20 Unique and Profitable Small Business Ideas For Men And Women In South Africa

South Africa is a wonderful country to be in – the people, the culture, the struggle for liberation from apartheid rule, the safari, and other very beautiful locations in the country are just some of the spectacular things that make this country great. It must be said, however, that not all is rosy and excellent in this great country, as it has its share of problems. Some of these problems include a high unemployment rate (rising to 44.4% in 2021), high crime, a rising poverty index, and a few more which can be traced to lack of employment opportunities for the teeming population. So, exploring profitable small business ideas is something every South African should do.

Nowadays, it is very important to have a small business not only in South Africa but in most nations of the world for several reasons. Having a small business allows you to become your own boss and take control of your life’s direction and financial future. It also allows you to channel your creative, innovative spirit into profitable causes. Asides from all the good it does for you, it is also a means to provide employment opportunities for others and help to impact your community positively while contributing your quota towards the country’s economic growth and development. If you don’t presently have a business you are into or you are unemployed or underemployed, then this article presents to you several unique and profitable small business ideas that both men and women can get into in South Africa.

Online Business Ideas

We are in the internet age presently and the World Wide Web has made our lives easier and very profitable. There are quite a few business ideas one can easily begin online that can turn out to be very profitable. Some of them include:

1. App Developer

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Becoming an App Developer is one of the unique and profitable small business ideas in South Africa which both men and women can undertake. Today, there is virtually an app for almost everything under the sun – to order food, request a ride, shop for groceries and so much more, and one of the best jobs one can do online today is to be an app developer. Becoming an app developer requires that one has medium to advanced computing and programming skills. It entails writing codes to perform specific tasks either on computers, tablets, and mobile phones – in different mobile operating systems (if necessary).

The funds needed to acquire these “coding” skills could range from a few thousand Rands to several hundred of thousands of Rands, especially if one requires taking international certifications as well. A successful app developer would rake in several hundreds of thousands of Rands per year, if not millions, and it will continue to be a business that would still be relevant in several years to come. The tools of an app developer seem very simple as they only need a laptop and mobile devices to test the Beta versions of apps developed. Acquiring these skills on the other hand would take a lot of commitment and dedication. The learner should prepare to learn and understand new technology, have the capacity for analytical thinking and intense brainstorming sessions while being creative and innovative.

2. Social Media Consultancy

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Almost everyone on social media these days is becoming a Social Media Consultant as it offers a lot of rewards. A social Media Consultant – otherwise known as Social Media Influencers, are individuals who develop very interesting content that attracts a lot of followers who either buy into the philosophy of these influencers or see them as persons who speak for them.

Social Media Influencers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, and the likes, usually have hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of followers. Brands (both local and international) would then approach such influencers to help promote their products or services – which usually comes at a cost that will benefit the influencer. Starting your journey towards becoming a social media influencer might not cost much in terms of money, but you have to put in a lot of critical thinking, creativity, and innovation into creating media content that many people would find entertaining or thought-provoking. These influencers can make anything from a few thousand Rands to millions of Rands per year, subject to how creative, entertaining, or compelling the content they have put out to attract followers are.

The amount of time a person (or an influencer) puts into creating content for people is not set in stone and can range from a few minutes a day to very long hours on end. The hard work in this business idea is the time and effort it takes to become a social media influencer. The rewards come after becoming one and putting in more work to remain relevant and entertaining.

3. FOREX Trading

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One of the profitable small business ideas in South Africa that can be done online by both men and women is FOREX trading. It involves trading national currencies via dedicated websites on the computer (or other mobile computing devices), rather than going through the commercial banks and the central banks of nations. FOREX traders basically sell currencies to other traders or end users online, and make their mark upon the volume of trade transacted. If one is committed to this business and knows the right time to bell and sell major currencies of the world that are in demand, it is quite a very rewarding business that has made several millionaires all over the world.

