Junto rises from the ashes

Finweek English Edition - - ENTREPRENEUR - “THE DEFIN­ING FAC­TOR BY SHOKS MZOLO

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.

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