Wits grad designs app for medications after hours, as Cape duo's bicycle deliveries gain traction

Youth show entrepreneurship during Covid-19 lockdown

23 March 2021 - 12:36
Ordering medication online for delivery to your home is now possible thanks to an app designed by a young quantity surveyor. Stock photo.
Ordering medication online for delivery to your home is now possible thanks to an app designed by a young quantity surveyor. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/RA2 STUDIO

When Johannesburg-based Raees Carim’s immune-compromised relative struggled to access essential medication after normal pharmacy operating hours, he realised they were not the only one in that predicament.

His response? Develop an app where people can order and have their medication delivered.

Carim, 22, a quantity surveyor, said his family found it challenging to access a 24-hour pharmacy or an option to order medication online for delivery.

“I realised that my relative was probably one of many people facing the same issue, and it was here that the seed of PharmaGo was planted,” said Carim, a BSc graduate from Wits University.

The business, Carim said, is run in an office space by a “solid” team that contributes to app development, marketing and business relations.

“We don’t have personal shoppers. The pharmacies fulfil orders. Drivers are employed by pharmacies and deployed by PharmaGo.”

Launched earlier this month, the app has 73 local participating pharmacies that users can choose from in all provinces across the country, and has close to 1,000 downloads.

“We partner specifically with local pharmacies as it gives them the infrastructure to transact with their consumers, and it also allows for faster delivery time within a person’s neighbourhood.”

He had been working on the app since 2019. He completed it in January 2021.

“We did not expect the quick response time from consumers, but this assured us that the offering PharmaGo provides is much needed.”

Carim said the need for an app like this was more pronounced during the Covid-19 pandemic as more people, particularly those who are immune-compromised, were staying at home and in need of medical essentials on an urgent basis and more frequently.

“The pandemic further enforced the idea that a concept such as PharmaGo would be well received as the need for convenient medication delivery became more pronounced, particularly at a time where people needed to isolate and reduce physical contact at places.

“The dream was to ensure that people could benefit from the service provided and we are achieving that every day. The app was prompted by creative thinking to solve a relative's predicament and anyone else who would be in a similar situation,” he said.

“It’s gratifying to be able to help people access medication when they need it, in a convenient and secure way — while also being able to deliver daily essentials to customers without them needing to leave the house.

“We’re looking to expand into deliveries of products beyond the pharmaceutical space, and so are going to be expanding into the health, wellness and beauty space,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Langa, Cape Town, the Cloudy Deliveries bicycle delivery business, which is run by local youth, is thriving.

The business, which offers a delivery service for groceries and medication, started when Colin Mkosi, 23, and his partner Sive Cabuko, 22, saw a need when the lockdown started last year to assist those who could not get to shops because they were afraid of contracting Covid-19 or did not have the means to travel.

“I think we chose a good time to start the business as getting out of the house was a challenge for most people,” Mkosi said.

The brand, according to Mkosi, has since grown as more people are aware of the service they render.

“We have been operating every day and people are using our services. We started with seven bicycles. We now have 15 bicycles that are operating,” he said.

They employ 15 people, including school-going and unemployed youth. The number of deliveries they do per day has also increased from six to about 15, Mkosi said.

Their clients contact them via WhatsApp or call them. Deliveries cost between R10 and R50, depending on the distance. They charge R30 to collect medication at local clinics.

“We have plans to develop an application on which customers can request a delivery service, and where they can track the progress of their order.”

They also have plans to expand their customer reach beyond Langa.

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