Joshua Cox is not new to the social development arena – he previously worked for the World Wide Fund for Nature and with the Masifundise Development Trust as an activist for fishing communities.
His idea for Fix Forward came about when a friend from Diepsloot, a township in Johannesburg, who did tiling and paving, couldn’t find a job without trusted references. After Cox wrote him a reference letter and made him business cards he got a client.
It is an industry where word of mouth is key, and from then on more clients came in. Cox is well aware of the struggles South Africans have getting their businesses off the ground with no networks: when he finished university he cold-emailed 100 different companies.
He created Fix Forward in 2012, although he originally called it Trade-Mark. It is a non-profit organisation that connects businesses and homeowners who want to renovate with recommended and quality-screened tradesmen from disadvantaged areas.
Funding was hard at first, but help came with the R20 000 LifeCo UnLtd South Africa award for social entrepreneurship. In 2014, Cox won the Maverick Employment Creation Award. Fix Forward runs an 18-month programme to provide training, mentoring and coaching to its tradesmen, of whom it now has 12 – carpenters, builders, plumbers, painters and more – on its books.
Find Cox on Twitter: @Fix_Forward