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The Most Profitable Businesses in South Africa 2024

From home-based ventures to renewable energy innovations, we take a look at some of the most profitable types of business you can start or buy in South Africa today.

You don't have to own a mine to strike gold with a lucrative business in South Africa. While the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, it pays to do your research before jumping headfirst into a money-making business.

Exploring the types of opportunities and creative business ideas that exist in the unique South African business climate will help you pursue your entrepreneurial dreams with the right measure of consideration.

So before you invest your precious time, money and effort, let’s lay out the options for you by exploring some of the most profitable types of business you can start or buy in South Africa.

In this article, you will find inspiring stories of South African small business owners who made their dreams a reality. The path to your successful business begins here!

Most Profitable SA Businesses in 2024

agriculture field


South African agriculture is a highly diverse industry that is on the rise, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.6% predicted over the next five years.

The time is ‘ripe’ for big, industry-changing ideas. Farmru is an agri-tech system that helps farmers save water and maintain optimal soil quality by using a low-cost microcontroller.

Started by a software engineer and entrepreneur from a small village in Limpopo, their ambition is to “change the old way of farming” with farmers becoming less reliant on traditional knowledge and more open to the role that data can play in maximizing harvests.

Entrepreneurs can leverage technology to drive innovation in agriculture, an industry that is largely resistant to market fluctuations and economic volatility. An agriculture business also ticks the boxes of job creation, food security, and export opportunities.

south african flag

‘ZA Goods’

From consumer goods to niche products, South Africa is rich in natural resources and known for its creativity and innovation.

The beauty of making and selling things (especially with a South African twist) is that you aren’t limited by the productive hours in your day. Passive income means that you can be selling one of your products while you are fast asleep!

Customized natural skin care products for African skin or caterpillar ice cream from Tapi Tapi are inspiring examples of South African product innovations that all started as small business ideas from home.

Consider the hippo roller that has revolutionized water transportation in rural areas and taken the world by storm with its ergonomic efficiency. If you can identify a problem, you can create a business designed to solve it.

solar panels

Renewable Energy

South African small business owners, the government and citizens alike are all struggling with loadshedding, as continued rolling electricity blackouts affect the country.

But where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. The Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme has secured $135.6 billion in investment across South Africa for renewable projects, including solar, wind, small hydro, biogas, and landfill gas.

The downstream effect from these big-budget investments is good news for plumbing companies installing solar geysers, and construction businesses that design and build with ‘off-grid’ in mind. Importing UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) devices, lithium batteries, solar panels, biogas, and the retail and installation of rainwater tanks have all become big business in the past few years, too.

The resourcefulness of South Africans is coming to the fore as they learn to harness natural and renewable energy for increased prosperity.

hotel bed

Tourism & Hospitality

South Africa is a hugely popular global tourist destination with diverse landscapes, wildlife, and cultural attractions. In recent years it has also benefited from an increase in direct flights from hubs such as the US.

Entrepreneurs looking to enter the tourism industry could do so as a field guide, shuttle service operator, or as a tour operator who puts exciting travel packages together. You could also think about starting or buying an existing hotel business.

The most profitable service business will likely come from catering to overseas tourists carrying a strong currency in their wallets. Tour guides can expect to earn around R20 500 a month, depending on experience.

Why not also think about running a hospitality business from the comfort of your home? You could turn your garden, cottage, spare room, or kasi into an accommodation business using LekkeSlaap or Airbnb. This way you can cash in on the tourism boom while avoiding overheads such as transport, office rent and utilities.



With a focus on IT services, software development and innovation, South Africa’s tech industry is growing all the time. Startups and established tech companies contribute to the industry's many success stories.

Yoco is a South African fintech company offering small businesses card payment solutions with their handheld devices, proving to be a game-changer for market traders and business owners seeking a cashless alternative.

Zindi is a community of African data scientists intent on solving the world’s challenges using machine learning and AI. Raising $1 million in seed funding, this South African startup is effectively crowdsourcing global challenges (e.g. how will a drought impact product sales or a harvest?) and then making the data science and AI tools available to all.

