When one woman is poised to change the world, the world is inspired to stand behind her. This is the story of Lorraine Mooi’s dream to give women in trade a voice, and the Seed Academy mentorship that nurtured her vision to create change in a male dominated industry.
HOW THE JOURNEY BEGAN
It was Lorraine’s mother who first forged her way into the plumbing industry. And when Lorraine decided to join her, she jokes that her mother may have been trying to dissuade her from that particular path. “She made me install seven toilets all by myself.” she laughs. “But it actually made me love it so much. By the third pan, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Lorraine not only became a certified plumber with her mother, she went on to become the successive winner of the IOPSA Industry Lady of the Year awards and lauded as an industry hero. But so often, Lorraine would be the only woman in the boardroom. “And that isn’t something to be proud of. It was something that needed to change,” she says.
Lorraine launched South African Women in Plumbing (SAWIP) as a Facebook page that would later become the registered NGO known to give women, youth, and persons with disability in the trade industry opportunity, support, and a unified voice. Raised by three strong women Lorraine calls the ‘Amazonians’, she always knew that she wanted to do something that had an impact, and nothing was going to stop her.
To support her vision, Lorraine turned to Seed Academy to grow her skills in understanding her market, in packaging a more powerful message, as well as in the financial aspect of the business.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
In Lorraine’s case, Seed Academy developed a tailor-made programme that largely focused on one-on-one mentorship. Seed matched Lorraine with a business coach and mentor who was naturally in tune with Lorraine’s journey, and the changes started happening from their very first meeting.
When Lorraine first met with her business coach, she was working on SAWIP on the side while she gained even more experience in the field as an employee. “But my coach inspired me to make the decision to dedicate myself to South African Women in Plumbing full-time. She reminded me that you cannot serve two masters and that it was time to make a choice.”
And ever since, SAWIP has grown from strength to strength. Through the programme, Lorraine, who already had a diploma in financial information systems, developed a much deeper understanding in the financials of her business. She’s sharpened the way she structures her partnerships and the roles of the people within her organisation, she’s learnt how to package her offerings in a way that shows value, and she’s gained a new skill in aligning the right values to the right market.
She’s also perfected her three-minute elevator pitch, which she still uses every time she makes a new contact. Lorraine grabbed every opportunity to change and she ran with it like the wind. But the true power of her transformation shines in the lives she has touched through SAWIP.
CHANGING THE WORLD
To date, more than 60 women have come through SAWIP’s programmes. The NGO itself employs 6 permanent employees, it’s garnering attention from all over the country and has already generated an annual turnover of R1.7million.
Lorraine has lunched SAWIP’s first Ceramic Training Project funded by Ceramic Industries. She’s developed the Allan Gray Makers StartUp Hub programme, the CAT(her)LYST programme with Momentum, and has partnered with Old Mutual to offer invoice discounting finance options to members.
She has also spearheaded the Plumbing Industry Anti Sexual Harassments Pledge, which has been signed by industry giants and has inspired so many that she’s already featuring in television interviews.
Lorraine says “Seed Academy changed my life.” And together we’re going to change even more lives as Seed and SAWIP have joined forces on the AccelerateHer Artisan program where we will be equipping female electricians and plumbers with the business, technical and personal leadership skills and support they need to disrupt male-dominated sectors. A true testament of Seed Academy & SAWIP’s commitment to the development, partnership and building of woman-owned businesses in South Africa.
- Program: Enterprise Development Program
- Period: September 2021- May 2022
- More than 60 women trained to date
- 6 permanent employees
- Annual turnover of R1,7m