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Two Entrepreneurs Passionate About Empowering Township Businesses And Transforming Supply Chains In South Africa

  • 4 min read

One of the biggest obstacles faced by informal business owners in townships is either underdeveloped or even non-existent, logistics and supply networks. Two social innovators have risen to this challenge and, as a result, their businesses are thriving.

Mapha Logistics, founded by Loyiso Vatsha, is a South African technology company dedicated to connecting people with the best their kasi has to offer. He is committed to empowering local businesses and revolutionising supply chains in underserved regions.

After graduating from University of Pretoria as a qualified actuary, Loyiso kicked off his career in investment banking. “I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship, so when I identified an opportunity that could solve a social challenge in many vulnerable communities, I decided to leave the corporate world behind and start my own business,” says Loyiso.

Gomolemo ‘Lemo’ Motshwane, the founder of Urban Mobility

“I used my savings to fund the start-up of my company,” he explains.  “Through hard work and the support from my family and friends I have realised my vision of transforming legacy supply chains in townships, peri-urban and rural areas, which constitute over 80% of our country’s population.’

Through its comprehensive platform, Mapha Logistics enables businesses in these areas to establish an online presence, access quality stock, reach customers effectively, and streamline their operations.

Since winning an award at the SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation Awards in 2021 which provided Loyiso with funding and mentorship, Mapha Logistics has experienced remarkable growth, expanding its team from nine to over 50 employees and achieving a nine-time increase on year-on-year turnover.  

Inspired by the unorthodox problem-solving approach of Elon Musk, Loyiso strives to create lasting change in the South African economy. His dedication to technology, innovation, and community development has propelled Mapha Logistics to new heights.  With a vision to list the company on the stock exchange, Loyiso is poised to solidify his company status as a proudly South African bred business. 

“As we continue this exciting  journey, we remain focused on becoming the largest township distribution network in Southern Africa within the next three years,” states Loyiso. “I am committed to driving change in township ecosystems, creating employment opportunities, and making a positive social impact on South African youth.”

Another inspiring story is that of Gomolemo ‘Lemo’ Motshwane, the founder of Urban Mobility. Lemo is from a village in the North-West province called Makapanstad. His innovative solution provides customers with licenced motorbike drivers and motorbikes, whilst offering free training opportunities to unemployed youth. 

“I developed a passion for entrepreneurship from my grandmother who ran a kiosk at home,” says Lemo. “Watching and learning from her, I was inspired to start creating my own opportunities and positively impacting my own community in the process.”

“I saw the pandemic lockdown period as an opportunity to shift my existing business to meet the changing consumer habits,” he explains. “We created a solution to provide training and licensing for people interested in becoming drivers for delivery services that catered for the surge of online shopping and home deliveries during this period.”

Through the support of the SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation Awards and grant funding of R750 000, Lemo has been able to grow his business and make a significant impact in his community. Since winning his award, he has achieved an impressive 25% annual turnover increase, a testament to the positive impact his business is making.

“We have also created 12 jobs and helped 27 individuals secure employment as delivery drivers through our business,” says Lemo. “We have expanded our fleet by purchasing three vehicles and three motorbikes, which has enabled us to reach more customers and increase our operational capacity.“

“Through uncovering and unleashing entrepreneurial energies of individuals we will succeed in building a culture of entrepreneurship,” says Itumeleng Dhlamini, Head of Programmes at the SAB Foundation. “By empowering entrepreneurs we enable them to become catalysts for job creation.”