How Much do Food Delivery Drivers Really Earn in South Africa?

How Much do Food Delivery Drivers Really Earn in South Africa?

A few years back - before COVID - South Africa was a bit slow to the party when it came to online shopping. However, if lockdown taught us anything, it is how convenient it is to receive our groceries, clothes, goodies, and takeaways directly to our homes with a few simple clicks.

Our country has risen to the occasion, with amazing apps and online services provided by the likes of Uber Eats, OneCart, OrderIn, Takealot, Pick n Pay Bottles, Woolies Dash and Checkers Sixty60 to name a few!

But this article is about the anonymous Father Christmas-like delivery driver who arrives with a hearty smile and a top box full of delight.

We asked a few of the MotionAds drivers who work on the main delivery platforms across the country what life as a food delivery driver is like and what they really earn.

True Local Micro-Enterprises

What is a micro-enterprise?

Essentially, it is a very small business that operates at a small scale, typically as a sole proprietor. 

What is it like being a micropreneur? 

So, in all likelihood you or your spouse, or both of you, are employed right? That’s fantastic, seriously awesome given today’s economy. 

And, like the rest of us, you pay for your house, your car, your fuel, food, etc from your monthly salary. Perfect, seriously. We’re not trying to make you feel guilty. We just want to paint a picture. 

You arrive at work, make coffee, sit on your chair, work on your computer, do your daily grind and get paid at the end of the month. 

Now, imagine on top of your living expenses, you still need to pay for the coffees you drink during the day, rent for the office space your desk and chair occupy, your portion of internet connectivity, and the desk, chair and computer you work on, and any IT call outs or pc failures you might have along the way, plus the toilet paper you use (too far?). Oh, also, if you stop to have a quick chat with a friend, you stop earning your hourly wage. Plus, you have no insurance, no pension and no medical aid. 

On top of all of this, most delivery gigs require that the drivers have their own bikes, or pay to rent someone else’s each week. There is no maintenance subsidy, breakdown assistance, or medical insurance. 

That’s what it’s like to be a food delivery driver.

What does a typical delivery bike driver make each month?

Meet Amani. If you live in Cape Town then you might have already seen him at your front gate with some steaming hot takeaways and advertising on his top box

He comes with extensive delivery experience and even helped one of the delivery operations in South Africa get off the ground as one of their first three delivery drivers on a scooter. 

He owns his own bike that he bought with his own savings. 

Earnings: On an average week on one of the more popular takeaway services he can earn R2,200. If he works from 7am to late, with no breaks, he can earn R2,500 per week. 

“The whole industry has changed since Covid,” says Amani. “I used to do 40-plus orders a day with the one platform, now I can maybe make R250 per day or R1,500 per week if I push very hard.” 

Tips: If he’s lucky his tips for the week are R250 total. 

Challenges: With food, rent, fuel, airtime, and living expenses, he’s not quite keeping up with maintenance and his tyres are getting smooth.

Meet Steve. Steve operates in Gauteng and delivers for some of the bigger retailers and popular food delivery platforms. 

Earnings: “For early morning (breakfast) deliveries, we can earn R14 to R15 per delivery with a lunch time boost of R20 per delivery,” says Steve. “Sometimes we earn per kilometre, which could be R20 to R45 per delivery.” On average he earns R1,800 to R2,200 per week. 

Tips: Many of the apps allow for tips to be input by customers when they make their order. This helps a lot. But even so, tips range from R15 to R45 per delivery. 

Challenges: Steve’s bike is old and his seat is taped to keep it together. However he’d rather pay for food than get a new seat.

So, what can I do?

Here’s a tip. While you might not be able to pay for your regular driver’s insurance or medical aid, perhaps consider giving a nice tip with your next order. 

Smile and wave. Drivers work in a fixed area, so you’ll likely notice the same drivers delivering to your house. Try introducing yourself and get to know your driver a little better next time. The small act of kindness means the world.