchen specialists install a new kitchen for a recent client

2. Only Use Trusted Tradesmen

In the building industry, referrals and references from previous clients or associates are invaluable. Some contractors are excellent salesmen who might sound accomplished, but a quick call to a previous client would soon reveal that their workmanship was poor or their attitude unprofessional. Be sure to obtain references from as many sources as possible and verify previous work quality.

Ask for information on the project that he is currently busy with. Visit the site and speak to the owner. If the builder is in financial difficulty on that project, then chances are that he needs your project to finance the completion of that one. Chat to us about builders you can trust!

Here are a few more handy points to consider:

 

  • Obtain Quotes from at least three builders
  • Make sure your builder is registered with the NHBRC and other professional associations. Please note though that NHBRC registered contractors are not always quality builders. If the builder is registered, you can also get a Bank Grading on them.
  • Check that your builder has a valid insurance policy in place to adequately cover the project and personal liability
  • Check the registration details of the electrical subcontractor and the plumbing subcontractor that your builder will be using with their respective associations. This is very important. Electricians who are not registered with the Electrical Contracting Board of S.A. are not permitted to sign an Electrical Compliance Certificate.
  • Be aware of items that have been deliberately excluded by the builder from his quote. You will have to install and pay for those items yourself. Check if that item is excluded from the other quotes as well so that a proper comparison can be made.
  • Avoid lump sum quotes. Having a breakdown of the various items gives you better control and a better basis for comparison.
  • Apart from the quote that your builder will give you, which you will be expected to sign, make sure that you have a valid building contract signed by your builder and yourself in place.
  • Make sure that you have a payment schedule worked out before you sign any contracts. You will be investing a lot of money in your building project. Consider contracting a Quantity Surveyor to cost and run bigger projects.

 

A few of Fix Forward’s finest!

Skip the hassle – use Fix Forward

With Fix Forward you can rest assured that all of our tradesmen are rigorously screened before acceptance. We contact up to three references, review multiple past projects and conduct a thorough round of interviews and assessments before any applicant is accepted.

Once part of the Fix Forward platform, all of our have full access to our e-learning training and workshop on how to further professionalise their businesses and deliver great service. Furthermore, all of our subcontractors are registered with the regulatory boards as required so all work exceeds SABS standards.

Lastly, in order to ensure customer satisfaction, all of our tradesmen are required to maintain a certain user rating based on our customer review system.

Once building is underway Fix Forward will visit larger projects, both during quoting and when the project is active, to provide clients with advice and ensure that builders keep on track with the work. This is especially valuable for people who haven’t yet had experience in overseeing building projects.

Skip the hassle and use Fix Forward for professional service that’s quality guaranteed!

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#FixForwardFix: Protecting Your Home Against Fires

CAPE TOWN – As we move into fire season many of us will be thinking about the precautions we can take to keep our homes safe. With water scarcity a very real concern, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to making your home as fireproof as possible. In the latest #FixForwardFix, we take a look at a few easy to implement DIY tips and tricks to safeguard your home this fire season. With a few simple precautions, you can protect against both starting fires in the home and minimising the threat of wildfires outside.

1. Draw Up a Fire Safety Plan

In the unfortunate event of a fire, make sure that you and your family members are aware of the best way to get safely out of the danger zone, quickly. Decide on an assembly point outside that is free from overhanging objects and away from any flammable objects if possible. Once you’re all there, call the fire department for help.

2. Get a Fire Extinguisher

A household fire extinguisher is one of the most important elements in fireproofing your home. Varying considerably in size and price, make sure that your extinguisher conforms to SABS standards and has not expired. Keep your extinguisher(s) somewhere that is easily accessible to where you might need it most, for example the kitchen. Regular servicing will keep your extinguisher ready for action when things get heated.

3. Install Smoke Detectors

Small and relatively inexpensive, smoke detectors can be vital in alerting you to fires or smoke when you are sleeping or otherwise distracted. Easy to install, most smoke detectors only need a few AA batteries to run and are pretty much maintenance free. Keep your batteries charged and your smoke detector will prove invaluable in an emergency.

4. Maintain Electrical Outlets

Fortunately, many household fires are avoidable with proper electrical maintenance. The electricity coursing through the mainlines makes for a deadly fire starter if not correctly insulated or controlled. Inspect all of the wiring and outlets in your house – are there any frayed or exposed wires? Is the cable of your appliance damaged? Repair or replace any wires or other electrical components that are not properly insulated or have your house checked by one of our certified electricians if you’re unsure.

5. Never Leave an Open Flame Unattended

Whether you’re burning a candle, boiling the kettle, or having a braai, never (ever) leave a flame unattended. A fire can go from being under control to raging in a very short space of time, so keep a keen eye on any and all flames in your home.

 

A recent fire on Signal Hill in Cape Town.

6. Clear Combustible Debris From Around Your Home

Keeping your yard or garden clear from combustible debris like dry grass, dead leaves or fallen branches is an excellent way to protect your home. The clearer your home is from anything that can catch alight, the better. If you have access to a nearby water source, make sure you know of the quickest way to get to it.

