Oct 2019 2nd Edition

How to start your own transport business

Written by Dale Hes

October is National Transport Month and with the sector estimated to grow substantially over the next decade, it provides exciting career opportunities.

The Department of Transport (DoT) has estimated that demand for transport, especially freight transport, will grow in South Africa by between 200 and 250 percent over the next 15 years.

Vuk’uzenzele explores the opportunities available in the sector. These range from passenger transportation to the transport of goods. The DoT has released a handy booklet which identifies the opportunities and threats in the sector.

The booklet can be found on the DoT website.

Called Business Opportunities in the Transport Industry, the booklet covers the sub-sectors of taxi, road freight and bus in particular, as well as rail, air and maritime transport.

For taxis, the most promising opportunities range from pre-booked tours to catering, deliveries, passenger transport and the manufacture of vehicles.

In road freight, the department has identified the building of truck stops and the distribution of food, beverages, timber and general commodities as the most promising areas for small businesses.

In the bus sub-sector, scholar transport, joint ventures and maintenance present the most opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Starting your own transport business

Starting a transport or logistics business does not require vast sums of money. The industry has low barriers to entry, as anyone with a minibus or bakkie is able to start offering transport services. It is, however, essential that you do your homework first. 

Many of the small transport businesses in South Africa do not have enough funding to stay sustainable in a very competitive industry and sometimes lack knowledge about marketing, licensing and business plans. To get this knowledge, it is advisable that you study a professional course such as the N3 National Certificate in Freight Handling offered at some Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges.

It is also a good idea to join the Road Freight Association, which offers a number of support services to members.

Securing funding can sometimes be a challenge, but you should explore avenues such as the South African SME Fund or the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) in order to access grants. It is important to note that you need to have a solid business plan in place when approaching these organisations for assistance. 

The booklet can be accessed at www.transport.gov.za. For copies of the booklet, contact the Department of Transport on 012 309 3172.

*For enquiries about starting a transport business, contact the dti at 0861 843 384.

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