South Africa’s townships have always been a hive for entrepreneurial activity, however, the over-saturation of certain sectors has affected the chances of their success. These are typically sectors with low barriers to entry and low capital requirements. This is beginning to change as more entrepreneurs look to launch businesses in previously under-explored sectors, which could give rise to the next million-rand enterprises.
Many of these trends are being driven by young upwardly-mobile black professionals who are seeking greater convenience and service. Starting a business is always a risk, but pursuing one of the promising sectors can improve your odds. Here’s a list of these ‘promising sectors’ that township entrepreneurs should consider stepping into:
Social events have moved outdoors with food markets being the leading contender in this market. The market trend has caught on in many townships across the country, with many entrepreneurs launching their own food markets or cookouts catering for that market.
These entrepreneurs are catering to a young and trendy crowd that is increasingly looking for authentic experiences such as food, fashion, and music. The growth of this trend has also meant that major brands are looking to partner with such events.
The township market is beginning to see the emergence of new players in the towing service business. While still in its infancy, if you have expertise in the space, now is the perfect time to jump in before the market becomes oversaturated.
Rental accommodation in the township is evolving to accommodate the young, working-class looking for privacy and amenities that complexes in urban areas offer, without leaving the township.
These complexes typically take the form of simple bachelor or one-bedroom apartments with no more than 20 units in total. They’re found in a gated property and some are even equipped with Wi-Fi.
The demand is being driven by cheaper rent prices, as compared to urban areas, as well as convenience. There’s likely to be growth in Kasi mini-complex, mostly around townships not far from areas such as Soweto and Tembisa.
On-demand services continue to be a rising trend as the township marketing is embracing this trend of laundry services. Just like the Kasi mini-complexes trend, the laundry service trend is being driven by the quest for greater convenience, mostly by millennials.
This market has grown significantly in the past few months with companies in this space growing their offering and are starting to add a delivery option with branded vehicles.
After completing a baking course you can even start your very own bakery and bake for customers, host cake testings, and develop recipes.
The location of your township-based business is important. You can sell products at fuel stations to take advantage of foot traffic. Starting a bakery will need some start-up costs to buy equipment such as an oven, dough mixer, fridge, scale, silver steel butcher table, and a cake counter.
Guests can experience a low-budget cinema feel when they attend pop-up movies. You’ll need to access the following equipment: a PC with internet access, a 1080hp resolution projector, a popcorn machine, a bicycle, a foldable plastic table, extension cords and plugs, an anti-theft bag, and a white fabric screen.
You can use Facebook and WhatsApp to market your events because it’s more cost-effective. Posters and pamphlets, as well as radio advertisements, can be used sparingly to market a pop-up movie day over a long period of time until the day of the event.
You can offer bike-riding lessons and host monthly social rides for local residents, as well as tourists. It’s a good idea to partner with other companies to expand your business.
Several township-based entrepreneurs have collaborated with others to host events in their communities. These events help to generate brand awareness and provide additional income streams for their businesses.
As the owner of a coffee shop you can regularly host events in collaboration with other entrepreneurs in his community. For example, you can host a ghetto session with a friend for a community-based poetry event so people could connect.
If you own a fashion or shoe shop then you can host events with a classic township backdrop. You can also have your own bi-monthly events, which can be a music session that’s centred around exploring alternative sounds. Expand your business by integrating yourself into business events and local tournaments to exhibit your services.
Expand your creativity and choose to specialise in something such as wall art, wall painting, photography, illustrations, henna tattoo, and customising clothes. You can start a creative art business because a lot of people love art.
You’ll need to start your business with items such as art supplies and a camera. Your target customers could be art galleries, schools, hotels, clubs, parties, and individuals. It would be wise to use online marketing to promote your business.
Tourism-related business ideas
Tourism services that are in demand within townships are shuttle services, tour operators, and accommodation. Here’s a list of tourism-related opportunities that will take off in townships:
There are locals in the area that want to explore outside their community, so there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to create packages to assist them to travel outside of the location.
If you’re an expert in fashion and want to be the go-to place to buy African wear, then you need to create a shopping tourism business that caters to this need.
Airbnb experiences arrived in Cape Town in 2017 and rolled out in Johannesburg in 2018. Locals get the opportunity to be the ‘expert’ showcasing cultural activities, with experiences centred around food, fashion, or physical and cultural activities.
There are experiences from Township Tour Walking in Cape Town, and urban farming in Johannesburg, to cooking classes in Durban and photoshoots in the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, as well as partying in a township in Khayelitsha in Cape Town and sandboarding in Port Elizabeth.