To begin trading FOREX, the individual would need to undergo some training in what FOREX trading is all about. In some instances, they would be allowed to do some practice trading online just to get a feel of what the business entails. An individual then requires some hundreds of dollars or thousands of Rands to fund their online wallet – which they can trade from. A computer system with an adequate internet connection is also a necessity even though trading can also be done via mobile platforms as well.

A trader can spend varying amounts of time conducting their business. It can range from just a few minutes per day to a few hours. They have to spend time watching the trend in trading activities, to determine the best time to either buy or sell foreign exchange. This business idea is open to men and women of all ages, and the rudiments of it are quite easy to grasp and master over time.

4. E-Commerce Store

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Opening and running your E-Commerce Store is perhaps the easiest to set up among this list of unique and profitable small business ideas in South Africa. There are several large e-commerce websites in South Africa – such as Takealot, Bid or Buy, Price Check, Localized, Hello Pretty, Facebook Marketplace, and several other sites that would allow you as a small business owner to upload your goods or services on their site and transact your business from there, with little or no major investments.

To run your E-Store successfully, you need to source products you know are in high demand, upload pictures of your goods on these websites, integrate your business with a payment platform, and sort out the logistics of delivering products ordered from your store to customers. Another option would be setting up your E-Store from scratch – paying for web and/or app design, integrating both front and back end of your e-store, hiring staff, paying for the online presence/marketing of your products, and every other thing associated with owning and running an E-Store, which could be in the regions of tens to hundreds of thousands of Rands.

Running an E-Store is a very lucrative business if you can attract customers in large volumes, fulfill orders quickly, and build a good reputation in the marketplace. Moreover, many millionaires have emerged from this sector all over the world in recent times, and it would not be a bad idea for you to get into this business.

5. Provide Entertaining Content On Social Media

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If you have any sort of talent at all – from dancing to cooking, cutting or making hair, dressmaking, analyzing contemporary issues or television shows, etc, then you should consider providing content on social media as a profitable business idea in South Africa. Social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, and a host of other platforms offer you the opportunity to create and share your content – which could be some of those listed earlier and much more. Getting your talent and content monetized can increase traffic to your page.

This can be done by offering your platform to brands and advertisers with plenty of Dollars or Rands to spend on product/service promotion. Connect them or display these promoted or sponsored products and services on your high traffic content that you would have uploaded to their platform.

To upload contents that will attract high traffic on social media platforms,

  • You need to first carefully organize your thoughts
  • Gather your information and content
  • Organize them in a clear, concise, and logical manner
  • Present them in the appropriate format for your chosen medium

What you will need is simply your mobile phone/tablet or laptop with an internet connection. Other equipment needed includes a very good camcorder if it’s a video or a high-end mobile phone with an exceptional primary camera. Spending a couple of thousand rands would set you up to start writing and/or filming immediately.

Kasi Business Ideas

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There are several opportunities in your neighborhood that you can explore to provide top-quality service and reap handsome rewards if you just look closely enough. Most times, these opportunities are disguised as problems faced by individuals or your entire neighborhood. Some of these businesses include:

6. Local Delivery Services

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If you look around your local community, you will find out that a lot of people want something delivered to someone they know somewhere, and if they have someone to run this errand for them, then they wouldn’t mind paying for this service. Local delivery service is one of the very profitable small business ideas in South Africa that you can start right now to make decent money. You can either decide to run this business as a sole proprietor or formally register a business with the Company and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) if you intend to employ more people to help run your business and deliver on a larger scale than just your locality.

You can help your clients deliver any legal parcel or cargo to any destination within your locality, state, or even beyond and charge them a fee or a premium for your services. You can start this business as the sole operator and this wouldn’t cost you anything much to begin operations. But the moment you grow or decide to start this business on a large scale, then you will have to invest in operational vehicles and other equipment, rent an office or several offices, and this will cost you between a few tens of thousands of Rands or even up to a million Rand or more – depending on the scale of your operation.

