Plumber keeps her father’s dream alive in a man’s world

2011-05-21 11:46

When the water mains burst and the flooding begins, many households call a plumber, who usually turns out to be a man.

The Johannesburg municipality pretty much does the same. The only difference, however, is that the metro has entrusted this job to a business owned by a woman – Joy Moloi (29) of Alexandra, Johannesburg, who runs
Moloi Plumbers.

The business was started by her late father, Tebello, in 1997, and she took over the ropes in 2005 when he passed on.

Joy runs the business with her brother, Clement, and has grown it from “a tuck shop-like place” into one that has acquired contracts from the City of Johannesburg, Johannesburg Water and other entities.

She does sewer reticulation and maintenance for Johannesburg as well as domestic households around the city. While unwilling to divulge the financial value of the contracts, Joy says they are substantial and long term.

Her big break came when construction giant Murray & Roberts awarded her a six-month contract last year.

“The contract wasn’t that big, but it managed to boost our confidence in business, seeing that Murray & Roberts was a private company and believed in us.

“It is a man’s world and being a woman in this industry comes with its challenges,” says Joy.

“What motivates me most is waking up every day knowing that you have to work against all odds to succeed in a male-dominated field.”

The company employs 14 people – six of them women – and it sources its employees mainly from poverty-stricken Alexandra.

Joy holds a 60% stake in the company, while the remainder rests with her brother, who brings his project management expertise to the business.

She concedes that it was never easy having to negotiate deals with his male counterparts in the business.

While she is both entrepeneur and wife, Joy also deals with raising her 16-year-old sister following the death of
their parents.

She has no children of her own, but embraced the parenting role none the less.

“It is sometimes very difficult having to run a business and being a mother and a father to my beloved sister,” she says.

Joy adds that her field of business needs specialised equipment that is expensive to acquire.

Like many female-run businesses across the country, Joy admits to struggling to access funding to nurture her business.

“We request funding from banking institutions, but it is tough to land. We are never fortunate with these institutions and have to make do with what we have. We are not the only company and obviously we face stiff competition.”

When her father died, she said the siblings were faced either with letting the business go or investing their energies to make it work.

She said they opted to secure his legacy and make it work.

“My father’s business took me to school. He fed and clothed us from it.”

She said through Moloi Plumbers, they were living their father’s dream.

“He would not want the business to be run down so we made an undertaking to give it our best shot and succeed.”

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