From the outset a large number of Indians were employed in non-sugar growing activities. A small group was employed as domestic servants and they were remunerated at a higher rate than plantation workers.
The second largest agricultural activity was tea growing, which according to the Clayton Report of 1909 employed 1 722 indentured Indians. According to the same Report, wattle planting near Greytown employed 606 indentured Indians. Many farmers in the midlands of Natal employed indentured Indians. As these farmers owned cattle and sheep, Indians on these farms received, in addition, milk, meat and other farm produce as part of their rations.
In Durban, the Municipality employed a large number of Indians. As a result, the Durban Indian Municipal Employees' Association (DIMES) was one of the earliest unions to be established in 1935. DIMES is still in existence today. Indians were brought were brought out from Madras in 1861 as boatmen which transported passengers as well as goods from across the bay to the port docks.
By the turn of the century, the Natal Government Railways was probably the largest employer of Indians in the Colony, as unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers. In every phase of railway expansion, Indians played a vital role in the Colony of Natal.
By 1906, Indians comprised 44.24% of the workforce in the Natal coal mine industry. As a result of an increase in the number of coal miners, in December 1903 a Deputy Protector was re-appointed for Northern Natal. The high rate of death among Indians resulted in improved housing conditions with the implementation of the Mines Act of 1902.