Since the age of 18, Joshua Cox has been passionate about improving our world. Founding a social enterprise however, was something unexpected. He studied nature conservation at Stellenbosch University and thereafter worked in the non-profit sector in community development. After a failed business attempt, he met Simon, who inspired him to start Fix Forward in 2009.
“The inspiration for Fix Forward came from assisting Simon. He runs a small business doing basic building works. He made paving bricks for me and asked for a reference letter to help secure a large paving contract.
“He won the project, and his business started to take off. One evening, driving away from visiting Simon, it occurred to me that there was an opportunity to provide similar support to other small contractors,” Joshua says.
Joshua has spent the last 10 years figuring out how to do just that, effectively and sustainably. Fix Forward matches people who want building maintenance or renovations with trustworthy contractors. “Contractor listing sites and even personal recommendations don’t come with any guarantees. Our ‘job done’ guarantee is what really sets us apart,” he explains.
Fix Forward sources its tradesmen from client recommendations and existing contractors. Some approach the company directly, requesting to be part of their 12-month entrepreneur development training programme.
All contractors go through the programme, which involves coaching and mentoring as well as monthly workshops on topics such as marketing and financial management. “The programme is very practical in nature and is aimed at equipping our contractors with critical personal and professional skills that enable them to develop and thrive,” explains Joshua.
For Joshua, true innovation is when a new idea (or combination of old ideas) brings about a step towards change in how a problem is addressed.
“To solve society’s near-overwhelming social challenges, I believe this type of innovation is required. We cannot settle for doing things ‘a bit better’. We need radical ideas to bring about radical change for a healthier, happier world.”
Read more in the March/April issue of Fast Company South Africa.