As your clientele grows, so will your revenues and if you efficiently manage your operations very well and deliver client’s packages as agreed, then there is no limit to the money you can make from this business.

7. Laundry Services

Owning and operating a laundry business is one of the profitable small business ideas that you can start in South Africa right now and make very huge sums of money for your services. There would be a lot of working-class executives in your neighborhood who will not have the time or equipment to do their laundry themselves at home and would prefer to outsource to someone else and pay for it. You can decide to start small in undertaking this business or you can go all out if you have access to funds to invest in the business. You can either decide to pick up the laundry of your clients yourself from their homes or you can have them drop it off for you at a shop space you rented for the service.

Going into this type of business can be both relatively cheap and outrageously expensive. If you want to start on a small scale, just invest in a good water source, washing buckets or a washing machine (which doesn’t have to be a new one), very good soaps and detergent, and fabric softeners with excellent scents and aromas all which would cost you just a few hundred Rands. On the other hand, you can decide to invest in commercial washing machines and dryers, steam ironing kits, and the whole works, and this would probably cost a few hundreds or thousands of Rands. Whichever approach you choose to start with, it is sure to be a rewarding one that will put lots of money in your bank account.

8. Food Truck Business/Corner Store Restaurant

If you know how to cook very delicious meals for a fairly large amount of people, then owning and operating a food business from either a mobile food truck or a small-scale restaurant is definitely one profitable small business idea to explore in South Africa. Eating food is one of the basic necessities of life, and people are always on the lookout for good places to eat out, especially if they do not want to go through the stress of preparing food themselves. As long as your meals are well cooked and served or presented in a clean environment, your services will be patronized and you will smile to the bank every day.

Setting up a small-scale restaurant or operating out of a mobile food truck will cost you a very decent amount of money which can range from between a few tens of thousands of Rands to up to about 300,000 Rands. Peradventure you do not know how to cook very good meals but you have excellent organizational and produce sourcing skills, you can also go into this business and hire chef(s) and servers that will help cater to your customers. As the business owner, you can make between 100,000 Rands to about 250,000 Rands per month operating this business.

9. Sports and Recreation Center

As is commonly said, “looking good is big business”, so another profitable business idea in South Africa that you can consider getting into is to open a sports and recreation center in your neighborhood, to help members of the community keep in shape and unwind after a stressful day at work. Equipment such as the treadmill, dumbbell, kettlebell, power tower, smith machine, different categories of weights, and several others, would be available at the gym for those who want to keep their bodies in shape, while facilities such as swimming pool, saunas, spa, table tennis, and Five-A-Side football courts would be available for those who want to unwind after a stressful day.

The cost of purchasing this equipment would be on the high side and could range from a few hundreds of thousands of Rands to a couple of millions of Rands. It is also very important to consider your location carefully when you have chosen to undertake this business idea as you have to site it in a location where the middle class resides. The business can be undertaken by both male and female, and good organizational skills and customer-centric orientation is highly needed to succeed.

10. Transportation Services

If you know how to drive, own a car, or are willing to lease a car for business, then providing transportation services is another profitable business idea in South Africa that you can decide to get into. You can decide to provide this service independently on your own or you can sign up as a driver with anyone (or several) of the different ride-hailing services in South Africa, such as Bolt, Uber, InDriver, YooKoo Driver, and others. There is a cleverly structured payment plan that shares the revenue made from driving riders around between the ride-hailing company, the driver, and relevant government agencies.

The cost of joining the ride-hailing service is quite minimal, but the major requirements are that you must have a valid driver’s license and a car that meets all prescribed features and functions of the ride-hailing company. This business idea is open to both men and women, and the added advantage is that you can go into this as a side hustle and not as your major job. The cost involved in this business is that required to lease a car or outrightly purchase one – that is if you do not have one already.

