It is a well-documented fact that we are living for far longer than we used to. Yet for many retirees, particularly in South Africa, this is not necessarily the best news – simply because there isn’t enough money in the retirement pot. On the other hand, there is a growing body of thought that in today’s hyper-connected, digital world, retirement needn’t cap your ability to earn a salary. It may not be the salary you were pulling in at the zenith of your career, but it can be a salary nonetheless. That was the view of Darren Gorton from BoardX and Annette Muller, founder of Flexy Skills. They were speaking at the Liberty-sponsored 2017 Retire Well Masterclass at Summer Place last week.
Connecting experience with enthusiasm
For many retirees, the prospect of being cut off from earning an income is an interesting (and often daunting) challenge – and in years gone by, retirees have simply made the best of the savings they have. Today, however, with the rise of freelancing and the emergence of start-ups hungry for experienced board members, there are many opportunities in the market for retirees who choose to look for them.
“South Africa’s economic sustainability is highly dependent on the success of SMEs, yet we see staggeringly high failure rates for young businesses, with the most oft cited reasons for that being lack of access to capital and lack of skills,” explains Gorton of BoardX. “We believe that by connecting retirees who have board and management experience with SMEs and start-ups, we can address part of the skills problem while also providing income-earning opportunities for retired professionals.”
In many cases, local SMEs and start-ups are founded upon highly innovative and relevant concepts that certainly address market needs. The continual stumbling block, however, is the business of running a business, and the strategic know-how to generate income while building a sustainable enterprise. For retirees with management experience, this presents a major opportunity to contribute to the country’s growth – while supplementing their retirement stash.
“South Africa has so many success stories and so many savvy, experienced and enthusiastic people who have much to give,” adds Gorton. “By helping to match those people to the businesses that need them, we can develop a partnership that increases the success rates of those businesses while creating rewarding work for professionals and retirees.”
Tapping into the gig economy
Armed with connectivity and slick digital platforms, more and more workers are opting for freelance or contract work over the traditional 9 to 5 role. Labelled the ‘gig economy’, the shift to freelance work is creating a massive online marketplace for whoever wishes to auction off or sell their skills. While local statistics are hard to find, we can still look abroad to see where the trend is headed… and the numbers are impressive: in the United States, the gig economy is now estimated to be about 34% of the workforce, and is expected to be 43% by the year 2020. For South African retirees, this emerging economy presents a myriad of opportunities to earn an income from the comfort of home.
“The on-demand or gig economy is really nothing new, but the emergence of technology tools and digital marketplaces is really transforming the way we work,” explains Annette Muller of Flexy, a South African digital platform that facilitates on-demand working for individuals and companies. “It’s a global phenomenon, with over one trillion dollars being spent on freelancers annually. This is undoubtedly a great way for retirees to continue to work, and to continue to participate in both the local and global working community.”
There are various ways to get involved – retirees can either tap into their existing networks and establish a new type of remote working relationship, or they can delve into the many online talent platforms, such as Flexy, that are becoming available. Globally, one of the largest is Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk), which connects freelancers with assignments in areas such as software programming, graphic design, marketing and mobile development. According to HuffPost, the site connects ‘some 3.6 million client businesses with more than nine million freelancers from 180 countries.’
As the global gig economy grows, Muller says that the people who learn to leverage emerging technology – such as online learning, fintech payment solutions and remote working tools – will profit from this new way of working. For retirees on the hunt for opportunity, the possibilities may soon be endless.
Brought to you by Liberty.