Middle-class South Africans are turning to side hustles to make ends meet

A growing number of South Africans are looking for a second income stream to make ends meet, with studies showing that as many as 40% of middle-class South Africans have started a ‘side hustle’, says Neil Roets, chief executive of Debt Rescue.

“These include crafts, restoring furniture, teaching languages and much more. It is a good idea if someone has the time and ability to do something like this without harming their current employment.

“However, they should avoid using debt and money budgeted for living expenses to fund a small enterprise. Always follow a strict budget and start small and let it grow,” he said.

Data collected by BusinessTech also reflects that South Africans are looking at additional side businesses to help generate additional income.

In May, a poll of nearly 3,000 BusinessTech readers showed that 18% of South Africans had a side hustle. This increased to 24% of readers in a similar survey of readers in October.

Financial adviser at Momentum, Janine Horn, said that many South Africans are seeking a side hustle to supplement their lost household income.

“Finding financial security is no longer about nailing down a job to work at for the next 30 years and retiring with a pension  – although retirement savings are essential.

“Instead, diversifying your earnings and taking control of your own financial destiny is the only path to true financial security,” she said.

What people are doing

Despite the challenging economic environment, ride-sharing company Bolt said that there are 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.”

Horn said that some of the most successful businesses in the country began as side hustles, thanks to South Africans who were passionate about making a difference.

“The line between a side hustle and a fully-fledged business is essentially a legal and financial issue, The reality is that every business has to start somewhere, and they all typically begin as part-time or after-hours ventures.

If your side hustle starts to gain momentum to the point where it looks like it could provide you with a stable income, perhaps it should be upgraded from a side hustle to a fully-fledged business, she said.

“When you are confident in your business’s growth, you need to register your business, protect your intellectual property, and secure your financial stability as soon as possible.

“If you don’t know how to do this, it would be a good idea to talk to a financial adviser to help you make a checklist.”


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Middle-class South Africans are turning to side hustles to make ends meet