Last Updated on March 30, 2023

How to Start a Business in South Africa With Just R1000: A Step-by-Step Guide

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In a global culture that promotes main hustles, side hustles, and extra-side hustles, most people are no strangers to the idea of using entrepreneurship as an avenue to facilitate their desired lifestyles or even supplement their limited funds. Although you might believe starting a business is way out of your budget, here is an article about how to start a business in South Africa with just R1000: A step-by-step guide.

Why starting a business in South Africa with Just R1000 is possible

You might be one among those sceptics who don’t believe starting a business in South Africa with just R1000 is possible. However, through this article, you will learn precisely how to do that with limited funds. There are many unique business ideas that one can start in South Africa with little money, indeed just R1000. 

The government of South Africa has eased the process of starting a business in South Africa. Through various government agencies, most notably the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), South Africans have access to a vast array of resources meant to assist them in building successful companies.

Starting a business in South Africa shouldn’t intimidate you. Here are a few small business ideas suited for the South African market. These come from a wide range of sectors; online businesses, restaurant delivery, blogs, real estate brokerage, freelance writing, sale of organic food, dry cleaning, building online websites, offering online courses, and others. 

Research and Planning for Successful Entrepreneurship

With regards to this article titled, ‘how to start a business in South Africa with just R1000: A step-by-step guide,’ you must first conduct thorough research to ensure that you remain on the right side of the law. Through the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), the South African government offers entrepreneurs all the information they need to begin their journey. To access this information, all you have to do is visit the agency within your local municipality. All Seda branches offer:

  • Valuable information, advice, and useful referrals
  • Training on import and export procedure
  • trade information
  • business assessment and mentoring
  • market support and business linkages

Additionally, you can also get access to market research for the best small business ideas in South Africa on SAGP: library guide

Choosing the best idea for your budget

After reviewing the ideas to start a business in South Africa, you may be wondering how to choose the best idea considering your budget constraints. The first thing to remember is that although some business ideas are out of your budget, that shouldn’t stop you from developing your ideas. Many creative small business ideas can be started with very little money. For instance, buying domains, selling online courses, and becoming a social media guru.

However, suppose your idea really does need more capital, there’s a plan B. You can still apply for various types of funding available to small business owners in South Africa. There are various entrepreneurship programmes offered to business owners looking to finance their start-ups or even increase their business productivity. 

You can seek funding from the government or other private funds. However, you should carefully read the requirements or eligibility criteria to stand a good chance of actually winning the funding.

5 profitable small business ideas you can start with R1000 in South Africa

Virtual Assistants

This type of business is run online and assists clients with various administrative and technical tasks. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual work became the new normal and ushered in a new way for companies to get work done. This is an online business you can start with little initial start-up capital and the help of social media.

Graphic design

Since the world moved online, graphic design has gained prominence in our lives and is, therefore, a highly-valued skill and one of the most profitable businesses globally. Graphic designers create visual content through posters, videos, banners, and other digital products to communicate to a specific audience. Although some brands hire in-house graphic designers, many are increasingly choosing to outsource this service to third-party companies. If you have great talent in this area, this a fantastic and inexpensive business you can start in South Africa that will help you make extra money.

Domain names

Here is a fantastic example of a business that doesn’t require a huge initial investment yet can yield enormous wins. Almost every business in the world has or plans to have an online presence in the form of a dedicated business website. For a keen South African entrepreneur, this presents a wonderful business opportunity to get in early and buy ‘digital real estate’ in anticipation of future demand. For instance, let’s say you notice more and more car dealers selling cars on Instagram or Twitter.

You can pick the biggest one (or one with the potential to grow) and check whether they have or own their own domain name. If you find that they don’t, you’d then create the name. All with the plan to sell it back to them at a much higher price when they are ready to take their brand to the next level. This can be done for anything from local jewellery businesses, blogs, newspapers, or even popular personalities.

Web design 

As you know, the virtual world is taking over. With the introduction of the metaverse, there will come a time when virtual reality is our primary reality. In the meantime, more and more businesses are migrating online and closing their physical stores. This presents a unique business opportunity to design, build and host websites and other digital products for people and companies. Additionally, with the new artificial intelligence tools available, the process and complexity of building websites is becoming increasingly simpler. This means you can earn more money in less time by delegating some mundane tasks in the process to artificial intelligence.


In South Africa, like many other parts of the world, you don’t need a lot of money to trade real estate. What you need is a license and some good contacts to get your business started. The real estate market is a great way to invest a small amount and earn a lot more down the line. However, like any other business, you must do your due diligence. Therefore, make sure you understand the market before dipping your toe in.

