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300 businesses have been impacted by Fix Forward
When painter Cassiem Madatt joined Fix Forward he had a five-year dream: “He wanted to look out from his kitchen window onto his driveway to see a bakkie parked there,” says Josh Cox, founder of Fix Forward, the website that connects skilled small-scale contractors like Cassiem to new online customers.
Painter Cassiem Madatt on site. Cassiem was able to land some large contracts after joining Fix Foward. Image: Fix Forward
For Cassiem, that “one day” came four months after joining Fix Forward, the 12-year-old business that also upskills the contractors. In that time Cassiem was able to win some large contracts, which enabled him to buy the bakkie and hire four more people.
BUSINESSES GET FREE SKILLS WORKSHOPS
Over 300 SMEs, that in turn employ about 1 500 people, have been through Fix Foward’s programme, at no cost to the tradesmen and women (Fix Forward raises funding through its affiliated NGO). The contractors are legitimate businesses who employ teams of between 2 to 40 people – not casual labourers working on a day rate.
They are run by qualified painters, electricians, plumbers, tilers, pavers, welders, carpenters, roofers and builders, who can issue certificates of compliance.Shamiel Waggie (middle) with his team. His business offers everything from carpentry to tiling, plumbing, electrical work and building alterations. Image: Fix Forward
TRADESMEN AND WOMEN GET BUSINESS MENTORS
These contractors are able to get new leads through online opportunities. Free access to Fix Forward’s development programme means they can also tune up their skills through workshops on everything from “how to balance your books”, to “how to quote accurately for a job”, and leadership training with a business mentor.
Quoting correctly was a key growth point for Pumla Makeleni, a flooring expert and interior designer. She joined Fix Forward to increase her client base and learn how to better manage her small business.A free workshop on “how to quote accurately for a job” is helping flooring expert and interior designer Pumla Makeleni better manage her business. Supplied: Fix Forward
“I always had a challenge with quoting, because when you are doing something that you thoroughly enjoy, like really really enjoy, you feel guilty sometimes to charge for it.” That’s thankfully changing.
HIRE VETTED BUILDING CONTRACTORS
Though the contractors quote on jobs independently, there is a rigorous review system overseen by Fix Forward, which helps hold the contractor accountable. For this Fix Forward charges the contractors a commission on their successful bids.
“All of Fix Forward building contractors are vetted service providers,” says Josh, “which gives them an edge in an industry where many don’t know who to trust when it comes to hiring a contractor.”Fungai Chitema (left) and his team member. Fungai has been a plumber for more than 10 years. Image: Fix Forward
80 BUSINESS MENTORS AND COACHES
There mentors and coaches in Fix Forward’s development programme are there to help unlock solutions to challenges in the contractor’s business and personal life
“We are interested in the person – not just in growing the turnover of the business,” says Josh. “We want to support and celebrate them as success stories in their communities.”Plumber Alfred Chimanga (middle) and his team. Alfred went from doing odd jobs here and there, to servicing large factories. Image: Fix Forward
FROM MAINTENANCE MEN TO BUILDING CONTRACTORS
Like builder Brains Nkomo, joining Fix Forward helped him understand the importance of building a strong brand. “Within two weeks of attending the Fix Forward sessions my car was branded,” says Brains.
There have been gains in his personal life, too. A few months later Brains, who now has his son working in the business, could afford to pay for his wedding and bring his family down from Zimbabwe.
Brains Nkomo (right) registered his construction company in 2008. The workshops help him make his business more professional. Image: Fix Forward
“I was lucky enough to attend the wedding, a result of his hard work,” says Josh. “It was heart-warming to see the impact that new opportunities brought for him and his family.”
Brains Nkomo's team on site. Image: Fix Forward
THE GROWTH PATH FOR FIX FORWARD
Josh’s own business growth trajectory is similar to that of the contractors. Like many of them, he is a solo founder, which is a lonely road. “Key to getting through the toughest early years has been having a strong board of trustees, people who have provided valuable insight and support.”
Josh Cox, founder of Fix Forward. “All of Fix Forward building contractors are vetted service providers.” Image: Fix Forward.
His goal now is for Fix Forward to grow its national footprint beyond just central Gauteng and Cape Town, and for that Fix Forward will need to invest in tech development of their user interface. A boost that will help the business impact more of the many maintenance men and women in the country.
HOW TO BOOK A FIX FORWARD CONTRACTOR?
John and team. John has 13 years building experience. Plus he has project management experience. Image: Fix Forward
NOMINATE A BUSINESS YOU ADMIRE
Fix Forward is a featured business in the Small Business Spotlight, a CapeTownMagazine.com and Lulalend initiative to help boost small businesses.
From now till the end of October, you can nominate an SME braving it in business in our Small Business Spotlight Initiative. One that has triumphed through the storms and has an impact on society, like this female-run business in Malmesbury, that turns recycled paper products into beautiful flowers and herbs, called Growing Paper.
Nominate as many as you like, from anywhere in the country, even nominate your own. Just nominate (takes 2 minutes)! Our partner Lulalend is offering up to R100 000 in interest free funding to one nominee.
By Justin Nurse
MORE: HELPING SMES GROW
SweepSouth CEO, Michael Jordan and more founders share how to help your business survive the impact of Covid-19. For over 10 years CapeTownmagazine has been helping SMEs, featuring – and activating – a new business weekly through the New Places Project .