Entrepreneur Maggie Moila on making mining industry accessible - 'We believe charity begins at home'

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Maggie Moila
Maggie Moila
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Her career started off in finance as a debt counsellor but after a few years in the field, Limpopo-born entrepreneur Maggie Moila felt the need to switch careers and empower her hometown with necessary mining skills by opening the Fundza Training Institute.

“I am the founder and CEO of Fundza Training institute where we offer the best in mining workmanship training. We have been operational for seven years, providing people with skills and training in the mining industry,” she tells TRUELOVE.

While the institution has been operating within mines, Moila is now in the process of building her own training facility and shares why she chose the province of Limpopo for this.

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“For us, it is time to grow and expand. In the past, we had been conducting our training at mines with the appropriate facilities. We now want to handle all training at our training facility in Mokopane, which will be the first of many to come. We are currently based in Limpopo, so we believe that charity begins at home. Limpopo is also home to one of the biggest mining workforces in the country. Furthermore, mining in South Africa contributes to about 30 percent of the GDP. Mining is also the largest industry in Limpopo. Only Northwest and Mpumalanga come anywhere close to the mining workforce in Limpopo. So, it only makes sense for us to start here,” she explains.

The training facility will focus on the operation of heavy machinery and offers courses in Earth Moving Machines, Lift Machinery, Cranes, Counter Balance Lift Truck, First aid level 1 and level 2 and fire fighting, among others.

She tells us more about the institute, her career and entrepreneurship.

What inspired you to start the Fundza Training Institute?

I started my professional career as a debt counsellor. I soon realised that there is a major lack of knowledge among individuals from Limpopo, especially when it comes to financial literacy. As a formerly registered debt counsellor, I saw the gap and started training people in local communities on how to manage their finances, as well as assisting SMMEs with business start-up and mentoring. I officially started my business in 2015 and at the time I was mainly focused on financial literacy and financial well-being so my company was called Fundza Finwell, which then transitioned into Fundza Training Institute once I expanded my accreditations.

How did your career in mining start?

A few years into starting Fundza Finwell, I then expanded my accreditations into lifting machines, earth-moving machines and first-aid, just to mention a few. The training I conducted was recognised by most people in my community, especially the youth. In rural South Africa, it is hard to get employed as opportunities are significantly fewer. It is even harder if you lack skills. With that being said, Limpopo is a mining [province], which essentially means that most employment is in the mines. I then restructured the company and renamed it to Fundza Training Institute where we shifted our focus from financial well-being to workman training.

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What are some of the challenges you’ve come across in your career?

Being a Black woman in a white male-dominated industry has to be the biggest challenge I have faced so far, as with any other male-dominated industry. As a Black woman, you have to work 100 times harder just to be taken as seriously as the males. Lucky for me, I don't see it as a setback but rather as inspiration to push harder and become a serious player in the mining game. I would very much like to be seen for what I do and not only be seen for ticking the right boxes for BBEE and corporate inclusion. I would rather be seen as a brilliant woman who is killing it in the industry and be one to look out for.

How did you manage to overcome these challenges?

Patience, persistence and being teachable. A lot of entrepreneurs start businesses and hope for overnight success, which is nearly impossible to come by.  The government also helps SMMEs that are compliant with their regulations. For example, many entrepreneurs lack knowledge in specific paperwork that they may need to get funding from the government. They submit papers with missing documentation, accreditation, etc. This demoralises most people in business whereas they should take it as an opportunity to learn. It took me over seven years to reach the point I am at today, which is proof and testament that patience and persistence are vital in any entrepreneur's journey.

You’re quite knowledgeable on entrepreneurship and financial literacy, why do you believe these are important conversations to have in this day and age?

Financial literacy and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. You can’t run a business if you are not financially literate. Educate yourself because not everyone can afford financial advice. In this day and age, you need to be financially savvy. The world of finance is evolving and we need to keep up with the times in order for our businesses to thrive. Knowing and understanding your financial choices and options is the first step to your financial well-being.

What advice would you give to women who wish to follow the same career path as you?

Familiarise yourself with all the processes and knowledge you need. Being a woman will pose many challenges in almost every industry. Be prepared to put in the work and be mentally and emotionally strong to overcome these challenges. I highly encourage educating yourself and equipping yourself with all the necessary tools to thrive in any business environment. Don’t underestimate yourself as a woman. Believe in what you are doing and stay persistent in chasing success. Eventually, you will get there.

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