7. Secure Your Roof

With the Cape’s propensity for really heavy winds in summer, burning embers blowing through the air are a major fire and safety hazard. Inspect your roof to ensure that there are no gaps or openings that an ember could land in. If possible, replace your existing roof finish with a fire retardant material such as treated wood or terracotta. Sounds like a job for one of our expert tradesmen!

8. Store Combustible Materials Safely

If you have gas, paraffin or any other flammable material in your home, be sure to store it in a safe place that is dry, cool and out of direct sunlight. Hazardous materials should also be stored in a place that is not easily accessible by children.

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We hope that you and your family are safe during fire season. Remember that these guidelines are just that – we do not offer professional fire protection advice. Lastly, our thanks and appreciation go out to all of our firefighters – both professional and volunteer – over this grueling period. Keep up the good work!

 

Meet Dorea Muller – Our International Intern

CAPE TOWN –  Fix Forward enjoys a longstanding partnership with several organisations and institutions around the world, and these relationships enable us to share knowledge and expertise with others in the social development sphere. One such organisation is Pangaya, which places students in internship positions all over the world.
Over the years, we have benefitted greatly from several international and local interns who each contribute new energy and fresh insights to the team and the work we do. These individuals assist us with projects and tasks such as marketing analysis, improvements to our entrepreneur development programme and testing our new technology – such as our soon to be launched web application.

Dorea Muller is the latest intern from abroad to join us here at Fix Forward HQ in Cape Town. Dorea is a 26 year old student at the University of Augsburg, Germany and is joining us for three months while she works on the practical application of her academic pursuits. We thought we’d get to know her a little better…

Why did you choose South Africa and Fix Forward for an internship? 

I’m currently busy finishing off my global business management degree and needed to do a three month internship to complete it.  I have traveled to South Africa before and found the history and political system fascinating compared to where I come from in Germany. I’ve always seen myself working in the NPO/NGO industry so Fix Forward was a great choice and I love the fact that it works differently to “pure aid”, which of course is great during a crisis, but I like that it’s a long term approach and more about empowerment than anything else.

 

Dorea Muller at Fix Forward HQ

How long is the programme and what have you been busy with? 

The internship is three months long and i’ve been here for one month now. The first two weeks revolved a lot around getting to know the systems, learning about the structures and meeting the team and tradesmen. Right now I’m busy doing researching and testing the Fix Forward App.

What is your day-to-day role at Fix Forward?

Normal intern stuff, but I focus mainly on the E-learning courses and assisting with changing or improving the structure.

What do you wish to achieve during your time here? 

I’d like to gain more experience working with NPO’s and learn more about how to run an organisation with independent funding; I think it’s brilliant that Fix Forward is headed this way! I’d also like to get more familiar with South African culture and social dynamics.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your visit so far? 

It has been very challenging to experience real social inequality around every corner – sometimes you can feel the tension. That’s why it has been so amazing to see a company work so hard to try and change that.

On the other side of the coin, what has been the most inspiring? 

I’ve gotten to witness the hunger to achieve something in life regardless of how bumpy the road has been – these guys have a willingness to never give up and it’s truly inspirational!

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Catching Up With Kingstone – Fix Forward’s Longest Partnering Tradesman 

CAPE TOWN – As Fix Forward continues to grow and expand, the relationships we have with our tradesmen become ever more important. We pride ourselves on delivering a quality service, as well as encouraging entrepreneurship, and we could not do that without our network of highly skilled tradesmen who have embarked on this journey with us. There from the very beginning, Kingstone Katuruza was our very first tradesman back in 2010 and has been with us ever since. We caught up with him to chat about his time with Fix Forward so far…

1) Tell us about yourself and how the journey at Fix Forward started?

Originally from Zimbabwe, I am 42 and proud to call myself a business owner that specializes in the painting industry. I found my passion in 1994 back when I was working for construction companies in my homeland. Although I grew in the field, I felt that I was being taken advantage of and not getting my fair rate. I came alone to South Africa seeking better opportunities for my family and of course to learn about how things worked over here.

I met Josh through one of the elders at my church that I had done a painting job for. At the time, I was standing at traffic lights with my roller and flyers ready, trying to meet new clients. Josh took me onboard and I started with the Fix Forward training courses shortly after. The team at Fix Forward acted as my mentors for more than a year – I gained so much confidence and skills in that time.  Although I was always confident in my ability as a painter, the mentoring really developed my skills in other departments such as managing my admin, quoting and how to keep your clients happy in order to get referrals in return.

2) As Fix Forward’s longest serving tradesmen, how has your life changed since you joined the team?

My business officially kicked off in 2012 and at the time I was only getting clients in Somerset West. After getting the exposure through the Fix Forward website, I started getting jobs all over Cape Town! I was quite reliant on Fix Forward in the beginning with helping out but now I have the confidence and ability to gain new clients on my own.

