How to start a business with no money in South Africa

How to start a business with no money in South Africa

Starting and running a successful business of any kind will require some form of capital. Is there any business that you can start with no money, at all? That’s a very tough question to answer but I will do my best. This is a guide on how to start a business with no money in South Africa.

A different approach to business

Business and warfare are very much alike in a lot of ways. Imagine that you are a general or commander of an arm of 10 men, would you wage war against an army of 10 000 men? It doesn’t matter how motivated your army is, there is a high probability that you are going to lose that war.

The same could said for business, going directly into a fully fledged business with no capital means you are setting yourself up for failure. You will face a much bigger competition with hundreds of thousands or millions of Rands on their war chest and an army of employees.

A small army can however defeat a much larger army by using a different approach to warfare. An approach known as guerrilla warfare. In guerrilla warfare; you don’t charge straight at the enemy, you use tactics like hit-and-run, sabotage, ambushes and raids.

These tactics are meant to exhaust the much larger army while buying you time to build your strength and army. Through raids and ambushes; you can collect a lot of booty, weapons and other valuables things that will add to your strength.

How does this apply to business?

It simply means that you should use the resources at your disposal to slowly build up your strength and capital. Let’s say your end goal is to open a super market but you have little to no capital. There is a high chance that you would fail if you started off by drafting a business plan and tried to get financing through it.

Guerrilla tactics in this case would be to start selling something small like tomatoes or other fruit and veg. By so doing you will eventually get enough money to open up a small tuck shop or spaza shop, which will then bring you enough money to be able to build a super market.

This approach will take much longer but you will eventually get your supermarket (win the war). Not only that, you will be at a position to take the competition head on.

How do you start a business with no capital?

Put simply, assess yourself, what skills do you have that are valuable? Use whatever is at your disposal and start there, the main goal is to slowly build up capital in order to be able to do what you truly like.

If it means that you should start off by cutting people’s grass or baby sitting then so be it. The money you make should be used to open other small businesses that you can afford and so on. If for example you only have a few potatoes in your house then plant those potatoes, water them and sell them for profit, use that profit to buy some small equipment to start your next business and so on.


This was a guide on how to start a business with no money in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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