Entrepreneurship, business ideation and side hustling are buzzwords in the country at the moment. With a weaker economy due to COVID-19 and an unemployment rate of 32.5%, it’s no surprise. A number of financial experts believe small business creation is what South Africa needs to get the economy going, but while online shopping may have increased, shoppers’ wallets have tightened and consumers are more frugal in their spending.

Be that as it may, consumers will spend money on businesses that prove that they can offer true value for their money. According to HaveYouHeard’s head of strategy, Ryan McFadyen, “You need to become even more convenient and improve your value offer.”

As value is more important today than it has ever been, providing a valuable solution to a widespread need is vital. But as a self starter, how do you know which businesses will provide value and therefore be more profitable in South Africa? 

From IT to farming, we outline some of the most successful business ideas in South Africa to help you navigate your new or next small business venture.

Digital marketing

In an age where digital marketing is a need, and not a want, providing social media, Google ads expertise and copywriting to help brands build an online presence is highly sought after. As marketing agencies can be expensive, you can offer your services at a more affordable rate as a freelance consultant.

App development

If you have a technical mind, and can identify a gap in the market, app development is the way to go. With the most recent statistics showing that smartphone penetration is at 91% in South Africa, apps and mobile focused platforms are incredibly useful to the South African market. 

Grocery delivery

While there are some big players in the market, their delivery options don’t always meet the needs of every customer. Plus, COVID has made the delivery of goods space an attractive option for a lot more consumers who aren’t comfortable spending long periods of time in a supermarket. As people get back to the office and don’t always have time to do a weekly shop, smaller businesses are fulfilling these needs. 

Personal training

Physically going to the gym isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, particularly with COVID-19 here for the foreseeable future. As people look to keep themselves healthy during this time, personal training, whether online or one-on-one is an ideal option if you have the skills to take it to the public.

Read more: How to start a business online

Urban farming

As the trend of sustainable living continues, people have taken to supporting organic, locally grown produce. This in turn has grown urban gardening. If you’ve got green fingers, or keen to learn how to grow your own vegetables, then starting an urban farming business is a viable option.

Man and woman farming in garden.

Mobile coffee

Locally produced coffee is another trend making its way around the country. Find a spot where walkers frequent, shoppers are passing by or workers are taking a break and you’ve found yourself a local customer base ready to try out your brew. 

IT support

With so much done online, from personal banking and admin, to full time work, IT consultants are the perfect solution for small to medium businesses who can’t afford to be charged an arm and a leg for basic services. If you have the technical skills, IT support is a vital service to online businesses.


Another service that alleviates the costly burdens of hiring a big firm. If you have the knowledge, offering tax and bookkeeping services is vital to help small to medium businesses keep their finances in order. Starting up this type of service also comes with relatively low upfront costs and equipment. You can work anywhere as long as you have access to a computer and reliable internet.

Whether you’re looking to start up your very first small business, or looking to grow and take on a side hustle that will one day bloom into your main business, these are some of the best business ideas for 2021 in South Africa. And they might just spark an idea for your next venture.