Personally, Fix Forward has enabled me to bring my family over and now my daughters attend school here while my wife has also found a job. I couldn’t be happier!

 

Fix Forward’s longest serving tradesmen, Kingstone Katuruza

3) What has been the most challenging thing for you on this journey? 

Finding the bridge between me and the client was very tough, especially if you’re new to a country. Fix Forward really assisted with filling that gap and understanding cultural differences.

Now that I’ve built up that aspect of my professional service, I’d just like to get to a point where I am more recognized in the industry for taking on bigger contracts.  This will allow me to employ more people full-time and reach new heights with my business.

4) When you meet new Tradesmen who have just joined Fix Forward, what advice do you give? 

I try and live by three simple maxims, which I am always happy to pass on. 1) Keep It honest; 2) Have your agreements in place; and 3) Knowledge is power!

5) Where did you see yourself before joining Fix Forward? 

I wanted to be a mechanic to be honest, but I saw opportunities with painting and it turns out I really enjoyed it too.

6) What are your future plans? Where do you see yourself personally and professionally in a few years time?

I’d like to start an empire! I want to own a few more family businesses after I reach optimal success with my painting business and Fix Forward. My wife is in the sewing and embroidery industry and we’re already investing in machinery.

But my biggest future plan is to return to my country and start initiatives to help my people such as widows and orphans – I’ll get there one day, I know it.

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10 Questions for Fix Forward Founder – Joshua Cox

CAPE TOWN – With the first half 2017 already behind us, Fix Forward saw tremendous growth and development both in the company and its tradesmen. As the business continues to go from strength to strength, we thought it was the perfect time to sit down with our founder, Joshua Cox, to gain a little more insight into how Fix Forward came about and where he envisions it going.

1) What inspired you to start Fix Forward?  

Back in 2008, when I was living in Johannesburg and working for a non-profit, I became good friends with a tradesman named Simon from Diepsloot. Simon had done some work for me previously and he approached me to write him a reference letter to secure more business. With a bit more credibility I saw his business grow and really get somewhere, and so was inspired to start Fix Forward, initially just as a side project.

Creating opportunities for people to improve their lives, particularly people from low-income communities, has always been a passion and a drive of for me.

2) Getting started, what was most challenging for you? 

In the early days, trying to get Fix Forward going whilst fully employed elsewhere, it sometimes felt like we were making such slow progress, and that was definitely demotivating. Fortunately I had some fantastic people around me, helping with Fix Forward. They really worked hard to move the business forward and keep me motivated. They continue to serve Fix Forward as trustees.

3) What are the key indicators by which you measure your impact? 

Good question! I think the primary measure of our impact is always going to be seeing tradesmen progress and improve in both their personal and professional lives. Secondly, we need to ensure that Fix Forward remains viable as a company. We do this by setting ambitious goals and keeping a tight focus on delivering the best service we can to our customers.

4) Do you have any organisations or Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) whom you consider as role models or benchmarks? 

Yes, I have always been inspired by the work The Clothing Bank does, empowering young mothers from the townships to start businesses. Similarly to us, they focus on developing the person as a whole, not just providing them with business skills. They have been hugely successful, reaching women in communities across the country.

5) Where do you see Fix Forward going from here? 

We are constantly developing our business model and adapting to ever-changing dynamics. Our next major step is making the move up to Gauteng and ensuring that our quality levels and professionalism in that new space remain consistent with our operations in Cape Town.

 

Fix Forward Founder, Joshua Cox.

6) Does Fix Forward undertake any fundraising? 

We are very fortunate to have many great supporters on board, including Investec, Builders Warehouse, E-Squared, Apex Hi Trust, the DG Murray Trust, the IDC, DHK Architects and others. These organisations and foundations have been critical in getting things going. We are about 40% self-funded at this stage, with plans to be self-funding in the next 18 months.

7) With such a brilliant business model, has Fix Forward been officially recognised with any achievements or rewards? 

We have. I am very proud to say that in 2015, I won the Under 35 Maverick award for Social Innovation and Job Creation. And, in 2016, Fix Forward was a finalist in the Cape Talk Small Business Awards and I was nominated as one of the 100 Young Independents of South Africa by Independent Media.

8) What does success look like for Fix Forward? 

I would consider Fix Forward successful once we have managed to expand nationally and are recognized as leaders in the industry with a reputation for delivering exceptional service to our clients. As a result, we would see our tradesmen’s business doing well and their lives improving through support provided by Fix Forward.

9) What differentiates Fix Forward from similar initiatives? 

Fix Forward is different to regular companies in that we are driven primarily by our social mission rather than a profit motive. We are different to other non-profits in that we have a strong commercial model  which helps us move away from being overly reliant on donors; this creates potential to scale up both our impact and our business.

10) What are the characteristics required to ensure tradesmen are successful after joining Fix Forward?  

Our most successful tradesmen all have the following traits – confidence and pride in their work, and a hunger to grow both professionally and personally in order to better improve their lives.

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