Women best placed to join the gig economy

Women best placed to join the gig economy
Women best placed to join the gig economy

The sharing economy, the gig-economy, the on-demand economy or the platform economy, freelancing has evolved into a wonderful opportunity for women who are looking for a way to find that elusive work life balance and better accommodate their families, says Lynette Van Locherenberg, Head of 1st for Women Insurance.

“Simply put, the gig economy has become a more technologically driven and globalised form of freelancing and women are seeing the appeal. It allows them to create a world which is better suited to their lifestyles and their home commitments. It also helps women to break through the limitations of glass ceilings which still exist in the corporate world,” says Van Locherenberg.

Platforms such as Upwork, PeoplePerHour and Fiverr are just some of the resources available for women to tap into. People can set up their profiles and bid on jobs which are most relevant to their skill sets and it allows them to set their own hourly rates.

“Whether you are entering the working world for the first time or have formally retired but still want to earn an income on your terms, the gig economy doesn’t discriminate. People are hired based on their skills, how they are ranked in terms of their abilities and even what they put forward as their hourly rates,” explains Van Locherenberg. “Even more appealing for women, especially professionals such as doctors and lawyers, is they can keep their skills and careers relevant while still being the type of moms they want to be.”

But could the gig economy help with South Africa’s unemployment crisis? The unemployment rate of 26,7% in South Africa remained unchanged for the first quarter of 2018, according to Stats SA, while the previous quarter highlighted that women are less likely to participate in the labour market than men.

“Access to education, skills and the digital divide are areas which need to be overcome for all South African women to be able to participate in the economy and take advantage of the gig economy. Businesses too need to find ways to better access the resources available to them in the job market by embracing disruption and using technology,” says Van Locherenberg. “The gig economy is certainly a way in which to also supplement an income while you are looking for more permanent work.”

No matter the motivation for wanting to join the gig economy, there are some things to consider. Resources needed to do the job such as your car, phone and laptop, internet access and any programmes or software must be protected in the event of loss, theft or damage.

“Do not assume your homeowners insurance is going to provide the necessary cover for any business-related assets or activities. A business insurance policy will cover your specific needs and risk of exposure,” advises Van Locherenberg. “For example, personal vehicle insurance cover will not be enough should you choose to use your car as part of any ridesharing apps, you will need commercial liability insurance. This will also be necessary should a client come to your home and injure themselves while on your property. Check your needs with your insurance provider to make sure you have the right cover.”

What else should you consider?

  1. Tax returns

Yes, freelancers pay tax, just like everyone else, but this should not put you off wanting to enter the gig economy. There are a number of online resources and apps which can help you navigate your tax returns but it would be best to speak to an accredited tax practitioner. One of the most important things to remember is to save every single document to support the amount of tax you pay. Gig workers can also benefit from home office tax deductions.

  1. Budgeting correctly

A good rule of thumb to consider is the ‘three times multiple’. Take the salary you need to support your current income requirements and multiply that amount by three. Put one third towards your living expenses, the second third towards your business expenses while the last third should go towards your just in case fund. That money can be used for emergencies or when you want to learn a new skill.

  1. Repeat work

It is one thing to join the gig economy but another thing to make it sustainable. To ensure you get repeat work, you need to market yourself. Continue to develop new skills which will open up other doors. Also, try not to fall into the trap of cutting rates to be more competitive.

Three simple ways you can join the gig economy today:

  1. Hire out your baby items: With the first year of a child’s life costing a conservative R90 000, you will be helping other moms save on their baby budgets by renting out your baby items. Use social media platforms like Instagram or Mommy Groups on Facebook to find your customers.
  2. Rent your wedding dress: If you purchased your wedding dress, and it is still sitting in your cupboard, why not put it online and rent it out? There are a number of wedding blogs and platforms where you can advertise. Start with your dress, and then build your collection over time.
  3. Care giver: With the population aging and people living longer, care-giving is likely to become one of the most sought after skills of the future. It is also likely to be the last job in the world which will become fully automated. Also, as natural and maternal caregivers, women will be best place to take advantage of such work. Get ready for this job today by developing your elderly patient care skills.
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