Small Business Ideas You Can Do From Home

Not all businesses require being conducted at a physical office location, there are quite a number of small business ideas that can be conducted right from the comfort of one’s home which does not require very large capital to commence operation.  Some of these business ideas include:

11. Become an Interior Designer

South Africa has several wealthy, high net worth individuals (HNIs) and even middle-class individuals, who have either used their resources to build very palatial mansions or have rented living spaces that they need to be decorated and filled with furniture and other ornaments that make the heart glad to live in them. This is where the interior designer’s skills and expertise are needed, to create inspired living spaces for their clients.

Interior designers plan the layout of spaces in order to create homes (and commercial spaces) that are aesthetically pleasing for their inhabitants. This business is profitable and can be done by both men and women. A start-up designer would need to have the vision and eye for color combinations, object placement and functionality, space accessibility, and a few other innate traits. Another important skill that should never be overlooked is having great interpersonal and client sourcing skills.

Apart from possessing the skills for the job, one would also need to possess several catalogs of furniture, ornaments, artworks, etc, and be able to combine them together to create beautiful interiors. The good thing is that all these can be sourced for a few thousand Rands and one can get started right from the comfort of one’s home. It should be noted that ultimately becoming a professional interior designer requires more than having “the eye” for space designing, one would need a formal education in interior designing, and with relevant skills in Computer-Aided Designs (CAD), architecture and the built environment, amongst a few other skills and competences.

12. Baking Services

Out of all the profitable business ideas in South Africa being highlighted here, one of the easiest to do would be to offer baking services to people who need baked goods. Becoming an amateur baker requires some informal learning about how to make different baked goods for would-be clients, the availability of online training resources on YouTube and other social media platforms also makes this informal learning process much easier.

Once you have learned the rudiments of baking several delicacies, you can then proceed to purchase small equipment like the dough mixer, electric or gas oven, rolling pins and board, cake platter and bread form, and a few more equipment that would probably set you back by a few thousand Rands. Then you can either bake delicacies such as cakes (for all types of events and occasions), cookies of all shapes and sizes, doughnuts, croissants,  cupcakes, all types of pies, muffins, etc, either to specific client orders or you let your creativity take over as you produce excellent baked masterpieces.

The fast-paced world we live in nowadays means that most people don’t or won’t have the luxury of time to prepare homemade meals, and would rather prefer to patronize bakers that produce quality baked goods. This means that this venture will always attract good patronage and allow bakers to turn in lots of profits as they keep doing what they do best. This business can be done by both men and women, and would probably just take a few hours of work per day, or longer if you get a very large order from your customers.

13. Makeup Artist

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Setting up yourself as a make-up artist is one of the profitable business ideas in South Africa, which you can engage in and it is available to both male and female entrepreneurs.  The fundamental requirement for this business idea is that you must know how to make other people really beautiful with the use of make-up. Contrary to popular belief, this job isn’t meant for only women as there are many male practitioners who are doing well at it.

For those who are not well versed in the use of make-up, there are so many tutorial videos online that would teach you virtually everything you need to know to become a better professional. The other major advantage of this business idea is that the cost of entry is on the relatively low side. Initially, you will require a very good make-up kit and a box to put your different items in, all costing a few hundreds of Rands, to a few thousand of Rands. As you become better known and more popular for helping your clients – bride to be, models, VIP guests, High Net worth Individuals, entertainers, etc, become a more beautiful version of themselves through makeup, your profit margins will keep rising and it can turn into a high return, full-time job for you.

14. Personal Chef or Personalized Catering Services

If you know how to cook very delicious dishes and have excellent food presentation skills, then becoming a Personal Chef or offering personalized catering services is one of the profitable business ideas in South Africa you can begin right away. Your clients will include High Net Worth Individuals, Entertainers, Corporate organizations, and highly influential people just to mention a few. If you also decide to undertake catering services, then your expertise and service would be required at social (weddings, birthday parties, family get-togethers, etc) and corporate (year beginning and end of year parties, product launches,  Annual General Meetings, etc) events.

