Global Entrepreneurship Month: From Taxi Driver to Entrepreneur
Mr Philemon Nzima started working in the taxi industry as a part-time driver, with his sights set on helping people move from point A to B. “That was the ﬁrst thing on my mind; the second was to be self-employed.”
He started his business as a taxi operator in 1988 when he bought his ﬁrst Toyota. Mr Nzima now has a fleet of 15 taxis, three of which were ﬁnanced through SA Taxi between 2016 and 2018. He employs 15 drivers, ﬁve mechanics, a financial manager and his son, who works as the business manager. “That is 22 jobs in my business, excluding myself. And it’s a hands-on business – I must be there all the time to be sure the business is running okay.”
When he wanted to start buying new minibus taxis to expand his business, Mr Nzima needed ﬁnance. He was not able to secure ﬁnance through any of the banks as he was paying off his other taxis at the time and was told he would have to wait six to eight months. After hearing a presentation by an SA Taxi representative, he went straight to SA Taxi to see if they would give him ﬁnance. He says: “I was in a hurry and wanted a taxi to grow my business. And SA Taxi gave me the ﬁnance I needed.”
Mr Nzima’s taxi business provides his only income which he uses to support his family.
“I have supported my family, paid school fees for my ﬁve children and at the same time, live a middle standard life.”
He also believes that taxis play an important role in South Africa: “Although there is no subsidy from the government, the associations still manage to keep taxi fares reasonable for commuters. It is [also] easy for commuters to move from point A to B. From the commuter’s door, they just point up or down and get a taxi straight from there.”
Mr. Nzima values his relationship with SA Taxi saying: “SA Taxi is there to help. I have a relationship with SA Taxi’s stakeholder liaison team – they are people who can listen to you. And if you have any problems, they try to sort them out”. He is also enthusiastic about SA Taxi Auto Parts: “I’ve bought a lot of parts from them. I like that they are selling genuine parts – they are used but new. And the prices are affordable. With the quality second-hand parts from SA Taxi Auto Parts, I’m 100% sure my [taxi] will last longer.”