Passion & Pedal Power: Iyeza Health
Earlier this year, we received a mailshot from a pharmacy promising to get my doctor's prescription delivered to me. Even in many urban areas in Africa, the sight of a pharmacy delivery vehicle familiar to us would be like seeing a spaceship in our streets. As we learnt, most normal delivery vehicles leave their consignments at specific collection points at the outskirts of the sprawling townships and suburbs. Drivers are not familiar in these areas and their delivery addresses are not on digital maps. A matter of inclusion successfully responded to by a micro-entrepreneur.
We met Sizwe Nzima at a conference for local micro-entrepreneurs in Khayelitsha. As a successful entrepreneur, he was one step ahead of them. His desire to make a difference to the community is not only reflected by his business' mission but also his sacrificial giving of his time to encourage other entrepreneurs. And his simple presentation delivered without notes and coming straight from his heart was probably the biggest take-away for participants that morning.
Later on, we met with him privately to attend a business meeting together. We picked him up from a taxi-stop to travel together to the location of the meeting. Though he was the boss of about seven employees at the time, his bakkie (South African term for a small delivery vehicle) was used for deliveries not business meetings. Sizwe started his business in 2013 cycling to local hospitals to collect medication for his grandparents. Later he included their neighbours and friends. One day he had so many prescriptions that the hospital called the police since they suspected production of recreational drugs. However, this gave him the opportunity to explain how his business addresses the daily congestion issues most public hospitals battle with. Locals queue for many hours just to collect prescriptions, others are actually to old or fragile to do it themselves. Word spread. People were only too glad to pay a small collection fee. With cash-prizes he won at business competitions, he expanded his businesses.
“This is not only my job, it’s my life,” adds Sizwe. “It makes me happy every day, because people smile and they really appreciate it when you deliver medication to them.” Today they deliver to 1,000 people in Khayelitsha in temperature controlled cooler boxes.
His former mentor Siraaj Adams joined him in 2017. Today, Iyeza Express is part of Iyeza Health through which they also operate the leading e-commerce platform in South Africa. It distributes nationwide over 3000 HIV-self-test kits every month. Although still very small, they distribute sanitary towels to girls for free as part of their corporate social investment project to keep them in school in their final year for as many days as possible.
In our brief time together, it became clear to us that his other passion is technology. Thus, it will not be a surprise to see his vision of a fully track-able delivery service and their plans to expand beyond the borders of SA come to fruition.