As many as one-in-four working South Africans are operating some kind of side hustle – earning extra income beyond their formal employment – according to recent online research done by the Henley Business School of Africa.
We’ve known about this phenomenon at Gumtree ever since the site started in 2006. We’ve seen constant growth in the past decade in posts by people promoting their part-time businesses and services.
We even coined a term for the thousands of South Africans who have launched successful side hustles online – we call them Gumtrepreneurs. That word is now listed on urbandictionary.com and it reflects the new economic reality that entrepreneurship is not a big and inaccessible concept. Free online posting means that almost anybody can have a crack at turning their skills or passions into extra income because they can test the market and reach a far broader base of potential customers without major start-up costs.
There are many different types of side hustles.
Trading goods or ‘flipping’ items at a profit is very
popular. Lamla Gqolodashe bought a
second-hand wardrobe for R500 in P.E. and sold it for R1 000 on the same day
and has been trading ever since. Ndumiso
Masuku makes essential bucks by buying and selling gaming consoles in Durban. Nompilo Nzimande,
a single mother and sole breadwinner for a family of six, buys goods which she refurbishes
and sells to community members in the KwaNdengezi Township, all via her mobile
Others invest in their crafting skills making soft toys, furniture or children’s clothing. Cooking is also a route to go – expertly baked cakes made to order or ‘secret recipe’ jams can usually find a market. While others use their talents in handiwork, clothing repairs and tailoring, fixing cars or, especially, troubleshooting technology for smartphone or computer owners in the neighbourhood.
Tutoring students is a big growth category in side hustling and it is an increasingly important avenue for retirees in desperate need of a top-up for their pension provisions.
In many cases, side hustles have turned into ‘front-and-centre hustles’ or full-time businesses. It’s worth remembering, that legendary global brands like Apple, Under Armour, Instagram and the popular game ‘Cards Against Humanity’ all started out as side-hustles. While those kinds of riches are obviously unrealistic dreams for most, what is not unrealistic is that, in these tough times, we can all use our skills and the online space to make some ‘rainy day money’ or to fund a sunny holiday.
Estelle Nagel is Gumtree SA Marketing Manager