Photo Sizwe Nzima

Sizwe Nzima: Africa’s Problem Solver on Healthcare

Entrepreneurs are increasingly solving problems once confined to the domain of governments.

Enter Sizwe Nzima. A true entrepreneur who believes behind every problem is an opportunity: “People can start businesses to meet community needs, rather than relying on government.”

So when healthcare lines in Khayelitsha were too long, he took on the issue through business.

His company, Iyeza Express, began distributing chronic medication to patients who would otherwise have to wait in line for up to three hours, missing work. Sizwe says he decided to be part of the solution on bicycles, in turn lightening the load on the public healthcare system through a market-based alternative with an entrepreneurial solution on the ground.

“Consumers should have the option of greater choice. Those reliant on government deserve the same choices as private healthcare users, through a competitive economy driven by entrepreneurs,” he explained.

Sizwe said government had initially wanted to stop him from providing an alternative without their control, but with the backing of his customers the authorities relented and allowed his firm to operate.

His solution ultimately benefits the tax payer by reducing the burden on the public health system, while giving choice to consumers.

Today Iyeza Express is expanding.

His company currently employs seven residents, who provide a specialised chronic medicine delivery service within the Khayelitsha area. Over 3000 scripts are delivered monthly. Sizwe says he wants to expand into other areas, and eventually nationally. Iyeza Express plans to grow the home delivery to 10 000 patients, which will create an additional 12 jobs.

Through a model expansion, Nzima says he will be able to create employment opportunities as well as improve much needed access to healthcare in other South African townships.

Iyeza Health has also created an additional revenue model through the construction and packaging of HIV Self-Testing Kits. “This is a rapid self-test device that allows patient and people to screen themselves for HIV at the comfort of their home, or discreet places,” says Nzima.

“This aims to increase screening and linkage to care by using technology and logistics to give South Africans a more discreet and confidential option of screening for HIV, using what is called the I-Test. Iyeza Health makes use of mobile applications and online platforms to allow their patients to access the online service for self-testing.”

I’ve been amazed at the stories of entrepreneurs like Sizwe, my inspiration to establish the Independent Entrepreneurship Group (Ineng), a think tank that encourages entrepreneurs to be better positioned to contribute to enabling legislation, given policy is often written by those who’ve never run a business.

Many responsibilities reserved to government can be well-delivered through innovative solutions: customers and tax payers are better off when entrepreneurs are freed to do what they do best – all while they undisputedly remain the unmatched driving force in economic development.

G Bloor