These businesses provide proof that your high-profit business ideas, combined with a tech-savvy sensibility, can help you find investment opportunities to level up your product or service.

Selling a mobile app is definitely the new way to strike gold or find diamonds in this country of opportunity!



Running with the theme of positive social impact, a healthcare business in South Africa could be a great money making business to consider, as you would also be making a difference to a growing population dealing with urbanization, aging, and the rise of chronic disease.

Caring for the elderly by starting a home care agency could be a great business to invest in, especially when considering "life rights" retirement communities as a more lucrative option. These property-owning, high profit margin businesses sell residents the right to live in a property (security of tenure) for the duration of their life, and when they pass away or move out, the property reverts to the retirement community’s business owners.

On a grassroots entrepreneurial level, social workers, caregivers, health insurance providers, medical equipment technicians, and pharmaceutical sales representatives are all organizing themselves to take advantage of healthcare opportunities in South Africa.

Where there’s a workforce, there’s a way to make money!



Online e-commerce is booming in South Africa, with a predicted 37.9 million e-commerce users by 2027 and internet penetration of 98% by 2029.

Dropshipping, data capturing, cloud computing, and affiliate marketing are all buzzwords in our new gig economy, where the language skills and technological tenacity of the hardworking South African are pitted against others in a fiercely competitive international economy.

Starting a website or e-commerce business has never been wiser. Set yourself a goal to begin by earning R1000 a day, and scale up your business from there.

No Sweat is the South African version of Upwork, a multi-industry hiring platform. So whether you’re looking to hire or get hired, all you need is reliable enough WiFi to show off your charming personality in a Zoom interview and you are A for Away!


Delivery-based Business

The right entrepreneurial question behind discovering the most profitable business in South Africa involves asking: how can I provide a solution to a current, common problem?

Godi Mogajane spotted one such solution after visiting his grandmother in Hammanskraalm, and finding that he couldn’t order food in the area due to a lack of mapping.

He started Delivery Ka Speed (meaning “speedy delivery” in Spitori, a mix of Sepedi and Setswana languages) in 2021, and now his township food delivery service is making more than just food deliveries — it’s making a positive community impact too.

Consider the potential of the most profitable delivery businesses globally – but where that potential hasn’t been fully realized in the South African context just yet – and you might well find the right business to invest in.

A wholesale and distribution business could be what you’re after next if your big idea takes off quickly!

Ready to start your journey into business ownership?

South African entrepreneurs face many different challenges and opportunities in 2024. We recommend researching as much as possible before honing in on your profitable business idea.

Look to proven international success stories that you can adapt with some authentic South African ‘flava’. Don’t be overwhelmed by the disparity between those already in business and those who are just getting started. If your ideas and work ethic are strong, opportunities will come your way.

If you’re thinking about buying an existing business, you can explore the thousands of profitable businesses that are for sale on our site.

To gain an understanding of all the financing options available to you, give our accessing finance guide a thorough read. Your entrepreneurial dream might be closer within reach than you think.

And lastly, if you are thinking of starting a business, make sure to read our business start-up guide. It can walk you through the process step by step, and ensure that your entrepreneurial journey is as smooth as possible. Good luck!

Helpful FAQs

What are the most profitable businesses in South Africa?

Mining and minerals, financial services, telecommunications, healthcare services, and renewable energy feature in South Africa’s top five performing business sectors.

What kind of online business is most profitable?

E-commerce, dropshipping and selling digital products (such as online courses) are three of the most lucrative online business opportunities.

What small business has the highest profit margin?

Software development (consulting services) and specialized retail are businesses with high potential profit margins.

What is the easiest business to succeed in?

A low barrier-to-entry business (such as a service-based or home-based business) allows you to get started and learn fastest. Franchise businesses also come with a proven track record of success.

Stuart Wood

About the author

Stuart is Editorial Manager at He has worked as Editor for a B2B publisher, Content Manager for a PR firm, and most recently as a Copywriter for Barclays.