The Run Transport & Logistics was formed at the height of COVID 19 , when there was restrictions on goods and people movements. Now just over the two years later, the company has managed to clinch sustainable contracts, which have set it on the right growth path. Below, founder TUMELO MOKOWE responds to questions from KOOBONYE RAMOKOPELWA

BOTSWANA GUARDIAN: Kindly provide background to the formation of The Run (Transport and Logistics)

TUMELO MOKOWE: The Run Transport & Logistics was officially registered with CIPA and incorporated as a company in terms of Botswana laws on the 1st of June 2020. The idea was conceived first as side hustle intended to meet personal and immediate family needs around everyday ad hoc errands.

From inception, the idea was to meet family needs and a select few close friends in order to sustain the operations. There was a need that was identified to fill the gap by providing pick-and-drop or messenger convenience to a select few clients. The business grew from that point to partner with some players in the retail and commercial space offering messenger services for their convenience.

GUARDIAN: As the Managing Director of the company, what are some of your major strategic roles?

MOKOWE: My title is Business Development Lead. I consider The Run to be a small business with growth potential and my focus is to unlock the potential through new business acquisition. So, in essence my key role is to find innovative ways of bringing new clients onboard while retaining those that we have been fortunate to have in our books thus far. I am also focused on business diversification strategies in an effort to grow the brand.

GUARDIAN: Who funded the company’s inception?

MOKOWE: The Run was funded by the directors from inception and that entailed the purchase of a single vehicle to kick-start the operations while closely studying the trends and potential to inform growth decisions. Going to business is risky by nature and generally, start-up funding is not immediately available. It therefore requires investment of some sort by the directors and/or shareholders.

GUARDIAN: What competitive advantage does The Run (Transport and Logistics) has, given the fact that, the market is controlled by foreign investors who boast of huge resources?

MOKOWE: Very valid question and fair observation. There is already a considerable number of players in the market offering same or similar services and undoubtedly with stronger financial muscle and capacity than we do. We remain focused on providing bespoke and personalized services to or clients. While we are driven and inspired to grow the business, we undertake this under a very controlled environment.

The idea is to not bite more than we can chew and that allows us to focus on the few clients that we have and provide them with exceptional customer service. We personalize each customer’s experience to meet their needs.

GUARDIAN: What do you think should be done to help citizen-owned logistics and transport to prosper and become sustainable businesses with notable impact in the economy?

MOKOWE: Funding will always be a challenge. That said however, opportunities exist through the business community. Intentionality is required from companies to outsource messenger services to citizen-owned transport and logistics businesses. This will not only ensure growth to the sector but also allow companies to focus on their core business while transferring the associated costs to the small citizen-owned businesses. In this way, the sector will grow and employ more semi-skilled Batswana thus reducing the ever-growing unemployment numbers, bedeviling the country’s economy.

GUARDIAN: How has COVID 19 affected the business?

MOKOWE: COVID 19 posed significant challenges to the business. If you recall, there were periods when there was a hard lockdown and there was zero movement. Many of our clients were home and as such we could not provide the regular services that we ordinarily do.

This meant that our operations had to be scaled down significantly, challenging our existence. We had to think innovatively and as the lockdowns eased, we were able to provide new services like medicine delivery in an effort to assist the needy who could not leave their homesteads.

But overall, the numbers went down as the need for regular services was significantly eroded. GUARDIAN: What are some of the major clients or sectors of the economy that the company enjoy a fair share of business from and why?

MOKOWE: We boast mainly of individual clients with a few retailers, corporate offices and restaurants that we serve. This is largely due to the fact that we aim to provide bespoke and individualized services and therefore as part of our new business drive strategies, we assess client needs and endeavour to design solutions that address their specific needs.

The idea is not to offer exactly what the market offers and this provides the differentiation in our offering.

GUARDIAN: What major opportunities do you see ahead for the logistics and transport business in general?

MOKOWE: As businesses grow and evolve, transport and logistics companies have an opportunity to partner with businesses to support their strategic ambitions. This may look anything like providing professional messenger services housed within institutions to regularized and/or on-call service provision (demand based).

This can also be achieved through flexible operating hours to meet client needs, for instance. Collaborations with retailers, for example, to provide safe and reliable delivery of goods is something that is yet to be perfected. The use of technology to enhance customer experiences is relatively unchartered in our market and this is a real opportunity.

GUARDIAN: Botswana is party to the much talked African Continental Free Trade Area. How will a company like yours benefit from this agreement?

MOKOWE: Opportunities for the transport and logistics sector for businesses our size have not become immediately clear in my mind. However, I do believe that through Trade in Service agreements, there are potential opportunities to develop and implement mutually beneficial frameworks to ease doing business across-border. As AfCFTA crystalizes, it becomes important for us to explore the opportunities that it will bring about.

GUARDIAN: Where will The Run (Transport and Logistics)'s next growth story come from?

MOKOWE: We at The Run remain resolute on growing the business and as such we will continue to explore opportunities for partnerships and new business while striving to retain those that we have. It is an aspirational desire to expand our operations outside of Gaborone and we are open to partnerships in this regard. We believe that we can leverage for mutual benefit with same or similar sized operations in major towns and villages where the need for our services are apparent.