Small Business Ideas for Rural Areas in South Africa

Updated on 30 May 2022

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Small Business Ideas for Rural Areas in South Africa

With a solid business plan and a thorough understanding of community’s challenges, entrepreneurs can launch profitable small business ideas for rural areas in South Africa.

Businesses launched by rural-based entrepreneurs not only help to alleviate poverty and create employment, but also bring about innovations that are transforming their communities.

When starting a business in this particular sector it’s important to focus on selling essential goods and solving the major challenges faced by rural communities. Businesses should also take advantage of the natural beauty of their surroundings, as well as any online opportunities.

This guide provides an overview of potentially lucrative small business ideas for rural areas in South Africa.

1. Recycling

A recycling business involves collecting everyday waste and recyclable materials from households and selling it to recycling plants to be used as raw materials. Materials such as tin cans, drinking glasses and bottles, paper and plastics can be collected. One of the easiest and cheapest materials to collect are tin cans, paper and plastics, however you will need to collect large volumes to make a profit. For this type of business you will need reliable transportation such as a bakkie.

2. Bakery

There is no shortage of occasions that call for cake, including weddings, graduations, funerals and birthdays. Between events you can sell bread or help cater for funerals. To stand out you need unique eye-catching products, displayed brilliantly and great service. While your product will get you customers, to keep them coming back customer service is everything.

Your setup costs will include an oven, dough mixer, fridge, scale, silver steel butcher table, and a cake counter.

3. Transport business

Long distances are a challenge for many people living in rural areas. Many people have to travel long distances to access basic services. Some of the services that a transport business can provide are trips for medical or dental services, shopping trips to the closest ‘big’ town or city, or transporting learners to school.

The industry has relatively low barriers to entry, as anyone with a minibus or bakkie and a professional driving permit, is able to start offering transport services.

4. Tourism experiences

With tourists increasingly looking for unique and off-the-beaten path experiences, entrepreneurs can offer handcrafted activities designed and led by local experts. Some examples are providing tourists to your area with guided tours for any type of activity such as mushroom foraging, hiking or village tours.

To market your business you can list it on Airbnb Experiences. The platform allows entrepreneurs to share a local specialty or attraction. This can be marketed to all Airbnb travellers searching in your area.

5. Online businesses

Internet connectivity remains a challenge for most rural areas around the country. This makes it harder for rural communities to take advantage of the online opportunities that exist for entrepreneurs. However, there are efforts to bring wireless connectivity to areas where internet access was limited before. With access to the internet, business owners based in rural communities can sell their products across the country or globe through their own e-commerce store. Beyond selling products, entrepreneurs can remotely offer digital marketing services such as social media management, website copywriting or even virtual assistance services.


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