Work At Home

A quick search on Google will bring up hundreds of work from home opportunities based in South Africa. Unfortunately most of them are scams. While working from home is a dream for many, making that dream come true is not nearly as simple in practice as it might at first appear in theory. With a bit of caution, however, a person with the right skills and determination has a good chance of succeeding as a legitimate home worker.

Which Jobs are Legal?

Working at home

The Department of Trade and Industry regulated the types of jobs which could be worked from home in 2007 after numerous complaints about work from home scams. They determined that the following roles were illegal as they promoted unfair business practice; typing work, addressing envelopes and labels, filling envelopes, administrative work, data compiling and selling of non-advertised consumer goods. Roles of this nature were prohibited from appearing in job advertisements – a ruling which is, however, largely ignored.

Legitimate jobs include typing work requested directly by a document owner, such a student wanting an assignment to be typed up, the selling of genuine goods via catalogues or demonstrations or the selling of person to person multilevel marketing and network marketing. All sales people need to be able to identify themselves, the firm they work for and can only sell products for which there is an advertisement.

How Do You Recognise Illegal Jobs and Scams?

Upfront fee – any employer asking for a fee for a 'training package' or equipment required to complete the job is definitely not genuine.

Data entry – the majority of data entry jobs are fake. It's possible to find some that are not, but this is certainly a warning sign.

Personal email address as the contact – if the prospective employer has a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account instead of an email address containing the name of their company then it is almost certainly a scam. Legitimate business people don't use their personal email addresses to recruit new staff.

Too good to be true – if the offer seems too good to be true then it likely is. You are very unlikely to get rich working from home, and no genuine employer is going offer R25,000 per month for administrative or typing work.

Research the background – check the official company website, Google the company name to see if it appears to be a reputable firm, and whether search results come up associating it with a scam.

Real Work from Home Opportunities

Essentially, most work from home jobs are opportunities that you create yourself. It helps to have a marketable skill such as photography, being able to play a musical instrument, speak a foreign language or a certification in bookkeeping. The next step is to advertise it locally or in classifieds such as Gumtree, or look for ads requiring that service.

Another way to find small jobs is to visit crowd-sourcing and freelancing websites, which are becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon. People who need small pieces of work to be completed post them up on sites such as Freelance Central and offer a small fee. Users looking for work can bid for the jobs, and if their bid is accepted they then complete the assignment and receive the payment.

Other examples of this are Work At Home SOS, Freelancer, eLance and Guru. One crowdsourcing sites such Clickworker or Vivatic users sign up to complete small jobs such as verifying addresses or search results.

Below is a list of specific roles that can be completed from home.

IT Skills: Programming and Web Development.

Companies are constantly requiring programs to be written or websites to be developed and maintained, so anyone with experience in this industry will have a chance of finding work online. ScriptLance and GetACoder are freelance websites that specialise in programming.


Whether it's for translation or teaching, being fluent in a foreign language is an extremely useful asset. Translation jobs can be found online at Translator's Town and Languages Unlimited will hire freelance translators.

Online Tutor

Websites First Tutors, TeachMe2, My Own Tutor and Educate SA all offer private tuition in subjects such as English, Maths, science, accounting or IT skills.


The ever-expanding internet constantly requires articles, blogs or product reviews. While a copywriting certificate helps, you can still find writing work without it. Freelance Central, Freelancer eLance, Guru, Clickworker and Vivatic all offer jobs of this kind.

Design is a well known site where big brands post briefs, the user base respond with ideas and the winning idea receives a prize. Springleap is a South African based site crowd-sourcing graphics and design.

Delivering and Selling Products from Catalogues

Everyone has heard of Avon ladies, but this is just one of a number of companies that deliver catalogues door to door and take product orders. Justine is another example.

Online Surveys

Filling out surveys will never earn you large amounts of money, but it can supplement your earnings with a bit of extra pocket money. Some websites will offer gifts and vouchers as rewards instead. Not all survey sites are genuine, however, so it is a good idea to go through the same checklist as for work at home job scams – do they offer surprisingly high rewards, do you need to pay a fee to sign up and does a Google search reveal anything untoward?

Start your Own Business

Entrepreneurs with a business idea can post it up on crowd-funding websites such as StartMe. Unlike Kickstarter, project developers on StartMe will receive any money donated to them, whether they reach the goal or not.

Know What to Expect

The most important thing about working from home is having realistic expectations and a healthy dose of scepticism. Most people aren't going to earn a high salary working from home unless they have an extremely marketable skill. However, it is certainly possible to earn a respectable income by evaluating your list of skills, abilities and qualifications, and looking for genuine opportunities which can make use of them.