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The Best Small Business Ideas In Kenya

Time to be your own boss

BY Mercy Kipchilat

Feb 16, 2023, 12:54 PM

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With the right idea, some capital and a bit of hard work, you can turn your dreams of becoming a successful business owner into reality in Kenya.

The biggest challenge when starting any business is usually finding enough capital to start. But did you know that there are profitable ventures that you can start with a capital of less than Ksh. 5000?

Here are some of the best small business ideas in Kenya that you can start this year.

Mitumba Business

Photo by Majira Media
The mitumba business is one of the best small business ideas in Kenya today. The business has become very popular in Kenya because of its small initial capital investment, and its high returns.

A bale of clothes goes for as little as 10,000. But you have the option of sourcing the clothes from other sellers and reselling them at a small margin. With this option, any amount will do.

Many mitumba businesses do well in the market, where you will only pay the county government a daily fee, which ranges from Ksh 30-50. However, you don't need a physical location to run your business. Many vendors walk around, especially in the evenings with their wares.

Before starting your business research the needs of your target market. Is there a need for children's clothes, official clothes, or second-hand shoes? 
Finally, look for a strategic location with lots of human traffic and your business will thrive. 

Car Wash

Photo by Valencia Gardens Nairobi
Providing car wash services is a lucrative small business idea that doesn’t have a lot of requirements to start.

The most important factor that will break or make your car wash business is the location. A good location would be near a busy road, a public area such as a shopping centre, or recreational facilities such as clubs or nyama choma joints. 

You will need a minimum starting capital of between Ksh. 50,000 and Ksh 100,000 depending on your location. 

The money should cover land leasing costs, a single business permit from the county government, a water tank, a vacuum cleaner, car washing equipment (petrol-powered), and detergents.

In addition to car washing services, you can also offer carpet cleaning services and night parking services to bring in more revenue.

Cereals Business

Photo by Highlands Cereals Grains Kenya
A cereals store is another small business idea in Kenya that does well and doesn’t need a lot of capital. With a starting capital of around Ksh 20,000, minus overhead costs like rent, you are good to go.

The first thing to do when starting a cereals store is to first identify an ideal location to start your business, preferably a residential area for middle and lower-income homesteads and look for an affordable room with good foot traffic.

Next, identify affordable suppliers for dried cereals like rice, beans, maize, and whatever cereals you plan on selling and buy your stock (if you can source directly for farmers, the better). Get your licence and start your business.

As your cereal store grows, you can increase your stock variety and also even sell a few household items like bread and sugar. 

Fruit Vending Business

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With a starting capital of as little as Ksh.5000, you can easily start a fruit vending business in Kenya and make a good profit.

Once you’ve gotten your business permit, you could start your business with a few readily available fresh fruits in the market, a few plastic chairs or wooden benches and utensils to serve your customers.

With time, you can expand your business and get plastic containers for takeaway customers and a blender for fresh juice.

Like with the other small business ideas, your fruit vending business will only do well if you nail the right location. Look for a busy spot, but also check out for a place with less competition.

M-Pesa Shop

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Although it seems like the market is already saturated with M-Pesa shops, operating an M-Pesa shop is still a lucrative business idea.

To operate an M-Pesa shop as an agent, you must have a registered limited company that has been operational for at least 6 months, with at least 3 outlets that are ready to offer M-Pesa services. You will also need Ksh.100,000 minimum float. 

You must provide Safaricom with business permits for each M-Pesa outlet, VAT and tax certificates, IDs, a banking license from a reputable financial institution, and police clearance certificates.

After that, you will fill in the M-Pesa agent head office application form and the M-Pesa agent store application form, after which you will get a till number and can start your business.

With time, you can also expand your business and become a banking agent for several local banks, including KCB, Equity, and Cooperative Bank.