The Best Time to Start a Business is Now – 10 PLUS Business Ideas for Youth [UPDATED]

Updated on 15 February 2021

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This article was published on 1 June 2020 as part of our Youth Month 2020 series, #WeMove, providing youth-focused tools and resources to help you to start TODAY. Due to its popularity, it is updated by Melissa Javan on 15 Feb. 2021.

Also in the series:
Business Funding Opportunities for Youth in South Africa
13 Youth Initiatives and Support Networks to Join This Youth Month

2020 Youth has traits and skills they should be using to their advantage – their energy, health, and digital skills.

For youth looking for ideas to launch businesses during COVID-19 look at where there is the most disruption, says Lisa Illingworth, co-founder and CEO of FutureProof SA, a skills development programme for youth entrepreneurs.

This includes sectors such as retail, restaurant industry, entertainment, health and fitness.

In addition to business ideas in response to COVID-19, opportunities are available if you are able to deliver, connect and teach.

1. Sanitation and Personal Protective Equipment

Jump onto these youth business ideas to take advantage of supply opportunities resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Manufacturing of the following:
– Face Masks
– Hand sanitisers
– Alcohol-based cleaning disinfectants

– Fumigating and alcohol-based disinfecting of homes, offices and schools

2. Home Delivery & Food Services

Start a business focused on the delivery and collection of goods and services for those who at risk, including the elderly.

– Food deliveries – Mobile spaza shops, personal shoppers and delivery.

– Micro-jobbing – getting paid to do chores for others – e.g. run errands, wait in queues.

– Mobile laundry services – including pickup, washing, ironing and delivery.

– Medical collections and chronic medication delivery.

– Mobile cleaning business (for sneakers, cars and dustbins).


3. Online & Digital Services

As digital natives, young people have the digital skills needed to launch online businesses. Other business ideas for youth worth exploring are helping offline businesses to migrate online to weather the storm.

–  Digital media services – website building & maintenance, setting up of e-commerce functionalities on existing websites.

– Digital marketing services – SEO campaigns, podcasts, copywriting and social media management.

– Blogger and influencer – use your audience to become an ambassador to help champion or endorse a brand or campaign to a targeted audience.

– Virtual assistance – provide admin support to small and large businesses virtually.

– App-based Businesses – from fitness and networking to on-demand delivery, the ideas are limitless.

– Skills coaching – teach others basic digital skills, from how to grow an Instagram account, online personal branding or putting together a digital CV.

– Peer-to-peer tutoring – can be done via Whatsapp or online.

– Online personal training – can be done over video conferencing platforms.

– Online marketplaces – offer anything from and second-hand clothing to masks and beauty products.

See also: Online Marketplace Delivers Uniquely African Products 


– Professionally capture and livestream events such as funerals, and other events. Packages can include digital posters being sent out to virtual attendees.

– Sell online digital products like eBooks, software, video, audio and music, digital art, graphics, photography or online courses or provide virtual training on any skill you are an expert on.

4. Domestic services

– Provide mobile waterless car wash services – including company fleets or offer your services in parking lots to people looking to save time while they are working or are out shopping.

– Transport and removal services – assist people move furniture or rubbish, etc. Transport tourists, packages or people.

– Gardening services, including teaching people how to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

– Cleaning of homes or offices.

– Repairs such as home, bicycle or electronics repairs.

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