Stagnant economy drives South Africans to work multiple jobs and become entrepreneurs

5 Jul 2017

Rising prices and the ailing economy are driving some South Africans to work multiple jobs to provide additional income to support their  lifestyles (55%), save for a rainy day (45%) and pay off debt (43%), according to the research findings of the 2017 Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor released today. 


The annual Old Mutual survey, which tracks the shifts in the financial attitudes and behaviours of working metropolitan households in South Africa, shows that although South Africans continue to save too little, they are resourceful when it comes to overcoming financial challenges.

Lynette Nicholson, Research Manager at Old Mutual, says that a growing number of people in working metropolitan households - particularly in the middle to upper income brackets - are finding ways to supplement their incomes by having more than one job. “This reflects a global phenomenon that led to the term ‘Slashers’ being coined, referring to the slash between their job titles: for example, editor – slash - nail technician.”

To delve deeper into this trend, Old Mutual commissioned an additional online survey of 943 working respondents who earn a monthly personal income of R5 000 or more. It found that 37% of this sample were Slashers, people who stated that they have some kind of additional sideline business or another job, while permanently employed.

Of this group of Slashers:

  • 13% stated that their additional job was similar to the work they do every day. For example: a chartered accountant who helps friends and families for a fee with their personal accounts and finances.
  • 24% stated they did something totally different to the work done as a primary job. For example: a communication manager by day, a yoga instructor by night.

Among the Slashers who hold dissimilar jobs or have different businesses to their full time employment, Old Mutual found the following interesting trends:

  • Second jobs or businesses ranged from event planning to manicuring, growing and selling vegetables, garden services, making costume jewellery and photography.
  • The majority appear to be coping well with their dual jobs, with an overwhelming 63% of respondents stating that they enjoy having more than one job.
  • However, 42% stated that they don’t really have the time for more than one job, but persevere because they need the money.
  • Only 17% of the respondents stated that having more than one job has impacted their family life/personal life negatively, with 74% saying that they don’t find it too difficult to manage more than one job.
  • 37% have embarked on these additional income streams/ jobs so that they can retire more comfortably, while 37% have done so because they accept that they will need to help take financial care of their families, ie parents and siblings.
  • Although 56% of the general working population are not saving for their children’s education, it was interesting to note that 29% of those holding down two jobs were motivated by wanting to save for their children’s education, while 29% wanted to save some money to leave to their children.

An interesting finding from the general Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor survey of 1000 working metropolitan households was that about 39% are thinking about starting their own business. This is highest in the 35 - 49 year age group (42%), says Nicholson.

Of those who claim to be fully self-employed entrepreneurs (not employed by others), about 68% said they had funded their own business by using their own savings and investments, while 22% claim to have borrowed from family or relatives.

The promotion and development of entrepreneurship is one of the priorities identified in the South African National Development Plan as well as the national programmes of various other African countries. Entrepreneurship and the small business sector are regarded as the engine of growth essential to create jobs and reduce unemployment.

Nicholson is optimistic that South Africans’ positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity can play a vital role in leading South Africa back to prosperity.

“Out of necessity great things can be borne,” she says. “We believe that through collaboration and partnerships between the small business sector and the corporate and private sectors, we can help to build a better future and a stronger national savings culture. Think of empowering enablers such as skills and business development support, financial education, training, SMME funding, mentorship and expert financial advice. All indications are that by working together it is possible to enlarge this engine of growth – the small business sector – for the benefit of the whole country.”