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Under pressure: Entrepreneur gives new life to courier services, provides jobs to unemployed

Limpopo-born Solomon Makgobatlou.

Limpopo-born Solomon Makgobatlou.

Published Jul 27, 2022

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Johannesburg - The acceleration in the growth of technology and social media has seen a major expansion in the online presence of small and medium enterprises. Platforms such as Facebook Marketplace allow entrepreneurs to advertise and market their wares and increase their reach to an infinite number of potential customers.

Shopping online is a growing trend in South Africa and Africa, and is attracting a wider demographic of consumers.

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Customer satisfaction in the last mile is key to retaining customers, and townships are under-serviced in this regard.

Delivering goods quickly, affordably and on time in townships remains a challenge largely due to poor town planning during the apartheid years.

Limpopo-born Solomon Solomon Makgobatlou (31) identified this as a challenge that affected both business owners and consumers, and he sought to find a solution. The second part of Solomon’s mission was to help the unemployed generate an income.

To that effect, Solomon developed the iParcela App to help connect companies and individuals in need of fast and transparent courier services. The iParcela app is available for download on the Andriod App Store and IOS.

On-boarded, he has unemployed South Africans who own vehicles who now can make a living by helping other businesses and individuals move parcels from one location to another.

He said: “I realised if I could start something like this, I could empower more businesses and individuals to make an income, those who are employed, and also those looking to supplement their income.”

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iParcela App offers both business and individual customers 24-hour access to all registered drivers who own Sedans, Hatchbacks, Bakkies, Panel vans, motorbikes and 1-ton trucks.

Solomon has set his sights on servicing formal and informal online retailers and service providers who may not otherwise have the means to deliver their goods to customers.

“I’m targeting your Facebook Marketplace and your WhatsApp sellers, offering them efficient delivery, which these big companies do not give,” he said.

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Users can select from a range of services that suits their current needs and their convenience and preferred schedule. With the click of a button, user parcels are collected and delivered to the specified destination.

Solomon believes that his understanding of the conditions faced by entrepreneurs in townships gives him a competitive edge over more established courier companies.

“One of our clients has 90% of their customer base in the township. She wants to move her products around the township. The big players do not specifically give services to these areas, and it is very sad for me to see a young lady selling health products having to go to town to access courier services because they make small margins,” he said.

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Solomon’s app locates the nearest available driver with the most suitable vehicle to service any particular request.

How to request a delivery vehicle on the iParcela app

“Some of the people that would deliver items to the townships actually stay in the townships themselves, which means they are closer and makes it very quick to collect the items that need to be delivered, making sure they reach their designation at the proposed time, it also makes it cheaper,” he said.

Solomon wants to see iParcela grow all over the country and service the most remote and under-serviced areas of the country, all the while empowering individuals in those areas.

On the issue of unemployment and entrepreneurship, Solomon calls on South Africans not to wait on the government to help alleviate the problems they are faced with.

“Never wait for someone to come and rescue you because no one is coming. Where we need help, we need to ask for help, but help is not money. Help could be strategies on how you could do it and advice from those who have already walked the path,” Solomon concluded.

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