5 side hustles you can start with a personal loan

For most part-time entrepreneurs in South Africa, many of them young professionals, the motivation to kickstart a side hustle is both financial and personal. One in 3 South Africans with a full-time job have a side hustle – partly to secure a more reliable income, and partly for the personal satisfaction they get from the side hustle itself.

‘Their side hustle is often driven by the realisation that the changing global economy makes it possible to have multiple sources of income,’ says Alan Shannon, Executive Head of Professional and Small-business Banking Sales at Nedbank. ‘In addition, a side hustle is often born of a desire to pursue a passion – a need that may not be fulfilled by the individual’s full-time job.’

In a white paper titled What is the future of work in South Africa? Examining the side hustle economy, Henley Business School Africa noted that side hustling is becoming an integral part of the economy, and that ‘Government and financial institutions are increasingly prioritising entrepreneurship and small, medium and microenterprises in their funding and skills development initiatives’.

Side hustles can come in many forms

If you’re in a full-time job, you could use a personal loan to start your side hustle. If you have a good credit profile, you might even get a preferential interest rate. Nedbank empowers you to track your credit score and build a strong credit profile.

In this article, we shared how a Nedbank client used a personal loan to add extra rooms to her house to rent out and generate more income to help meet her family’s needs. That’s just one idea – there are plenty of side-hustle gaps that can be filled if you spot them. Whether you make products to sell, buy products wholesale to resell at a profit, or sell specific services, will depend on your personal preference.

In fact, you don’t need to create a business all on your own to start a side hustle. You could explore the world of franchising, as there are many business-in-a-box solutions for budding entrepreneurs in South Africa. According to Franchise Finder, there are more than 10 franchise business opportunities for you to explore that cost less than R50,000 to start. Although you may qualify for a personal loan of up to R300,000, we’ll focus in this blog on a more affordable amount of R50,000.


You can become the next David Tlale and you don’t even need a physical store


What are your skills, what are your passions, and is there a market for what your side hustle will offer? Once you’ve decided on your perfect side hustle, what resources will you need to get started? How long will it take for your side hustle to pay off the start-up costs and start making a profit? Is your current job secure, so you can keep paying off a loan even if your side hustle is not generating profit yet? These are all factors that will determine whether it’s a good money choice to start a side hustle with a personal loan.

5 businesses you can start for less than R50k

1. A food cart

Food carts and trucks aren’t new, but they’re making a comeback worldwide. However, gone are the days of selling hot dogs, because modern mobile food businesses need to cater to wider tastes and preferences, such as vegan diets and healthy eating.

Do extensive research beforehand. Investigate the food outlets in the area where you want to operate. Decide if you want to compete with them, and how you plan to do so before you commit to a location or a menu. Investigate suppliers and build rapport with other catering entrepreneurs through face-to-face meetings and social media, so you can learn more about the challenges of running a food-based side hustle.

Naturally, this kind of side hustle needs a time commitment, so when you start, you’ll be able to run it only after-hours and on weekends. The alternative is to hire someone to run it while you’re at your day-job, but that increases your start-up and running costs significantly. You may have no option but to put in extra hours and run the operation yourself until it’s turning a regular profit.

2. An online fashion label

The beauty of living in the digital age is that you can become the next David Tlale and you don’t even need a physical store. Online fashion retail is rising in popularity and if you have a creative spark to produce clothing, you could earn decent money.

If you want to start a clothing business, you should conduct a proper study of the market to see where your range will fit in. Are you going to compete on price, or are you going to be more exclusive and price your garments higher? In fact, have you thought about collaborations? Just look at how brands like Mercedes-Benz are collaborating with clothing companies like Palace. Or maybe look at Supreme and their enigmatic business model.

Running a fashion business can be challenging if you work a demanding 9-to-5 job, but you can outsource production and even shipping to save yourself time and effort. Find your niche and produce garments that are tailored to that market with a compelling story behind your product. If you can partner with celebrities or influencers in your niche, even better. Start small, with limited lines and production runs, to maximise that R50,000 start-up budget.