Becoming a Personal Chef would probably not cost too much to get into except you decide to attend professional culinary schools. All you need is your skills while using kitchen equipment at the home of your clients. Owning a catering service company on the other hand requires more capital as you would be purchasing outdoor catering equipment such as electric or gas cookers and ovens, industrial food warmers, stainless steel chafing dishes, mobile refrigerators, etc. You may also need to purchase a truck or van to move your catering equipment around, and the price range of all this can be about a few hundreds or thousands of Rands. This is a very rewarding business if you are really good at it, and continue to get good reviews and referrals from current clients.

15. Home Tutoring Services (Educational)

If you have formal education up to either secondary school or tertiary education, then offering your services as an educational home tutor is another profitable business idea in South Africa that you can begin right away, with little or no capital. There are so many working parents in South Africa who don’t have the time to go over the work their children are doing in school and the time to help them with their homework and difficult subjects they might be having a hard time comprehending in school. This is where the skills of an educated tutor come to play. Asides from shedding light on grey areas, the tutor will also teach these kids the subjects they are learning in school at a much slower pace and in a more relaxing atmosphere, paying attention to those parts the children are struggling with all of which will aid better comprehension.

This is a business you can start right now by either listing your services on relevant job sites, via social media, or through your contacts and connections with friends and family. Once your services have been contracted, you simply go to the homes of your clients and tutor their kids in their homes, and the only investment you need to make to teach these kids may be to buy relevant textbooks (assuming the student doesn’t have one). This can cost about a hundred Rands or thereabout. You may also decide to use your present home or a location of your choice, print flyers listing your service as a tutor, and invite schoolchildren around your location to come and learn at a fee.

This business idea is not gender discriminatory, as both male and female entrepreneurs can get into it and make reasonable amounts of income. Moreover, if you need a venture that can get you money almost right from the first day, then this is the business idea you should explore and exploit to its fullest potential.

Small Business Ideas For Teens and Students

If you are a teenager or a student looking for ways to earn money by providing value or services, then you are not left out as well. There are a few business endeavors that teenagers and students can get engaged in, some of which include:

16. Blogger or Vlogger

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If you have an excellent thought-forming process, a way with words, and you are not camera-shy, then you may want to consider building a career as a Blogger or Vlogger. This is one of the profitable business ideas in South Africa that teens and students can do to earn a decent amount of money. A blogger writes interesting/entertaining/informative posts on a website known as Blogs while a Vlogger basically does the same thing too, but rather chooses to use video as the means of communication. The internet holds a tremendous amount of information these days, both educational and entertaining content.

Basically, all you need to do as a Blogger or Vlogger is to identify areas that you are either passionate about or possess information or expertise about and share your information with the rest of the world. Over time, as you attract more traffic to your site, you can easily target online advertising agencies that will advertise on your medium and pay you some token, which could amount to substantial sums of money over time. To begin your adventure as a Blogger or Vlogger, you can possibly start with devices that you currently own such as your smartphone with an internet connection.

As time goes on and you make some money from your efforts and content, you may consider investing in better tools such as a laptop and professional video/audio recording kits with the appropriate lighting system in order to produce better quality videos. This equipment would probably set you back by a few thousand Rands. This interesting business endeavor is open to both males and females, and if you continue to push out very entertaining content that attracts lots of subscribers, it can turn out to make you a lot of money, sometimes running into millions of dollars.

17. Graphics Designing

If you have a flair for creating captivating computer graphics, or you have the eagerness and aptitude to learn how to create graphics, then this is one of the profitable business ideas in South Africa that you should consider doing. A graphics designer basically works with graphics creation software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illuminator, CorelDraw, etc, to transform ideas, information, and other content into creative and captivating graphics that make it easier for the intended audience to understand the message better.

