Things are tough in Zimbabwe. Salaries are barely keeping up for the best paid of us. And every second day you will see a message circulated that tells you once again why running a business is better than a salary. Of course, anyone who knows their stuff will tell you you’re much better off with both rather than one of the two and that’s where side hustles come in. Helping you maintain your professional advancement while cashing in big where there is high demand is great. So let’s talk about some great side hustle business ideas.

Before you dive in

There are just a few things you should be careful about when doing this sort of thing. It’s great money but you must be aware of some issues. Firstly check your workplace contract. Many workplace contracts have what are called moonlighting clauses, these prevent you from working anywhere else while employed by that company. Even in the absence of a moonlighting clause your employee may still frown upon you working at another gig particularly if it involves you publicly appearing. So ideas like being a social media influencer are out. Another issue is time. Seeing as you’re already employed you probably don’t have a lot of time available. That goes for both creating/ delivering the product and selling. Yes, there’s a lot to consider but the idea is to succeed with a side hustle not have your wings clipped mid-flight.

Hot recharge

The disappearance of cash on the street meant the disappearance or rather the diminished importance of the airtime guy at the corner. In his stead popped up the hot recharge agent. Hot recharge makes you the airtime person and there’s quite a bit of money in it. It has a very low startup cost and all you need is the phone you’re currently using. You require an Econet line and you can find your hot recharge account via Ecocash, One Money, Bank transfer, ZIPIT and even cash. Like the fallen hero the airtime vendor, it’s all about positioning.


Food is such a broad statement but it is the best way to sum it all up. Speciality baker, prepped meals for delivery, cake making and even snacks can all fall into this. Remember there is a constraint of time so you ideally want to pick food that can be prepared overnight and delivered to the customer for later consumption. You could also look at food at the weekends. COVID 19 has put a damper on things right now but you could just put your legendary braai skills to use by being the braai provider at events. This is more time consuming so be careful with this one. Startup cost varies with what you want to do.


When I say Avon I use it as a blanket term to refer to the agent distribution model that businesses like Avon have popularised. Many brands and products are offering similar arrangements. Inuka, Tiens and Forever Living come to mind. Your ability to succeed in this side hustle is determined by the size and the power of your network. By power I don’t mean financial muscle, I mean the social capital you have built as a person. If you’re known for great recommendations it’s much easier to sell to people than if you’re that cousin who introduced Aunty Miriam to Triple M and drove her near bankruptcy. Very flexible time, regular ordering periods and easy sales/marketing process are the advantages of these side hustles. Also, this has a huge potential backend; if people are happy buying one thing from you they will buy other things from you.


Do you fancy yourself a shutterbug? Well if you think you’ve talent behind the lens why not make something of it? Photography is a cool side hustle business idea because it’s flexible with time. You could specialise in party/event photography or photoshoots and schedule everything over the weekend. The barriers to entry are quite steep in this field though. Firstly there’s the matter of the right equipment which doesn’t come cheap. Secondly, you will have to invest in acquiring skills. Finally, you will also need to either know photo editing or outsource to someone who can do it very well.  There’s also great money in stock photography and a country like Zimbabwe is hardly covered in terms of stock photography. I learned this the hard way when I searched for mahacha.

Virtual assistant

This is a growing industry in Zimbabwe and why not. A well educated, tech-savvy youth with a good command of the English language and internet connections. What more do you need? You may already have or have gained some of the relevant skills such as writing, research and reporting from your career. As the gig economy grows more and more gig workers are learning that they need assistants and you can position yourself as one. The best are flexitime arrangements that require you to do non-customer or people facing tasks and part-time hours. An extra hour or two a day can get you rewarded quite handsomely. If you don’t own one you may need to invest in a computer or laptop to do the work effectively.


Of the side hustles mentioned only Avon and Hot recharge are scalable. They grow without a proportional increase in time required or overheads. The rest generally have a cap based on time and you may find the only way to increase your earnings is to increase your price. This can be done if you improve your skills and therefore value provided. However, you are operating in a market and you’re not the only game in town. Your goal should be longer money, not more.