South Africa’s Thumela Launches Last Mile Deliveries Platform

South Africa’s Thumela Launches Last Mile Deliveries Platform

South African startup, Thumela, has launched a counter-to-counter last-mile logistics system to make it easier, quicker, and more affordable for e-commerce companies and people to send and receive packages.

Thumela was launched in May this year with the focus of delivering packages using vetted and trustworthy public taxi drivers who follow predetermined routes. The logistics start-up uses tuck stores in townships or rural areas as drop-off and collecting places, as well as establishments in or close to public taxi ranks.

According to the company’s founder, Zamokuhle Thwala, Thumela now offers its customers the ease of combining the pickup of their packages with their daily commute, which enhances the experience of receiving packages.

“This is a problem that I experienced at hand back in 2019 when I mistakenly forgot my laptop charger at home in eMatiwane, in a rural place in Ladysmith. I had an option to use one of the courier companies, but that meant my sister had to take a taxi to town and that it was going to take between 3-5 days for me to receive the parcel in Pietermaritzburg,” he said.

“My friends suggested that we ask a taxi driver to bring it when coming to Pietermaritzburg. Surprisingly, the laptop charger was in Pietermaritzburg within three hours. That’s when the idea of Thumela was conceived, and with e-commerce booming I thought now is the perfect time to work on the idea.”

Thumela had noted that its users include a variety of small enterprises that sell apparel, laptops, and beauty and hair items through online and social media platforms.

“These are entrepreneurs who sell on e-marketplaces and on WhatsApp statuses – when the transaction is concluded, they use Thumela to ship products,” said Thwala.

With drop-off and pick-up locations in both Durban and Pietermaritzburg, Thumela currently provides deliveries between these two cities.

“There’s been calls from prosperous customers to have Thumela points in areas like Ladysmith, Newcastle and in Empangeni. And there’s been requests from customers in Johannesburg wanting to send parcels in Durban,” Thwala said.