Side-hustlers and slashers on the rise in SA middle class

Share this...

There is, of course, nothing new about making some extra money on the side.  Whether you’re saving for a dream holiday or just trying to keep the wolf from the door during a tough time, taking on a second job, finding a hobby that pays or starting a small business from home are tried and tested ways to boost your income.

The digitalisation of the world has though opened up a far wider range of opportunities to hustle on the side and potentially engage an audience of unprecedented size.  If you can find the time and energy for it, you can activate multiple income streams by registering your spare room on a rental platform, consulting via Zoom to companies anywhere in the world, buying and selling goods on eBay, and turning your passion for baking into an ad money making YouTube channel.

There is a global view that modern side-hustlers and slashers (e.g. ‘I’m a teacher/photographer/consultant’) are ushering in a new era of work where having sustainable income streams in addition to a salary will become the norm, casting the traditional employer opposition to moonlighting by the wayside.  And for young people getting ahead in new careers, side hustles are often touted not just as ways to make more cash, but to develop the talents that aren’t being used in their 9 to 5’s, to keep more doors open to them in a fast-changing world and to attain greater purpose and fulfilment in life.

Whether the motivation is aspiration or desperation, side hustles are important to a significant portion of South Africa’s mid and top-income earners.  BrandMapp, the country’s most comprehensive survey of those living in households with a monthly income of R10 000+ reports that 43% have a secondary income, and for 30% of them that comes from side hustles such as running small businesses, home industries and working at jobs that are completely different from their main work.

BrandMapp Director of storytelling, Brandon de Kock, says, “In 2019, 63% of our respondents had just one source of income, their job.  By this year, that percent has gone down to 57%.  In the current economic conditions, it wouldn’t be surprising if many of these side hustles are simply helping people make ends meet.  What is interesting is to use BrandMapp’s versatile data set to understand more about the slashers and what they are doing.”

According to the BrandMapp 2022 data, only 24% of full-time employed people are slashers, but 47% of South Africa’s self-employed entrepreneurs are slashers which is significantly over the total average of 30%.  But does wearing many hats pay off? 

Work harder, do better!

When asked how they are feeling financially in 2022, slashers are only a little bit more likely to be feeling the same or better off compared to non-slashers than they did in 2020 which is yet another indicator that side-hustles are primarily filling a financial gap rather than being an ‘add-on’. But it’s when you consider work environment and type of employment that the real indicators of side-hustlership start to reveal themselves.

“For starters, the vast majority of slashers are hybrid workers, like 65%.” explains de Kock. “There are obviously many reasons why that’s the case, but I’m sure one of drivers is that fully employed people who are now working from home will feel less sheepish having a sideline without the boss looking over their shoulder! And the irony is that there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to show that employees who are working from home are more productive than ever. So, the companies are winning, and so are their side-hustling employees!”

A young person’s work

Anyone can have a side hustle, but the data reveals that more creatives (artists and writers in particular), software developers, management consultants and sales professionals get it together. And there are also certain industries such as the restaurant, tourism, beauty and leisure sectors where a side hustle is obviously part of the landscape. But one of the most revealing insights is that there’s a clear age-continuum at play in the world of side-hustles.

De Kock says, “It’s clear when it comes to age that digital natives with their deftness at multi-tasking and rapid task-swapping have more flair, time and energy for side-hustles. And you have to remember that the demographic reality of South Africa leaves us with one of the youngest skilled workforces in the world. So, if you ask me, what we’re looking at here is certainly not a passing trend: the side hustle is here to stay.”

To find out more about BrandMapp 2022, visit