For more than a century Mount Fletcher residents have had to travel 130km to Maclear and back to access private pharmaceutical services – but that is now a thing of the past, thanks to Vumile Mzinzi.
The only available pharmaceutics service in Mount Fletcher, established in 1882, was the local public hospital which was strictly restricted to patients.
University of Western Cape pharmacy graduate Mzinzi, 30, opened Ithalomso Pharmacy in November.
Mzinzi graduated in 2010 and worked as a pharmacist at Nelson Mandela Central Hospital in Mthatha before he decided to open his own business in Mount Fletcher.
“I decided to take a risk and open the pharmacy here and realised that there has never in history been a pharmacy in this town.
“ I travelled to all the towns of [the former] Transkei and found Mount Fletcher a suitable place to run this business. It is where I see prospects of booming.
“So far my business is doing well and it has a promising future,” said Mzinzi.
By opening the pharmacy and saving its residents R70 a round trip to Maclear, the Ngcobo-born pharmacist has also created employment for eight villagers.
As with any new business venture, Mzinzi had to conduct extensive research before deciding to grab the opportunity.
The Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) helped him draw up his business plan and armed him with the information he needed to approach other financial institutions.
Mzinzi said although the ECDC could not help him with finances when he need close to R1-million to open the business, he appreciated the corporation’s support in making a business plan.
“The business plan helped me because it opened doors for me to approach other funders,” a proud Mzinzi said.
When the pharmacy opened last year, villagers rejoiced to have medicines and other items so close at hand.
King Sabata Dalindyebo councillor and religious leader Archbishop Tshepo Machaea, whose parental home is in Mount Fletcher, described the opening of Ithalomso Pharmacy as a relief for residents.
“People of Mount Fletcher get sick like people of any other area. They would go to doctors who sometimes only write them a prescription,” said Machaea.
“People had to travel about 140km to and from Matatiele or 130km to and from Maclear.
“Now that a pharmacy has been opened right here in town, residents will save a lot of money and time,” said Machaea.