Businesses based on the sharing economy business framework or models have been on the rise lately. The growth has been so significant that it’s now a thriving industry on its own. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the terminology ‘sharing economy’ let me explain a bit. The sharing economy denotes business initiatives that are premised on people’s willingness to either rent or borrow goods or services as opposed to purchasing them outright. The sharing economy is synonymously known as the collaborative consumption economy. These types of businesses have been made possible and easy to conduct due to the internet and social media. The proliferation of smartphone usage and mobile app development has also greatly catalysed the growth of this industry. In this article I’ll be discussing some of the sharing economy business ideas for Zimbabwe.
The likes of Uber and Lyft are some of the notable players to popularize ride-sharing or ride-hailing services. In Africa we have seen the likes of Vaya Africa, Hwindi and Toda as some of the examples that have emerged so far. The commuting community is quite populous and especially in Zimbabwe they’re subject to a lot of pressure to access affordable transportation. One of the most elementary ways to start a ride-sharing business is to capitalize on vehicle owners who commute to and fro work daily. Chances can be quite high that they’ll be having seats that can accommodate extra people. Since people wouldn’t mind making some extra money this can be leveraged on to start a business. The operating arrangement of not necessarily having to own any vehicles makes starting this business relatively easier. You can broaden your sight and consider ride-sharing of other types of on-demand vehicles such as haulage trucks, pick-up trucks or tractors. Due to the high demand for cargo carriage and farming activities in Zimbabwe you can tap into that.
Bike Sharing Services
This essentially is also like ride-sharing but being mainly focused on bikes. I actually think one can even diversify into various other types of bikes other than the ordinary ones namely, motorbikes, scooter and so on. Looking at how it’s done in China, the basic approach is to actually own the bikes i.e. a bike sharing service provider tends to actually source and provide the bikes. This of course doesn’t stop one from exploring the idea of allowing bike owners to share their bikes just like in ride-sharing. Locally some activity in this space has already started picking up with a recent example being Eastern Adventures. Eastern Adventures (a touring business) now offers a daily rent-a-bike service in and around Mutare (costing ZWL$25 per hour). The route spans from Mutare Museum through Utopia House, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Kopje House and ultimately to Christmas Pass (a 12 km bike ride). So this is a service that can be introduced especially for short routes that are busy.
Software Or Tech Sharing
There are various types of software or tech that can be unaffordable for most people. Yet on the other hand these items will be highly necessary for people’s to day to day lives. For instance, due to the current power challenges, power banks are needed a lot. You can do a business around renting power banks and that can be quite profitable. It can even be offering charging stations for mobile devices. Then on software you can lookout for software that’s commonly used but which isn’t that easy for people to actually purchase and then you rent its usage.
The idea of renting clothing is common in the weddings space and it’s a good business. You can expand it to many other types of clothing items that are exclusive but on demand. To even extend it further you can also include the rental of jewellery and other related accessories.
Sports Gear And Equipment Rentals
A lot of sporting gear can be very expensive to purchase. I recall when I was in high school I was a field hockey player but getting a full standard kit was tough because I was a goalie. At one point I had to be lent a standard Obo kit from a particular private school. Scenarios like these can be widespread across all sporting disciplines. By noting key sports that require specialized kits or equipment you can source them and rent them out.
Parking Space Rental
Getting a convenient parking space in the central business district can be a nightmare in most places. Interestingly you’ll find that there are people who own premises with vast parking space or open spaces that are underutilized. Creating a business focused on renting out such parking lots or open spaces can be a lucrative venture.
Several tech hubs in Zimbabwe have caught on to this initiative. A co-working space is a basically a room or rooms or working space that can be paid for so that one can use it for a specified period of time e.g. an hour or so. This can involve the renting out of office space, boardrooms and so on. It’s not about renting out for the long haul, as in, a lease but it’s about a working space anyone can pay to use for a particular time slot. This is a very profitable venture if taken seriously especially these days with soaring numbers of students.
This is also another good sharing economy business idea. I have had the opportunity to actually test out some excellent self-service houses and the money such owners make is exceptional. The interesting thing is that if you use a house for self-service clients you earn more than you would if you’re renting it out exclusively to, say one person or a family. The privacy that comes with such houses is most preferable – it’s kind of like Airbnb.
These are 8 of some of the sharing economy business ideas that you can try out. All of these business ideas are relevant to Zimbabwe right now.