Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Upside of Peddling Drugs

Twenty-one-year-old South African Sizwe Nzima knew early on how difficult it was to purchase drugs outside big cities. His maternal grandparents took care of him while his mother worked by the day in Johannesburg. 

To buy drugs they needed as they aged, they needed to walk up to five hours to the newest hospital, and wait God knows how long in a monstrously long queue. And then hike home in exhaustion, hardly the best formula for restoring health!

Nzima thought a lot about this incredibly complex situation, especially in his courses at the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepeneurial Development. He speculated how to simplify the process of getting needed drugs every month. (He didn’t need a bachelor’s degree to decide that a bike would expedite his service. 

Forbes, the business magazine, has an annual competition for 5 Africans under 30.In 2013 Nzima won one of the Rand 10,000(10R to a U.S. dollar) Award which he used to buy two bikes to beat the distance problem to the two hospitals with 6-7000 patients who needed drugs every month. Soon Nzima had 250 customers! He called his service THE SIZWE NZIMA EXPRESS/MEDICINE ON WHEELS. (Richard Atkinson, BBC 8/20/13.)
The SAB Foundation for Social Innovation expanded their drug delivery scheme of Nzima and a new associate Iyeza by awarding them a Rand 100,000 seed grant to expand their business. Their TRASH BACK scheme means they don’t have to waste their return journey after the drugs have been delivered: recycling trash earns them food and clothing vouchers. This association also “recycles” ex-cons for a second chance. 

The American idealists who want to reform the horrendous hyperincarceration of the past four decades might well look into this down to earth business innovations. Maybe Forbes could stimulate some at home problems. Some “impossible” social problems like getting drugs to people homebound are only a bright young kid’s bike away!

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