In Pursuit For A Better Life: Few Stories Of Sub-Saharan Youth

While European and American youth plunder themselves in vast resources, African youth are not being left behind as they use the minimal resources at their disposal to find creative ways of erking out a living during their spare time. Youth Times correspondent Farai Diza has extensively travelled through many sub Saharan countries that include Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and discovered that spare time among youths in all the above countries is mostly about racking in some income.


Namibian youths have for so long taken pride in education. Education has and it still is one of the biggest sectors in that country. The Polytechnic of Namibia, University of Namibia and the International University of Management are the biggest tertiary institutions.

The high cost of fees and accommodation have left students finding alternative means of sustaining themselves and their studies. While working at restaurants is a good alternative, the issue of shift work has often left students in a quarry.

Photo: Linekkela Amupolo

19 year old Linekkela Amupolo has found buying and selling handbags during her free time more rewarding than engaging in shift work.

Accomodation and food is very expensive in Windhoek because it is the capital city. As students, we are often left with no choice but to use our free time off campus to look for money to sustain ourselves and our studies. I buy handbags at a wholesale price that i sell to my former students and even lecturers. The money that i make from the sale of handbags is enough to sustain me. My parents chip in here and there but selling these handbags has been quiet profitable for me,” she said.

Some college students in Namibia sell various wares such as clothes, belts, shoes and herbal products during their spare time in order to cover their tuition and accommodation fees.

South Africa

South Africa, the only country in the world where two oceans meet, is the mainstay of Southern Africa. The country has rich resources that has seen an influx of both legal and illegal immigrants crossing into that country.

While the formal employment sector is still very much alive, this has not prevented youth of that country from using their spare time to make some income.

Photo: Mahlatsi Dube

24 year old Mahlatsi Dube is a full time cashier at a big chain supermarket. She is a single mother of two kids and also financially supports her siblings financially. Her monthly salary is not enough to enable her to fully play herher many monetary roles.

I am a single mother and i also pay school fees for my two siblings because i am the eldest and my parents do not work and survive on government grants. At the end of the day my salary is not enough to cater for all the expenses i go through. I end up suplementing my salary by selling beauty care products, which range from soap, perfumes, make up kits etc,” she stated.

Miss Dube sells Avon products which have created a source of employment for scores of South Africans. Avon products are sold through catalogue booklets that distributed monthly by agents such as Dube.

Besides Avon products, South African youths also make income through selling braaied meat during weekends. Braai is popular in sub saharan states and it is one of the most sought after meat delicacies during weekends.


Botswana is globally famous for its diamonds more than anything. Its diamond fields aid tremendously to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Youths that are not priviledged to be part of that diamond circle have innovative ways of erking an income and one of the most popular is that of selling solar products both in urban and rural areas.

It is estimated that the demand of electricity surpasses that of consumers and most people in Botswana have turned to solar energy to run their homes, light up their geysers, use in their shops etc. The demand of solar products has created some source of income, albeit on a part time scale.


Technological advancements in Zimbabwe have seen an increase in gadgets use especially among the youth. This has led to innovative ways of generating some revenue for some enterprising youngsters.

Photo: Nyasha Mandizvidza

21 year old Nyasha Mandizvidza works as a programmer at a large company in Bulawayo, Zimbabwes second largest city. While his job pays a fortune in European nations, it is not so lucrative in Zimbabwe.

Nyasha uses part of his salary to purchase cellphones online from Dubai which he goes on to sell to retailers during his spare time. Dubai is well known for its affordable electrical products.

Cellphones are good business in Zimbabwe because everyone wants to have the latest gadget. I order phones in bulk at reasonable prices which i then sell to retailers with a mark up fee. The reason i end up selling to retailers instead of individuals is because with retailers you are guaranteed that your products move and you will have quick money and profit to order more cellphones. With individuals it is a bit slow,” said Nyasha.

With this breed of energised entrepreneurs, Southern Africa surely has its future in good hands.

Business development analyst, Darrel Fletcher of IPG South Africa, told Youth Times that the reason most youths ended up using their spare time to find alternative ways of making an income was because of the tough economic climate bedevelling the region.

Gone are the days when youths used to go out to movies during weekends. These days its all work, work and work. The economic recession that occured some years back changed the perception of how we view leisure time and business. Why would i go for a movie and use about $20 in a day when i can have a startup up business, with little income and make some profit from that entertainment money? Schools and colleges are teaching entrepreneurship and that spirit is starting to show in todays youth,” said Mr Fletcher in an email interview.

Title Photo: Shutterstock

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