The man behind courier company’s lightning fast rise
While Covid-19 brought Botswana and indeed the world to a standstill for large periods, an eager young businessman was determined not to spend lockdown stuck at home.
And thus 31-year-old Mbatshi Lucas founded Fast Link Couriers, a courier service and an extension portfolio to his Uptown Car Rental business.
It began with a bike, a car and a big idea…
Tell us about yourself?
I’m a 31 year old man from Tutume.
I schooled in Maunatlala from Primary to Junior School then proceeded to Moeding College for my senior schooling.
Went on to enroll for BSC in Mining Geophysics at the University of Botswana, where I later dropped out to pursue Building Construction and Civil Engineering at Botswana College of Engineering and Technology (BCET).
Growing up, I had a very good but challenging childhood from a family of 10, poor background raised by a single, unemployed mother.
She sold clothes and pots to raise money so that she could pay for our school fees and have food at home.
So you draw inspiration from your mother and cultivated your entrepreneurial skills from a tender age?
During my senior school days I would sell peanuts and raisins, sweets at the hostels to buy toiletries.
At University, I loaned other students money then they had to pay back with interest.
I registered my first business, a supplies and construction company whilst still at school with my allowance.
I did tendering, consultancy registration of companies whilst schooling.
Take us through your journey after university?
I’ve never been formally employed since graduating from school.
I joined the streets, started Uptown Car Rentals renting cars to individuals and private companies.
Business was good; individuals rented cars almost every day, until Covid-19 came.
The pandemic hit and I had to diversify, since renting cars was impossible as movement was restricted.
Fast Link Couriers was established in June 2020 with two employees, myself included.
We started with just one bike and my own personal car to deliver: medication, masks, sanitizers, home essentials, lunch meals, pharmacy prescriptions amongst many other essentials.
That’s quite a shift change, especially during such tough times…
This business was necessitated by Covid-19 challenges. There were movement restrictions not just locally but also cross-border movements and people needed goods at their doorstep.
This allowed permits to do cross border deliveries during limited travel crisis.
Months later, a tender was advertised to distribute mails, school certificates countrywide.
I bid and won, that’s when I acquired a bigger fleet and got four bakkies, three more bikes and employed eight more people.
I look up to people who started businesses small, it is easy to notice their growth and draw inspiration from them.
We currently have two major clients who engaged us on a three-year contract, and we have private sector companies that engage us for short periods.
And how is the business doing now?
Our cross border, particularly to the South African market, is doing well, the route is busy! We recently opened an office in Francistown, and have agents in Palapye and Mahalapye.
Our clients include government ministries, parastatals, private companies as well as individuals.
We do both local and international courier and logistics services.
Our best connections in cross border courier delivery are between Botswana-South Africa-Zambia-Zimbabwe-China-USA.
How easy was it for you to start a business that is relatively unknown in this country?
It’s not easy but recommendations will always work out for you.
The few clients I got were so happy about our service so we easily get recommendations from them.
We started so small that every client we had we gave them the best of our service; that’s what makes the company grow every day.
To date, what do you regard as Fast Link’s biggest achievement?
Being awarded two contracts for courier services by Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) & Ministry of Finance stand out.
What’s the secret behind keeping your clientele and even attracting more?
Ideal location and easy access of our service, our excellent service, the list is endless so we can go on and on.
The use of technology gave us a competitive edge and purchasing for clients, which big courier companies don’t do, worked for us.
What difference has Fast Link brought to the courier landscape?
Timely deliveries, 24/7 services and being easily accessible is the difference we have brought.
How have the recent, frequent increases in fuel prices affected you business?
Fuel is costly, more so that prices for contracts are fixed so we are limited to change them.
So, even though the fuel expenses on our side has gone up, we cannot abruptly adjust our prices because we have running contracts with some of our major clients, which do not allow for adjustments until the end of those contracts.
However, for the entire business we continue to monitor the economic landscape should there be a dire need to make adjustments in other areas in the near future.
What other challenges do you face?
Sourcing of clients! Batswana are highly indebted, the standard of living has become extremely high, and at this point for small consignments some would prefer to just transport their items by buses and avoid courier companies.
Some of these services to Batswana have become a luxury, life is difficult.
As for competition, that does not worry me.
The reason I started this business is because I can deliver the service and I go with this simplicity, reliability, convenience and affordability to attract my clients.
For other international routes, we do have some partnership with DHL for international consignments.
What does the future hold for Fast Link?
Growth of course! We want to increase our fleet into bigger trucks – 7 tonne trucks to be specific – as well as our footprint countrywide and international.
Our cross-border consignments requests have shown that we need to increase the fleet to a much bigger size.
And a quick word on Uptown Car Rentals?
Uptown was established 2019 and has been doing so well since its establishment.
Its operates a fleet of about 15 cars.
Full Names: Mbatshi Lucas
Marital Status: Single
Favourite Food: Phane & Zengwe
Favourite Drink: Mango Juice
Mentors: Aaron Majuta
Holiday Destination: Cape Town