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Insight & Analysis - March 2, 2021

Here are the top 10 Business Ideas that will Shape 2021

The business landscape in January 2020 is nothing to compare with the business landscape now. The COVID-19 pandemic has birthed a ‘New’ Economy, what some refer to as the ‘New normal’ or the ‘Covidnomics’. 

As the start of a new decade sets in, it is fairly obvious that the business ideas that were hitherto considered normal may no longer be so in the new normal. Work habits have changed. So have consumer spending and buying behaviour. Businesses will now be forced to blend in or slowly go out of action. With these new variants, let us take a look at 10 business ideas which will define what 2021 looks like. 

E-commerce and logistics

True to earlier predictions, e-commerce and online sales for products and services have increased because a lot more people make purchases online now compared to some five years ago. Consumers are shifting their focus from traditional purchases to online shopping. This trend has been continuously going up as of 2018. COVID-19 imposed social distancing has helped fuel this culture so that a lot more people are now embracing online purchases. 

Merchants are no longer just taking advantage of already existing online marketplaces, but are going ahead to create their e-commerce websites where they can execute sales on their own. 

What does this mean? There will be a higher demand for logistics services that can deliver the goods. 2020 has seen a lot of independent contractors and dispatch riders springing up here and there, making some money from package deliveries despite how unstructured they are, and how they sometimes flop in their service deliveries. The year 2021 will be a good year for any logistics company that can prove itself efficient in delivering the goods. Indeed, Logistics will play an almost irreplaceable role in redefining the business landscape in 2021, after all most of the biggest earners during the lockdown were the delivery companies. 

Online Education (Edtech)

After seeing how the pandemic affected the academics and entire education landscape, schools and colleges, as well as instructors, examiners and other players in this field will look to online courses and content delivery as a way to teach their courses and meet desired objectives. Businesses that have anything to do with education are going to be fully exploring this option in 2021, and any business that can ease or smoothen the process will have a lot to be proud of. Institutions and their managers will resort to those businesses that provide platforms which help to better structure their courses and course material for effective delivery to the students regardless of location and other limiting factors.

Digital is the new normal! And, digital learning is not going to be left out of the equation. Platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, Duo and the likes are going to experience a surge in prominence. The same goes for other startups which may arise in the space. 

Technology and app development

If you are a ‘techie’ person, then you sure realise that the world is tilting more towards artificial intelligence and technological advancement. In fact, any startup that hopes to break even in the nearest time will have to come from the edge and angle of technology. Everyone is looking for an easier and faster way to get things done and technology appears to provide solutions faster than the problems can arise. 

App development also shows potential of becoming a ‘thing’.  Smartphone penetration in Africa is increasing by the day, and with it the demand for mobile applications. Reports that virtual reality software has become popular in recent years, resulting in an increased demand for VR app development.

Cybersecurity for SMEs

Year after year, the amount of money lost to cybercrimes continues to increase, and even large corporations remain puzzled as to how to keep hackers at bay. Information from a recent Facebook breach showed that at least about 50 million personal profiles were exposed to another attack.

This means that practically anyone with a smartphone and a social media account is vulnerable to some cybersecurity threat or the other, and in fact, no one can tell how safe he or she is when going online. Online banking and small retail businesses are losing potential customers due to people’s fears of entering sensitive data online to complete payments for products and services. 

Small businesses and even individuals will be drawn to a business that promises cybersecurity, and in fact for some, no price would be too much to pay for their peace of mind. If you have a knack for technology and want a way to keep hackers at bay, then creating software to protect online accounts for small businesses is a business to consider in 2021. 


The borders remaining locked are an indication that prices of food items may continue on the upward trend. This can already be seen in the inflation experienced after the lockdown where even basic commodities like corn became more costly. 

Amongst business ideas which will be sure to define 2021 is agro-based, agro-target business.This may be in the area of crop farming, animal husbandry or related ancillary services. Recent trends are showing a shift towards this sector, and for those who have the means, it is about going in big. It is where the game of numbers can be played that the most financial rewards will be seen. Regardless of the big player factor, small players will undoubtedly see great opportunities to thrive in this sector. However, if you are considering agro related business, it is important that you have adequate knowledge of what you are venturing into. You have to understand fully  how a single action could double your crop yield, and another action could wipe away an entire poultry. 

You do not need to be a pro, but you need to know what you are doing. 

Businesses that provide credit facilities

Economic trends suggest that a lot of entrepreneurs will need huge funds in the coming year, but at  significantly low interest rates. Banks and other financial institutions may not be keen to provide all the funds needed for SMEs to either kickstart operations or scale up. But this may not pose any major deterrent, as many potential borrowers care less about the institution offering them the funds, especially if their credit ratings are easily resolved and accommodated by smaller lenders with less lending restrictions and lower SEC regulations.

The caveat is that you should know enough about secured lending so that you do not run yourself out of business before even getting started…

EDITOR’S NOTE: Continue reading on page 74 of our latest magazine edition: 25 Entrepreneurs and Brands to Watch in 2021.

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