Business Insider SA - 24 October 2022
Cloudy Deliveries Founder Colin Mkosi (Photo: Luke Daniel)
Takeaways and groceries are being delivered to residents in Langa by bicycle riders who would otherwise be unemployed.
Since starting shortly before South Africa entered lockdown, Cloudy Deliveries has completed more than 6,000 orders.
The delivery service fills a gap left by the likes of Mr D and Uber Eats while also addressing the issue of youth unemployment.
Cloudy Deliveries and its founder Colin Mkosi recently received recognition and funding from the SAB Foundation's Social Innovation Awards.
The money will be used to buy better bicycles, invest in technology, improve the company's base of operations, and expand to other areas.
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Residents of Langa in Cape Town call on a team of bicycle riders to bring groceries, takeaways, and other goods to their homes. The service has already completed more than 6,000 deliveries.
Langa, like most other townships on the outskirts of Cape Town, is underserved by leading on-demand food delivery companies like Mr D and Uber Eats. It's also plagued by youth unemployment. A homegrown delivery service, started shortly before South Africa was plunged into a pandemic-induced lockdown, is busy addressing both these issues.
Founded by 25-year-old entrepreneur and Langa local Colin Mkosi, Cloudy Deliveries uses bicycles to pick up and drop off orders of groceries from spaza shops, takeaways from restaurants, and even laundry from home-based businesses.
"Cloudy Deliveries is a delivery service that's similar to Uber Eats, except we use bicycles to do our deliveries," Mkosi told Business Insider SA. These deliveries fill a gap left by the likes of Uber Eats and Mr D not servicing all of Langa due to issues of crime and informal addresses that make navigation tricky.
"We are able to do it, because we are a local company, and we employ people from the community who understand the streets and know the ins and out of their community."
Cloudy Deliveries employs up to 15 riders, most between the ages of 16 and 19, who spend their days zipping through the streets of Langa after being dispatched from the company's headquarters, a modest container that doubles as a workshop. When not buzzing with the sound of Mkosi's daily pep talk to the team of young men, the metal-pitch clank of tools vigorously repairing well-used bicycles pierces the air.
"Maintenance is a huge issue when it comes to the bicycles because some of the roads we cycle on have potholes, and they're not good for bicycles," said Mkosi, adding that the 12 bicycles currently in use need constant attention to keep the deliveries flowing.
Since starting in February 2020, Cloudy Deliveries has completed more than 6,000 orders in Langa. A large part of the service's appeal is the ease at which an order can be placed and paid for.
Customers can place on an order by giving their address via a WhatsApp message or call to Cloudy Deliveries. A delivery rider when then be sent to the address, where they will receive a list of the goods they'll need to collect, along with the cash necessary for the purchases. Cloudy Deliveries then buys the goods from the shop or restaurant and returns the goods to the customer, charging a fee of between R15 and R50
"The people of Langa have been very welcoming, they really love the work that we are doing, given the impact it has on young people and the community as a whole," said Mkosi.
"Langa is really close to my heart, and I'd love to see this community grow. The challenges that we have here in Langa are also common in other townships as well, which is [mainly] unemployment within the youth. There are so many young people who are unemployed and so many who are unable to generate an income for themselves and be able to sustain themselves. So, as Cloudy Deliveries, that is one of the things that we look to address, to employ young people and allow them to sustain themselves. "
This recognition, for uplifting the community as a service provider and employer of the youth, has stretched far beyond Langa. Mkosi was recently named one of South Africa's 29 most inspiring social innovators by the SAB Foundation's Social Innovation Awards, with Cloudy Deliveries receiving a development award of R400,000.
"This is the first time that, as a company, since we started, we've received that amount of money into the business... it's truly a great honour to be recognised in such a way," said Mkosi.
"We intend on using the money to improve the bicycles that we're currently using. We're looking at getting more bicycles and better bicycles. We'll also invest in technology so that we'll be able to automate some of the processes that we do and also improve the space we're currently operating from. Maybe next year, once we get our ducks in a row, we will try to expand to a different community and see where that takes us."
‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’