Junto rises from the ashes
Lucas Moloi can write books about boom-bust-boom cycles. This man, a serial entrepreneur and author, has s een his business rising to incredible heights only to fizzle in a short space of time. At 25, Moloi was building what soon grew to become a business worth millions. But before he turned 30, his entity, Junto Group, had gone from a bang to a whimper. Not only was he declared bankrupt, but had become homeless.
As a consultancy, Junto offered advice on safety, health, environmental a nd qua l i t y a s s u r a nce ( SHEQ ) management. It did well. But t he group started f loundering when Moloi ventured into luxury car and property businesses. That hast y i nvestment started to erode cash and dragged the entire group, including the cash-cow consultancy, into bankruptcy.
That was not the end for this selfmade businessman. Two other slumps followed. Today, 18 years since setting up, Junto operates in seven countries.
FROM THE BEGINNING
It is powered by a total of 180 people (including consultants) and spans areas such as f inancial services, media and consultancy (quality management). Resources and l ifest yle sectors also feature in its portfolio.
That spirit of making a difference,
was my appetite for risk. I’ve always been in the types of business whereby, when I believe in an idea, I pursue it all the way. If I have to invest every cent, I would and I did. But when things go wrong, they go horribly wrong. I had learnt how to build a business, but never knew how to preserve it and that’s why I fell more than once. I’d never been mentored and went into business on a hunch,” says Junto CEO Lucas Moloi.
In the beginning of his working career, Moloi found a job as a labourer at a manufacturing company, where he soon rose through the ranks to become a qualified boilermaker. His switch to the SHEQ arena and a subsequent qualification in quality management set him off to greater heights.
In 2004, Moloi quit his full-time SHEQ job as a manager at KB Consulting to focus on Junto, which had become a shell. “I don’t ponder for long. I had no money when I started, but I knew that the services I was offering were going to be my marketing campaign. It worked out. Three months later I was making money,” he recalls. His clientele included public colleges, development agencies and other organisations. Junto offered SHEQ training and helped its clients − or the organisations they supported − to get ISO-certified.
“What drove me to start on my own was a need to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s my business. You don’t have to be rich to make a difference in the lives of fellow humans,” says Moloi, who has survived two bankruptcies, a near-collapse and the recession which, just a year after starting up, implied falling demand for Junto services. coupled with a knack for spotting opportunities, could explain how Moloi’s business visit to Kenya and Tanzania, just two years ago, has left a huge mark on Zanzibar’s banking landscape.
“After f inishing my meetings, I decided it would be an injustice not to visit Zanzibar,” he says, relating to how his company has since imported a three ATMs to the island’s previously un-served region. Until his 2013 visit, visitors wanting to access ATMs had to travel an hour to Stone Town CBD. That spurred Junto to look for mobile banking opportunities elsewhere.
For now, Junto is present in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland, offering quality management services to hospitality companies and government departments. The s a me goes for Botswana, but in addition to consulting, it’s also active in the energy and tourism industries.
In Tanzania, Junto’s operations are still limited to banking. In SA, it operates in media, advisory and lifestyle sectors. Further, Junto, whose quality management consultancy now also spans governance, risk and compliance, has teamed up with media f irms in Kenya and Nigeria.
In this sector, Junto owns a publishing house, an online talk radio station, which promotes entrepreneurship and development, and a TV production house that makes shows for the likes of Cape TV and Tshwane TV. In April, the group launched My Rich Father, My Music and All, a book written by tycoon Mzayifani Nosenga’s son, Xoli Nosenga, a muso, about his famous and inf luential father and family. Himself a sought-after religious and motivational speaker, Moloi, who holds a doctorate in quality management, has published
and in which he speaks of 100-year plans.