It’s fair to say that Takura Couriers have had a whirlwind few months. Having been awarded ‘Overall Best Idea’ in our 2021 Hilary term All-Innovate ideas competition in March, the delivery company that helps small-to-medium size businesses deliver their products in and around Harare, Zimbabwe, has been hard at work optimising and expanding their venture. All of this whilst being selected to represent one of the most established universities in the world, in another competition.
We catch up with the team behind Takura, learn how winning All-Innovate has impacted their venture over the last two months, and what the future looks to ‘deliver’.
From mutual friends to a mutual passion
Takura Couriers was founded in 2020 by three University of Oxford students; Chido Chigwedere, Masters in Business Administration, Taf Matika, and Dennis Mazingi, both of whom are MSc students studying International Health & Tropical Medicine. Yet, prior to their studies, they developed solid friendships in their home nation of Zimbabwe, where Chido and Taf worked together at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and current-classmates Dennis and Taf connected shortly before coming to Oxford.
As their friendships blossomed, so did their love for all things entrepreneurial, and they benefitted from great examples of entrepreneurship since childhood.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to watch our parents start and grow successful businesses. Naturally, we took part as we got older with the expectation that we would eventually start ventures of our own.
“The old adage: ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ applies perfectly here. We identified a problem and went about finding a solution to it. Innovation and problem solving is something that’s ingrained into the society in our home country, Zimbabwe; and unlike other markets, there are many windows of opportunity to try new things.”
How the pandemic sparked their venture
Last year, the trio’s entrepreneurial vision became a reality as Covid-19 became the catalyst for their decision to start a courier company. The initial goal was to help connect the millions of small to medium-sized businesses in Zimbabwe that had no or limited capacity to make deliveries to their customers.
Small to medium businesses, not only in Zimbabwe but across the world, were losing vital revenue due to the pandemic and social distancing regulations. Many of these were forced to close or operate under reduced working hours under national lockdowns and were unable to reach their customers. Ultimately, Takura Couriers wanted to help bridge this gap and provide a dependable solution for these businesses.
Fast-forward a year and Takura is already transforming into a scalable and successful delivery service.
Thanks to the support we received from the Oxford Foundry, we’ve been able to increase our delivery capacity and are now working to increase the number of deliveries we make and the businesses we support.
The impact of OXFO’s All-Innovate ideas competition
Takura Couriers competed against nine other strong and sustainability-focused ventures for the crown of All-Innovate Hilary term winners. Following their victory, the founders spoke of the support and impressive networks they’ve received since:
“All-Innovate was an absolutely transformative experience that has catalysed our growth, forced us to rethink our goals and think through our ambitions for the future. The funds were transformational for our business, but even more amazing has been the support we’ve received from Katy Clapham, the Foundry, and the University more broadly.
“We’ve also networked with some impressive founders building some really compelling products and working on some very important problems.
It’s these relationships, the lessons learnt, and skills acquired that’ll be the enduring prize of participating in All-Innovate.
It was a pleasure announcing the grand prize winner. Takura Couriers had a great presentation, a great idea, and a great market, as well as the early-stage entrepreneurship experience of already trying their idea out.
Takura’s fantastic work throughout the competition led it to win the ultimate £10,000 prize funding money, in which the trio have taken a more daring and ambitious approach in their outlook. On a micro level, the prize money has empowered Takura Couriers to serve a greater number of small to medium businesses and increase its fleet, but in a wider sense, the endorsement from the Foundry has opened up avenues to raise even more capital.
Work has also started on its app and transforming the website so that it can optimise the delivery processes and customer engagement.
From All-Innovate to the Santander X Entrepreneurship Awards
In early May, the Oxford Foundry selected Chido, Dennis, and Taf to represent the University of Oxford in the Santander X Entrepreneurship Awards 2021 with their venture. The competition, an accelerator programme that aims to prepare young businesses to scale up quickly, has a grand prize of £75,000 (£50,000 equity-free seed funding and £25,000 in business development support) and offers extensive training on how to scale up businesses which is crucial for developing entrepreneurs.
“It feels surreal to be able to represent the university in this competition among so many other amazing businesses. It affirms our belief in the business and gives us a lot of hope for what the future brings.
“Many participating ventures go on to independently raise investment capital because of their training in the competition, so we’re very much looking forward to our participation!”
The Santander X Entrepreneurship Awards is currently running its open stage and selection process programmes until the end of July, with the overall winner being announced in early October.
Delivering the goods across Southern Africa
Whilst the present is rich in success stories and expansion for the young venture, the founders are looking ahead to an exciting future and have their sights firmly set on an overall objective with Takura Couriers.
“In five years from now, we hope to be the biggest last-mile delivery company in Southern Africa. We want to be a major catalyst for the growth of the e-commerce industry on the continent, and we want to connect millions of businesses with their customers.”
Be just like Takura Couriers and turn your idea into a reality! Enter our All-Innovate Trinity term competition before 6 June.