3. Healthy convenience foods

Billie-Clare Dryden-Schofield started cooking baby food to freeze and sell to local moms after they complained about the lack of options for healthy convenience foods for infants. The frozen baby food proved such a hit that orders overwhelmed the entrepreneur.


You could launch a service that shoots specific drone content according to a client’s needs


Any parent will know that finding nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods that their children will enjoy isn’t easy. Convenience matters in our fast-paced lifestyles, but so does quality nutrition. You don’t have to limit your side hustle to baby food – healthy convenience foods are in demand for all ages. Family meals to heat and eat or healthy packed lunches for school and the office are other possibilities, or even small-scale event catering.

This is another food-based side hustle, but unlike a food cart, it won’t require you to have a retail location to make sales. You can run a delivery-only business from home and take orders online. That said, getting into the food business can be tough because of the costs involved in running a commercial kitchen to the required health and safety standards.

Start small and target customers in your local area. Investigate the market for bulk orders (if you’re selling baby food or packed lunches) at local creches, schools, or office parks. A subscription service might also help build up your customer base, if you’re marketing home-cooked meals to individuals and families.

4. Drone content creation

Aerial drones like these from DJI can be used for photography and videography. There are many stock content outlets that buy drone content for a fee, so you could find out which types of footage they need most and cater to that market. Or you could launch a service that shoots specific drone content according to a client’s needs. Aerial Shots is a local drone photography business that grew out of a passion to offer a niche service, delivering new camera angles and shot possibilities to visual content creators.

Of course, you’ll need to invest in equipment, but you can buy a decent camera drone for less than R10,000. You can find a selection on the Avo superapp. You'll also need to learn how to fly your drone and use the camera effectively, and the rules and restrictions relating to where and when you can fly drones. YouTube video tutorials can help to an extent, but if you take your side hustle seriously, invest in a professional drone pilot course.

South Africa teems with epic landscapes and scenery that have barely been explored via aerial photography, so you can get in now while there’s limited competition and build a side hustle that could eventually grow into a fully-fledged media company.

5. Mobile valet service

Carwash businesses are very popular. That’s not surprising, as thousands of new cars are sold in South Africa every month. When we're too busy to keep them clean ourselves, we turn to car washes for help. But there are opportunities for a more premium, bespoke service that goes beyond blasting a car with a high-pressure hose – a premium mobile valet service to look after high-end vehicles.

There’s no shortage of potential customers, judging by the car scene on social media. It is a competitive space, however, with many mobile detailing services already operating. However, if you develop the right valet packages at the right prices, you might be able to carve a niche is a lucrative trade. Valet-V tried something a little different and created an app that connects car-care providers with owners of expensive cars.


How you finance your side hustle is a decision you must make yourself based on your personal circumstances


You could start your mobile valet service through an on-demand service like this, or you could market your business on your own through social media. Leading valet professionals document their work on YouTube so that prospective clients can be assured of high standards. If you decide to film your valet work and post it on YouTube, you might be able to earn income from the video views if you meet YouTube’s monetisation policies.

These are just 5 ideas, but there are hundreds of potential side hustles you might consider – all it takes is imagination and spotting the gap in the market.

A word of caution

You should note that some side-hustle experts do not advise using a personal loan for start-up capital. Serial entrepreneur Nic Haralambous, creator of The Slow Fund, firmly believes that ‘the best kind of funding is sales’. He doesn’t think you should be looking for financing until you have a proven track record. If you choose to fund your side hustle with a personal loan, it does mean your business starts off in debt, so it will take longer to break even.

If you’re convinced, however, that a loan will get your side hustle off the ground faster, make sure you go to a responsible lender. You must be confident that your full-time job will be secure for the term of the loan before you consider this path – you don’t want a search for a new job to be made even more stressful by looming loan payments.

How you finance your side hustle is a decision you must make yourself based on your personal circumstances, so weigh up the pros and cons carefully. If you decide that a personal loan is right for you to start your side hustle, be sure to get a loan tailored to your individual needs and look for the best deal. Currently, if you take out a personal loan from Nedbank and open a Savvy Plus Gold or Savvy Bundle Platinum account at the same time, you can get R200 a month cash back for the term of your loan. Terms and conditions apply.