They’ve been labelled ‘ebay for the snapchat generation’ but do digital platforms enabling the sale of second-hand clothes offer a new route into formal work for young people?

Platforms like Depop and Vinted in the UK and Jumia and, widely used in Africa, offer an increasingly important way for young people to engage in entrepreneurship.  However, at a time that youth unemployment seems set to increase, little is known about how they may be used to develop a sustainable and formal source of income.

This Innovation Fund project will examine the opportunities, barriers and quality of digital entrepreneurship, comparing the experiences of young sellers of second-hand clothes and platform providers in the UK, Nigeria and South Africa.

It will take a multi-methods approach, drawing on:

  • digital ethnographies with sellers in four countries
  • business intelligence mapping comparing the growth of these four companies
  • expert interviews with companies and charities supplying clothing, and market traders in Africa.

The project will generate new knowledge about the experience, motivation and approach of young people to digital platform work in a key sector in three countries, contributing to Digit’s research into the experience of the connected worker.

Research questions

  • How do digital second-hand clothing platforms enable young people’s employment and entrepreneurship in the digital economy?
  • How have these platforms created formal income streams for young people and what is the quality of this type of work?


Principal Investigator: Dr Ayomikun Idowu (University of Sussex)

Co-investigators: Akustina Morni (International Organisation of Employers)

Research Assistant: Monica Richards (University of Sussex)