Innovation in Peter Drucker’s view is that specific instrument of entrepreneurship that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth; that state of profuse abundance which sometimes is derived from a property that has economic utility. This is what Siswe Nzima, entrepreneur per excellence has done with the good old bicycle! Africa is indeed blessed with quiet innovative entrepreneurs who continue to make a difference in the lives of the wretched of the earth who ordinarily would face untold difficulties just to access the basic needs of life.
Siswe is the co-founder of Iyeza Express; a small business in the Cape town township of Khayelitsha in South Africa which uses bicycles to deliver medication to people with different chronic health challenges. His unique business idea serves to ameliorate the health condition of his people as well as save them the distress of standing in long hospital cues for several hours un- end.
Siswe’s invention was borne out of love and a need to be a solution in a continent where hardship has become the modus vivendi.
His background is quite similar to those of some young people his age; the oldest of five siblings in the care of his grandparents, Siswe like most African youths encountered several challenges that threatened his emergence in the business world, chief of which was his inability to gain admission into the university. This was quite disheartening for the young entrepreneur yet he remained focused and kept his eyes on his goal, refusing to be limited by his inability. Eventually he got enrolled in Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development where his innovative mind gained expression and soared without limits. Of this he recounts;
“After high school, I pursued my career in legal studies but I was never able to get into university. I then went to the Raymond Ackerman Academy to pursue my business career. This was where the idea came about. I used to collect medication for my grandparents for more than 3 years but never looked at it as a need. The idea came about when we were in our innovation lecture. I saw a newspaper article about how public hospitals were struggling to keep up with the large number of patients who comes to collect chronic disease medicines.
It was quite easy for me to test the idea because I had been collecting my grandparents’ medicines. I realised that this was a huge problem and I came up with a solution to deliver medication from the hospital to the client’s doorstep, charging a low R10 delivery fee. This was an opportunity for me to solve the problem which I and many people had been experiencing by using a sustainable business model. I found out how much of an effort it is for people to get their treatment”.
As would be expected of new business ideas, Sizwe started off his business with only two clients; his grandparents! In less than six months however, he had enlisted 40 clients and over 250 a few short years afterwards in Khayelitsha an informal township in Western Cape, South Africa located on the Cape flats in the city of Cape Town. His clientele comprising of mainly very busy workers has been growing steadily ever since its establishment.
“In the next five years I would like to see the business operating in the whole of Khayelitsha and maybe one or two outside areas such as Gugulethu or Nyanga,” he says.
His initial goal was to start up a business that will greatly benefit his community whose response he finds extremely delightful. Now however, he hopes to expand his business locally and even nationally.
“The response from the community has been great,” Nzima said. “My clients appreciate the privilege of their medication and other things being delivered while they’re busy with their own responsibilities. Some old people really feel that they are taken care of, considering their critical health problems.”
Sizwe has also become an employer of labour. He employs men who criss-cross Khayelitsha with bicycles, collecting and delivering medication for chronic diseases from public hospitals and clinics and deliver them to clients’ doorstep on specified dates. Another problem solved right?
This 22 year old entrepreneur continues to challenge other young people to desist from gangsterism, drugs and immoral acts and instead work towards worthy goals.
“We are the future of this world and all we need to do is to understand how to use this power in a good way, not by going into crime and drugs,” he continues, “Young people are the most powerful group of people in the country because they have all the power to change the world into what they want it to be”
Sizwe attended Battswood Primary School and Harold Cressy High School before proceeding to Raymond Ackerman Academy. He is currently studying for an undergraduate degree in commerce at the University of South Africa while building the business. The successful entrepreneur is aided by his friends and partners, Wandisile Nqeketho and Siyabulela Daweti. They are responsible for managing other projects such as a recycling company, Ilima Cleaning and Recycling, and the 18 Gangster Museum [a museum that shows young people the problems of gangsterism].
Sizwe’s advice to other young entrepreneurs is absolutely profound for our time, he says;
“Success does not come overnight. There will be difficult times where you feel like nothing is moving. Use those times as your motivation. This means that you have to persevere. We all have the potential to achieve in life. It’s just a matter of how much we want it, how far we are willing to go and what we are doing to get to where we want to be. We as the youth have the power to change the world into what we want it to be, so let’s not doubt ourselves. We are the future of this world and all we need to do is to understand how to use this power in a good way, not by going into crime and drugs. I always ask myself this question, what makes all the successful entrepreneurs special compared to me? Because they are also human beings and we live in one world!”
Sizwe Nzima is indeed a world changer whose story is not just inspiring but also provoking. I hope it rouses you to action.