Affiliate marketing

This is the process of referring a service or product online by sharing its benefits or your user experience with people within your network. Although different companies structure their benefits in various ways. In most cases, the affiliate earns a commission with each successful conversion. With its low start-up costs, affiliate marketing has always been an attractive business opportunity.

Social media guru

This is the wild card of the bunch and definitely one that comes with a lot of controversies. In recent times, social media gurus have received a lot of criticism for their promotion or projection of lifestyle choices that are sometimes based on false claims. Despite this, when done right, this business opportunity only requires a little initial capital investment and yet can yield massive returns. Think about jetting worldwide, meeting celebrities, speaking at the biggest conferences, and more. All this is possible if you build a loyal and dedicated audience of followers.

How to market your new business on a tight budget

When it comes to marketing your small business on a budget, you have to get very creative. For the article titled ‘how to start a business in South Africa with just R1000: A step-by-step guide,’ here are some low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses in South Africa:

Social media engagement

One of the best ways to generate high demand for your small business in South Africa is to have high social media engagement. This doesn’t simply stop at regularly posting content. It goes as far as initiating commentary, engaging with potential clients, and riding popular trends on social media. Although it involves a lot of hard work, it is one of the best low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses in South Africa. 

Incite competition

Another of the best low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses is to run a competition. You have probably seen brands organise interesting online competitions or simple giveaways to stir up engagement on their pages. The benefit of this method is that it gives you a chance to show your brand’s cheeky or intellectual side. It is also a great way to capture the attention of your target audience. This can also generate high demand for your products or services. 

Educate the masses

This is one of the most creative ways to get people talking about your brand. All you have to do is select a niche topic (ideally one related to your business) and then educate your audience about it. For instance, if you sell shoes online, you might educate your audience on how to look after their shoes in order to make them last longer. 


Many business owners hate the prospect of having to constantly meet new people and talk about their business. However, it’s absolutely essential for business success. If you consider yourself an introvert, you have to invest in speaking classes. Alternatively, partner with someone who finds it easier to talk to strangers. As a business owner, the responsibility of marketing your business rests primarily on your shoulders, especially if you are on a tight budget. 

Guest contributor

If you’re looking for a low-cost way to market your business, guest content creation is one of the easiest. Whether as a freelance writer, podcast guest, or even blog contributor, you are sure to tap into a new audience. This is true every time you step outside your usual circle or industry. There is an entire world of potential customers out there waiting to hear from you; you just have to find them!

What’s trending?

A creative way to get trending is to jump on trending topics. Social media is akin to a giant never-ending conversation, and you want to be part of that conversation. If you notice an interesting trend in your local market (especially one that fits perfectly with your brand ethos), you should comment on or participate in it. Like a jet propulsion engine, trending topics can literally take your brand from zero to hero overnight.

Top tips for starting and running your small business successfully in South Africa

Write business plan

Before starting a business in South Africa, first you should write a business plan. This will help you visualise the essential aspects of your business. Your business plan is a schema that expounds the following:

Strategic focus: This emphasises your business niche or what your business is actually about. What product or service do you plan to offer to your target market?

Marketing plan: This covers how you plan to market your business to your target customers. As stated earlier, for a business with a small budget, you will have to get very creative when marketing your business.

Operations plan: Here, your focus is on how you plan to create your product/ service. Plus, how to deliver it to your customers. How will the day-to-day operations of your business function? How many staff will you have, and what will their roles be? This basically highlights your business model. 

Financial plan: Arguably one of the most important parts of your business plan. This covers the financial aspects of your business. How much start-up capital will you need, and for what purpose? How will you price your products or services? Do you need outside funding? 


This article has been about how to start a business in South Africa with just R1000, yet some business ideas require a little more. For those entrepreneurs who require finance from the government, there are several entrepreneurship funds, and incentives offered to help South Africans build successful businesses. Simply visit the South African government website or SME South Africa for a chance to view and apply for funding for your small business. 

Register your business

After writing your business plan, the next step is to register your business with the South African authorities. To easily register your business, you can visit the South African Government Services website for important information on the requirements and the entire process of getting your start-up registered.

In conclusion, by following the advice in this article titled: How to Start a Business in South Africa With Just R1000: A Step-by-Step Guide, you can also creatively start and run your own small business in the country. Whether you design websites, create a virtual assistant service, or become a social media guru, this guide can help you achieve your impossible dream of owning your own business.

Starting a business with R1000 – what are the best business ideas in South Africa?

  1. Virtual Assistants
  2. Graphic design
  3. Domain names
  4. Web design
  5. Real-estate
  6. Affiliate marketing
  7. Social media guru
  8. Trending topics

How to get your new business off the ground on a tight budget

  1. Social media engagement
  2. Incite competition
  3. Educate the masses
  4. Network
  5. Guest contributor

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