Side hustle ideas to help you get out of debt in South Africa

South Africans are staring down the toughest of times: in late August, the country’s official unemployment rate reached a record high of 34.4%, again breaking the previous quarter’s figures.

In its expanded definition, which includes those who have given up looking for work, 44.4% of South Africans do not have an income, notes e-hailing platform Bolt.

This is against a backdrop of overwhelming debt, with recent research finding that South Africans applying for debt counselling were spending about 60% of their take-home pay just paying back debts – that’s before they could spend any money on living expenses.

South African women have an even more challenging time, with StatsSA emphasising that men are more likely to be in paid employment than women, while women are more likely to do unpaid work.

With the environment further dampened by a three percentage point drop in the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (SACCI) Business Confidence Index at the end of July 2021, and with those figures not considering the July protests, things are not looking great for work seekers.

The stats and research portray a very worrying picture, said Bolt. But the environment also lends itself to South Africans taking control of their own destinies and finding ways to earn an income: there are so many ways to set up a small or micro business that need little or no start-up capital.

“For example, a spare bedroom could be cleaned up and tidied and listed on a platform like Airbnb or even advertised as a room for hire on community groups on platforms like Facebook. Even if the room is only rented out for a few hundred rands per night, that money adds up over a month and could make a huge difference in a household’s income,” the group said.

Another way to earn extra income is by offering guided tours around places of interest in local neighbourhoods, it added.

“South Africa’s cities are home to so many historical sites and locations of interest, and anyone with a gift for storytelling and an engaging way with guests could bring history to life for others.

“Similarly, anyone with a talent for a craft could earn money by teaching others how to do it – such as knitting or crochet, for example, or painting or beadwork.”

Bolt said that someone who may be contemplating having to sell their car because they’re struggling to service its debt could turn it into an earning opportunity by registering it to drive on an e-hailing platform.

“They could drive it themselves to transport other people around in their spare time or rent it out to other drivers looking to generate an income. There are ride types for women only too, with many Bolt Women Only drivers having regular day jobs and then driving on the platform for a few hours a day after work, to top up their incomes.”

The group said that other ways to earn an income without investing significant amounts of money upfront include joining a direct marketing network, buying items on online marketplaces and then improving them before reselling for a profit.

Other options include joining a food delivery platform, or selling handmade items, whether clothing, art or food, it said.

Adding to this, Nedbank said that running an online business on one’s own is part of the new wave of entrepreneurship. Young adults who want to be the boss and are confident that they can manage their business finances are driven to create their own businesses.

‘Solopreneurship’ is when someone strikes out on their own as a full-time entrepreneur, said the lender. They run their entire business independently, taking sole responsibility for the business operations – from service provision to administration.

Nedbank said that about 81% of small-business owners (out of 30.7 million small businesses) in the United States are solopreneurs. Many are running their businesses on social-media marketplaces or using online platforms.

Examples include providing transport services through an e-hailing app, digital marketing services or selling products via an online store.

“With a particular interest in independence, the solopreneurship route is more attractive than ever as Covid-19 spurs the evolution of small businesses and the work-from-home dynamic,” Nedbank said.

These business owners are self-sufficient, self-reliant and multiskilled. This type of entrepreneurship offers much freedom and flexibility without the need to take care of big teams.

The pandemic has accelerated digital adoption, and for most businesses, going digital has proven necessary.

“During lockdown and the ongoing curfew restrictions, which placed many challenges on trade, businesses that supplied products and services digitally thrived because consumer demand shifted to e-commerce due to social distancing.”

Nedbank said that solopreneurship mainly involves running a virtual business and is dependent on digital tools and internet connectivity. A good internet connection is an essential tool for a solopreneur, ensuring they are always connected to process online orders or carry out cloud-based business functions.

The lender said that there are roughly 36.54 million internet users in South Africa, making the internet a great medium to leverage when running a small business. “The digital era is empowering virtually anyone to start a business anywhere and rely on the internet for success.”

Read: Here’s how many South Africans are still working from home – and why many have taken on second jobs

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Side hustle ideas to help you get out of debt in South Africa