Colin Mkosi, 23, from Langa, Cape Town, established Cloudy Deliveries – a bicycle delivery service – to help his community with their errands and deliveries for just R9.
By: Thanduxolo ‘Thandz’ Buti
Images by: Sive Cabuko
In these times of great uncertainty and dwindling opportunities, Colin was able to think up an innovative business idea that generates profit and has a social impact.
The University of Western Cape (UWC) law student says he has always had a penchant for creating innovative projects that speak to his community. “I am a young person who is passionate about creating projects that add value to my community,” he tells Blacklight. “Before Cloudy Deliveries, I founded a community newspaper called uLanga online.”
Colin reveals the idea came to him while home, over-inundated with his studies, and unable to go to the shops to run errands. He then thought about how great it would be to have a local delivery service that would attend to people’s daily needs. And Cloudy Deliveries was born!
The entrepreneur says he consciously made the price R9 to make the service more accessible. “When I started, I was concerned about the community being able to afford the service. I decided to start at R9 to make the services accessible to all – especially the elderly – and not just a selected few. It was important for me to make this business, a business for the people,” he explains.
Currently, the company uses the popular messenger Whatsapp, and direct calls to get people’s orders. Since the inception of the business, in February 2020, Colin has employed 22 young people – starting from 16 [years] going up – who help to do the deliveries. According to Colin: on an average day, they make around 210 – 220 deliveries. The demand increases during month-end when people have been paid or received their stipends. Through this initiative, they also invest back into their community.
“Through this initiative, we have been able to help young people to generate some income which they can use to assist in their homes. From day one, we received great support from our community up until now. They are proud of the fact that this is taking young people away from the streets and giving them a better opportunity.”
With the digital transition introducing numerous online businesses and apps that specially cater to our every need, Cloudy Deliveries finds itself in an already saturated space. However, the young entrepreneur says that this business has a unique competitive edge that distinguishes it from the rest.
“A lot of people in our community have been making use of our services because they find it to be quite convenient and also the fact that it’s a business that invests in young people.
“Cloudy is a socially conscious venture that has a positive impact on the lives of the youth in Langa. And we take pride in the fact that we are impacting young people in some way.”
He adds: “Unlike our competitors, we make use of bicycles, which are quite efficient and environmentally friendly.”
The full-time student co-manages the business with a friend, Phila Seleka, who fills in the gap when he attends his studies. He cites one of his biggest challenges as time management.
“Schools demands a lot of my time – tests, studying and assignments. With Cloudy Deliveries, I have to manage people and deal with customers and tend to their needs and grievances. The school and the business are both equally demanding, and I have to try and find the balance so I can be present for both.”
Colin says he started the venture with his own money, but with the growing demand for the service; he has received support from local organisations and companies.
“We have had support in terms of resources, not financially. We started with second-hand bicycles, but later they got severely damaged,” he says. “We received seven bicycles from a non-profit organisation called Ikhaya Le Langa, another ten from the Qhubeka bicycle organisation, and five electrical-bikes from the Baroudeur Company. We also received uniforms from Lories Uniform Shop, and a container to help store our assets from Spesres educational institution.”
With the Covid-19 bringing many SME’s (Small & Medium Enterprises) to their knees and making it harder for new enterprises to achieve growth, this has not been a great climate to start a business. However, for Cloudy deliveries, this proved to be a perfect time.
“The covid-19 and lockdown had a positive impact on our business because people were in quarantine and were reluctant to leave their homes, resulting in them needing alternative ways to get their essentials. That’s when our services became a need in our community,” explains Colin.
Despite the business achieving applaud-able growth, it has not been all smooth sailing for the young entrepreneur. He reveals that he faced numerous challenges and at some point, even considered walking away from the business.
“I never thought that the business would be where it is now,” he says. “I almost gave up. If I had envisioned that we could achieve this much growth in such a short space of time, I believe, the challenges we faced would not have threatened to break me down.
“As black entrepreneurs, we must learn to take challenges as they come and know that eventually, we will overcome. Challenges come and pass. Challenges will always be there, but if you face them and stand firm, you will grow and learn to face other challenges.”
With the skyrocketing numbers of unemployment among the youth causing great concern, many young people are slowly losing hope of ever finding employment; and the Covid-19 pandemic has further fuelled their fears.
“The youth must never lose hope, even though times are tough at the moment,” advises the entrepreneur. “We must always move forward and find gaps and [just] go for it! When you start a business you don’t necessarily have to everything from the get-go – work with what you have. All you have to do is start, and everything will eventually come together.”
Colin believes that the country is blessed with young people with many innovative ideas, but lack access to funding and resources to help them take their innovations to the next level. He believes that many ideas fail due to the lack of cash injection.
“The government needs to up their game when it comes to the allocation of funding. They also need to establish alternative ways to help support young entrepreneurs. We need more programmes to help educate young people about entrepreneurship and a safe space for us to share our ideas, which can [also] help with access to funding or investment. That is crucial because these are the business that will create more employment.”
The success of Cloudy Deliveries in Langa has inspired Colin to dream beyond the confines of his surroundings. He now plans to branch out and take the venture to other townships in Cape Town.
The young man is not only a shining example of what happens when we dare to pursue our dreams; he is also living proof that we can rise and prosper, even in times of great disparity.
He defines ‘success’ as the ability to wake up everyday and actively pursue his passions. “Success [for me] is being consistent in what I do, loving what I do and having an impact in my society through what I do. I want to be that person who has helped humanity change the way they do things, in one way or another. I want to be remembered as someone who added value to this world.”
For more info on Cloudy Deliveries, go to: cloudydeliveries.co.za