These 2020 groundbreaking business projects will inspire you to execute your next business idea.
Here is a list by SME South Africa of unique business ideas that stood out this year.
Business idea #1: Cultivated meat
Mzansi Meat Co‘s unique mission is to provide people with healthy meat products for braais, potjies and shisa nyamas. Their meat, however, does not come from animals but animal cells.
The company’s mission is to “transform how people think about food, while continuing to eat what they love.”
They are currently testing a wide combination of animal-free biomaterials, hydrogels, plant cellulose and yeast cultures in order to engineer the optimal scaffolds and develop the traditional tastes and textures consumers know and love, according to their website.
Business idea #2: A digital library preserving indigenous African languages
Qhawe Bula, a second-year Bachelor of Social Sciences student has launched a digital library, TAQA, which offers read-along children’s audiobooks written in South Africa’s 11 official languages.
The business idea was entered into the 2020 Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition and excelled in the business ideas category (regional round), according to Ventureburn.
Bula says the main aim of TAQA is to protect and celebrate African cultures and identities.
Bula and his team have since partnered with Nal’ibali, an internationally recognised, award-winning literacy non-profit organisation, to provide audiobook podcasts in seven of South Africa’s languages.
Business idea #3: SA’s first TV meme platform
AmaMeme is DStv’s brand-new meme only platform which is created by the creative agency Guerilla, a creative agency seeking to disrupt advertising’s staid status quo.
The brief behind the AmaMeme project provided Guerilla with what Cameron Naidoo, founder and creative partner of the agency, calls the god of briefs.
“DStv aimed to find an innovative way for viewers to discover its content. We needed something provocative.
“With platforms like Giphy and Tenor having all the fun, we tapped into the power of signature Mzansi reactions – and so it was born – the ama-fire of GIF platforms, organically grown from the DStv library of local, international, sport and kids hit shows,” he says.
Just under 1, 000 GIFs created and uploaded in its first week.
Business idea #4: Safe digital consultations
The national lockdown pushed many business owners to pivot their business models and go online.
This includes lifestyle businesses and rental agents who are now providing unique virtual tours and digital consultations to individuals who are looking for safe décor services.
According to Payflex, using the Bella Bathrooms décor app, homeowners are able to enjoy an unique virtual consultation from the safety of their own homes with their designer of choice.
Unique business idea #5: Accommodation for healthcare workers
Ubuntu Beds is a non-profit that initiated an unique offering at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They provide a free and safe resting place for doctors and nurses who are front lines in the fight against COVID-19, particularly those in need of isolation or quarantine facilities. This includes hostels, hotels, BnBs, and guest-houses.
The initiative was spearheaded by Kim Whitaker who is the founder of Once in Cape Town, a combined product of two different accommodation types – a backpackers’ lodge and a luxury hotel – globally dubbed as a ‘poshtel’.
According to the website, 700 healthcare workers have checked in and have stayed a total of 12,027 nights.
Business idea #6: An unique, portable piece of furniture ideal for working from home
Lizl Naude, a self-taught designer and founder of Lilly Loompa Creative, is a pro at creating eco-friendly furniture.
During the lockdown she picked up a discarded piece of wood and converted it into an unique, eco-friendly, handcrafted desk dubbed the ‘My Africa Lap Desk’.
The desk is shaped like the African continent. It is designed to fit around the body, according to Lionnesses of Africa. It is also foldable and portable.
The idea for the desk is uniquely built “for home workers who want to create a comfortable yet stylish desk solution”, according to the designer.
Unique business idea #7: Virtual pantry-guided cooking classes
The national lockdown propelled many chefs, such as celebrity chef Siba Mtongana to offer virtual cooking lessons.
Arabella Parkinson, chef and holistic health coach of the brand Eat to Thrive, brought a unique twist to the trend with her virtual cooking classes.
According to Yoco’s COVID-19 Guide, Parkinson asks clients to share what they have in their pantries and uses WhatsApp video to guide them through recipes customised uniquely for them.
Her services include plant-based cooking workshops and one-on-one health coaching programs.
Her mission, with her virtual pantry-guided cooking classes, is to “educate people around the food that they eat, empowering them to create a healthy and sustainable relationship with food”.