New Survey of South African Gig Workers Reveals Significant Financial and Lifestyle Impacts Since The COVID-19 Pandemic Began

Johannesburg, South AfricaJuly 29, 2020— Flourish Ventures, a global fintech investor helping people achieve financial wellbeing, today published the South African edition of The Digital Hustle: Gig Worker Financial Lives Under Pressure. The report tracks the experiences of more than 600 gig workers, including those who use digital platforms such as e-hailing or delivery apps, to learn more about how they are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic and understand their concerns and aspirations for the future.

Key Findings

  • 79% of gig workers now earn less than R 4000 ($240 USD) per month, compared to 16% before the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • 91% are very concerned about COVID-19. Respondents’ biggest concerns are how the pandemic will affect their ability to earn an income and the risk to their family’s health.
  • While e-hailing drivers were impacted most, even delivery workers were badly hit. 82% of e-hailing drivers and 57% of delivery workers suffered a large decreased in income.
  • Most have made sacrifices to cope with the pandemic and accompanying economic dislocation. Some have a financial cushion, but a majority live on the edge. If they lost their main source of income, 58% of respondents reported they could not cover household expenses for a month without borrowing. In addition, 51% of gig workers have already reduced their household expenses, 47% borrowed money, and 71% had to rely on savings. Yet, only 23% are seeking additional income – a low figure possibly driven by the strictly enforced COVID-19 lockdown.

“Digital platforms have made it possible for workers around the world to participate in the gig economy, providing a degree of formality and stability to their work,” said Arjuna Costa, managing partner at Flourish. “When the coronavirus outbreak caused the global economy to come to a halt in Q1 of this year, workers were severely impacted. By tracking gig worker experiences in South Africa, and elsewhere, we hope to open conversations about how fintech companies can build lasting solutions for this vulnerable segment of the population.”

As part of the survey questionnaire, gig workers were asked to share anonymous comments to describe how they are faring in the current conditions.  Here are two examples:

  • “People are not buying as they used to,” said a delivery driver. “The number of deliveries has dramatically dropped. It is a big challenge now.”
  • We are eating only two meals a day. That is what we can afford now,” said an e-hailing driver.

Future Plans

In the next 6 months, nearly all respondents plan to restart or continue the work they were doing before the lockdown. The majority are very concerned about the ability to earn a sustainable income. For 80% of respondents, health risk associated with returning to work was not a top concern.

Despite recent hardships, over time, Flourish expects continued growth in financial tools to support gig workers. In addition to these findings on immediate COVID-19 impact on financial lives, the South African edition of The Digital Hustle: Gig Worker Financial Lives Under Pressure provides early insights into how platforms and financial services providers can best serve this emerging digital workforce.

Survey Methodology
Flourish partnered with research firm 60 Decibels and gig worker startups FlexClub and Picup to conduct the online survey of 605 gig workers from June 21-28, 2020. Of these respondents, 425 were e-hailing drivers and 180 were delivery workers. To view the full report and access the underlying data, visit:

As part of The Digital Hustle: Gig Worker Financial Lives Under Pressure, Flourish began tracking the experiences of gig workers across the globe in May 2020. The firm released the Brazil edition last June and is currently fielding surveys in India, Indonesia, and the U.S. With each of its country-specific studies, Flourish aims to better understand the financial impact of COVID-19 on gig workers, and help fintech entrepreneurs better serve and connect with the people most in need of aid and better understand their needs.

About Flourish Ventures

Flourish Ventures is a global venture firm investing in entrepreneurs whose innovations advance financial health and prosperity for individuals and small businesses. Our global portfolio includes more than 60 companies such as Steady and Neon for gig workers, Pula and Apollo Agriculture for smallholder farmers, and several challenger banks including Chime. We partner with industry thought leaders in research, policy and regulation to better understand the underserved and help foster a fair, more inclusive economy. Visit us at or join our community through Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

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