Millennials in East Africa are turning to Agriculture as a side business, a majority have attempted to turn their side hustle into their main focus borrowing starting capital from banks and relatives. This is according to a recent GeoPoll rapid survey among the youth In 6 African countries; Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania

As seen our 2nd report on this series on SSA millennials, image and how the youth are perceived is very important. There is an opportunity to instill an entrepreneurial mindset among those in college or working.  As noted in our 2nd report on spending habits of youth consumers in SSA, there are knowledge gaps among African millennials on areas such as effective saving plans, wise investments and financial management. As noted in the report, when asked, many would like to better understand asset financing, entrepreneurship and investment opportunities available in their respective countries. The preference towards commercial loans by many, underscores these needs.

In a continuing series on Sub Sahara African Millennials, we sought to find out the percentage of youth Africans with side business running as they study or work day jobs. This is the third rapid survey in a series on what makes the African Millennials tick, their aspirations, hopes, affinity, and habits as well as get their thoughts on leadership, governance and their future in a digital age in the best way that they know how to communicate; using their mobile phones.

Agriculture tops ICT, entertainment, online business and logistics as the most popular form of side hustle for millennials in the East African Countries; Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In West Africa countries; Nigeria & Ghana, the youth are into less conventional sectors than those mostly associated with the youth such as ICT, entertainment and online businesses. In South Africa, Food & Beverage is the more popular side hustle for many youth.

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Apart from Uganda that has the highest number of youth whose day jobs conflict with their side hustles, millennials in other SSA countries don’t experience this dilemma with many choosing either Agriculture, food & Beverage or less conventional side jobs. Interestingly, it is in Uganda where ICT is the next most popular line for side business, a very close second (20%) to Agribusiness (24.4%) among the youth.

Despite popular belief, not many young Africans have side hustles (37%). According to our survey, Nigeria has the highest number of millennials with side hustles (44.4%) followed by Kenya (40.8%). South Africa has the least with only 30%.


Out of those who indicated that they have side hustles, the main sources of their capital is in form of loans from  banks, relatives, mobile money and micro-finances in that order. Despite their more friendly repayment terms, Savings Cooperatives or Saccos as they are locally known, are the least popular among the youth and rank lower than mobile money loans, micro-finance loans or even bank loans.

Despite the known high interest rates charged by most commercial banks, young millennials in SSA still prefer borrowing from commercial banks (30%) then relatives (23%) before looking at other available options. This can be explained by the renewed focus and targeted marketing at millennials by most commercial banks in SSA. A good number of local and multinational banks have rebranded to have a more youthful look and feel with many introducing mobile banking, customized products and services targeted at millennials. Unfortunately, the same has not happened with many Savings co-operatives which are still viewed as old, boring, traditional, strict entities run by an older generation that does not ‘get’ the youth.

The most popular sources of loans among millennials for their side hustles are commercial banks, relatives, micro-finance, mobile money and Savings Cooperatives (Saccos) in that order.

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From the survey, this trend of side hustles is fairly new among young millennials with a majority still in school and a few probably in their first job. Over 73% indicated that they have run the side hustle for less than 2 years. The earnings for many who engage in side hustles is below 200USD per month with over 30% of the extra income going towards  savings while 25% goes towards school fees and a further 20% going towards utility bills.

This GeoPoll Rapid survey was conducted in February 2017 among 1,762 young Africans in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania using the GeoPoll App.