South Africans are no strangers to the concept of a side hustle. In fact, according to data from a recent Momentum/Unisa Household Index, an estimated 14% of all households are currently engaged in side hustles.

While many people wear multiple work hats out of a passion for a specific craft or to simply help others, side hustles more typically arise from necessity as South Africans struggle to survive on a basic salary. It’s this need for a second revenue stream that likely sparked the increase inside hustlers between 2019 and late 2021.

In response to the challenges, there was a marked increase in people from all walks of life finding creative ways to make money, across all sectors in South Africa. This saw the creation of the My Community Connects initiative from Vuma, which has seen support and partnerships from the likes of the legendary Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse to its current ambassador, Jimmy Nevis.

The programme’s online platform seeks to enable South Africa’s thinkers, tastemakers, movers, and talented shakers to move forward with their businesses and projects, by providing access to professionally produced content and upskilling individuals.

“The internet and connectivity access proved to be invaluable in the wake of COVID-19, as people’s salaries dropped and they needed a way to earn more money from home under lockdown,” says Lianne Williams of Vuma.

“People used the internet to bring their side hustles to life, and are continuing to do so with a great deal of success,” she adds.

The Index also revealed that the most prominent type of side hustle involved selling produce or food, followed by those selling items like jewellery, clothing, cosmetics, and kitchenware.

People all over the world are also harnessing the power of social media for side hustle success – and considering 90% of all Instagram users follow at least one business account, it’s no wonder so many people are looking to social media as a base for their part-time businesses and passion projects.

“Digital platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok will have provided the ideal means to market and sell these items during the lockdown, often requiring access to uncapped internet connectivity to allow for hassle-free content creation, fast downloads and unlimited browsing and research,” Williams says.

Many students, professionals, and even musicians have also made money by offering online tutoring to learners and anyone who wants to learn a new skill from home. This could be anything from maths and science tuition to help learners avoid falling behind the school curriculum to guitar and piano lessons online.

Because the side hustle game can get pretty competitive, many South Africans have realised the importance of acquiring a new skill or keeping their current skills sharp by signing up for online short courses, keeping an eye on industry trends, and always making sure they’re learning something new.

Examples of skills development resources to make use of include Yale University’s selection of free online courses, paid-for short courses through schools like Red & Yellow, or even YouTube channels and tutorials that can teach you about everything from running a successful business to establishing an online presence for your side business.

For those with a head for business and room to spare, home-share platforms like Airbnb and Homestay – two of the most popular in SA – have become lucrative ways to earn extra income by simply sharing the spaces you own. In fact, SA welcomed around 830,000 inbound guests in 2017 alone, with the typical host earning just under R25,000 by renting out their space for an average of 17 nights.

“There’s nothing more South African than going after what you want and are passionate about, and we’re seeing that access to the internet, social media, and other online resources are the common thread that runs through all these ventures, determining the level of success today’s side hustles are able to achieve,” says Willams.

Edited by Zintle Nkohla

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