By Carissa Drury
Everyone seems to know Sizwe Nzima. He’s the local hero who travels daily by bicycle to collect chronic medication on behalf of over 2,000 people in Khayelitsha, in Cape Town.
Some can’t afford the expense of travelling to collect their monthly dosage. Others are too sick or old to endure the long queues at overcrowded public clinics. For them, Nzima’s services are crucial.
But the first time he arrived with multiple scripts, the clinic called the police.
They thought he had stolen them to make recreational drugs. The incident turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Nzima.
“I managed to explain what I’m trying to do and how this would help the clinic in terms of decongesting the number of people,” Nzima says.
That was in 2013, when he was collecting medication for his grandparents and their neighbours and friends.
Word soon spread. Nzima couldn’t ignore the demand. He grew his initiative into Iyeza Express, a fully-fledged business that’s creating jobs and saving lives.
Nzima keeps a detailed record of patients and their medication needs while employing couriers from the community who collect prepackaged parcels from clinics.
“Many youth struggle to find employment,” Nzima says. “By spotting a need and working towards solving it, we can create opportunities for ourselves.”
Nzima received cash prizes from the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development, as well as the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards which enabled him to develop the business.
In order to handle medication, Nzima had to acquire a pharmaceutical licence. As a result, he now owns his own pharmacy and has expanded his services to include the distribution of self-testing HIV kits.
“First I helped my grandparents. Now I serve my entire community,” Nzima says. He was named one of Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs of 2013 in the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.
But to locals, he’s more than just a businessman.
As Nzima pedals through the streets to make his deliveries, he leaves a trail of greetings and smiles. “Where there’s a need, South Africans will always make a plan to help one another,” Nzima says.