There are loads of software, both computer and mobile device-based, that teens and youths generally use these days to tell their stories or share their experiences already, so all it takes is for anyone interested in becoming a graphics designer to use online resources to their advantage and learn as much as possible about different ways of manipulating content with graphics, and both genders can do this perfectly well. One can begin this business idea by first learning the rudiments of graphics designing and then practicing different designs to the point of perfection.

The equipment initially needed to begin this endeavor would be an internet-enabled laptop or desktop computer system, a few notable graphics designing software, and internet access – for online learning. All these should cost a few thousand Rands. Once you become a master who has created several eye-catching or award-winning graphics designs, the scope of your earnings is endless and you may actually turn it into a full-time career. There are always opportunities to design graphics, logos, brochures, and flyers for large brands that would reward you generously for your expertise.

18. Event Planning

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Event planning is definitely one of the profitable business ideas in South Africa, that those who have the skill and aptitude can undertake. Lots of weddings and other events take place in South Africa on a weekly basis, and professionals are always needed to organize these events so they can be seamless and hitch-free. These professionals help plan how the sequence of activities would unfold in any event, help their clients to choose the best venues for their events, decorate the venue and transform it to fairy tale status. They also assist them in making food choices and coordinate several other things.

Basically, an event planner takes the weight and burden of planning an event from their clients. Event or Wedding Planning as a profession is not gender-specific, as both men and women become exceptional professionals if they put their mind to it. To become a proper professional in this field, you would have to undertake some courses in event planning and also possess some very essential skills which include critical thinking, organizational skills, time management, and planning skills, and several others.

Anyone thinking of going into this business would require sufficient funds running into tens of thousands of Rands, to purchase the right kind of tools. Some of them might include decorations, ornaments, and several other things needed for the perfect event. Once you have built up a very solid reputation for organizing splendid events, the revenue you can rake in from this venture is very rewarding.

19. Photography and Video Production

If you are in your teens or are a student that has some free time on his or her hands, then becoming a photographer or a video producer is one profitable business idea in South Africa that you should be looking at getting into right now. There are several private and corporate events happening all over South Africa daily and people are always in need of professionals to help capture the sights and sounds of those events as reminders. With very little training on the basics of taking good photographs or making good videos, you can easily begin work on this idea and as soon as you begin to make money and grow in reputation, you can then further your training in this field and become a thoroughbred professional.

The equipment needed to become a photographer is basically a good digital camera – which may not even be a brand new one to start with. The equipment needed by a video producer or editor on the other hand includes a very good video camera or camcorder (with a minimum of 1080p, but 2k and 4k reproduction capability are much better), add on a microphone, a computer system with appropriate video editing software, video lights and a video/audio mixer – if multiple cameras would be required. The typical equipment price range is between a few thousand to tens of thousands of Rands, and it is a very lucrative venture if and only if you become one of the very best in the industry.

20. Taking Surveys

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If you spend some time online every day and are in need of some extra cash, then taking online surveys is one of the unique and profitable business ideas in South Africa that should be on your mind. There are several companies and brands that need honest feedback and opinions from a rough sample of their market and demographics, and they usually go through websites or companies that specialize in offering the general public the chance to take their general or targeted surveys and earn some small token for the time and effort.

Some of these websites that provide opportunities for taking surveys online in South Africa include Survey Savvy, Paid View Point, Panel Station, Global Test Market, E-Research Global, LifePoints, Prize Rebel, just to mention a few. You can take these surveys using your mobile smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and all that is required in most cases is that you register on these websites and as opportunities to take surveys become available, you will be notified and rewarded in a variety of ways.

Some of the rewards include being credited with airtime for your inputs, earning points that can be used for purchases online or redeemed to cash, or outrightly crediting your account with some cash token. This opportunity is available to both males and females, and you are required to be honest and sincere in your responses while on these sites.

Feyisayo Oluokun
Feyisayo Oluokun
Feyisayo is a passionate writer, voracious reader and a lover of romance. She is interested in doing intensive research, traveling and exploring new things.


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