Youth unemployment in Kenya is estimated to be at 35%. The statistics are worrying, with over 800,000 young people entering the job market annually. Still, it’s better to think outside the box. There are numerous profitable small businesses to start with Kshs. 10,000 and turn a good profit.
The 8 to 5 job option seems the best, but it’s not the only way. It’s only possible for 1 or 2 young people to get employment. So what happens to the rest? Do you simply give up on life? No. You think of another way to earn a good living.
With as little as Kshs. 1,000 to Kshs. 10,000, you can start a business. Pick an area you are good at and run with it. Check what is in demand in your local domain and fill in the gap because we cannot all set up mega malls.
Profitable Small Businesses to Start with 10k or Less
|Small Businesses||Requirements||Amount of Capital||Need a License?|
|Chapati & Maandazi||Ingredients
|Smokies & Boiled eggs||Trolley
|Selling Water||Mkokoteni or Bicycle
|Kshs. 500-kshs. 5000||Varies|
|Rearing Kienyeji Chicken||Chicken coop/house
|Kshs. 5000 and above||No|
|Selling vegetables||Kibanda or mkokoteni
|Kshs. 5000 and above||Yes|
|Selling Fruits||Kibanda or mkokoteni
|Kshs. 5000 and above||Yes|
|Selling Candies & Biscuits||Stock||Kshs. 2500||Yes|
|Selling Soft Drinks||Stock||Kshs. 2500 and above||Yes|
|Selling Assorted Wears||Stock||Kshs. 5000 and above||Yes|
|Airtime Distribution||Stock||Kshs. 10000||Yes|
1. Chapati and Maandazi
Chapati and mandazi are one of the favorite delicacies for Kenyans. Most household tables have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Long ago, chapatis were for special occasions but not anymore. Many young people have started cooking chapatis for sale in their neighborhoods.
To start this type of business, you don’t need a lot. Find an area near your residence that has high foot traffic. It can be the local market or centre. Purchase the following:
- jiko at Kshs. 250
- charcoal at Kshs. 50 per tin
- table at Kshs. 1500
- buckets for storing dough and cooked chapati/mandazi at Ksh. 150 each
- rolling pin at Kshs. 50.
- Also, you’ll need wheat flour at Kshs. 120 per 2kg pack, baking powder at Kshs. 30, and cooking oil at Ksh. 120 per liter. With Kshs. 5,000, you are ready to go.
Pick a clean spot and set up in the evening and early morning when many people seek these products. If you make small sizes, you can sell chapati at Kshs. 10 or Kshs. 20 for larger quantities. Mandazi mostly goes for Kshs. 5 each.
Another side of this business is cooking on a specific order. Advertise yourself to potential clients so that they can place orders and you deliver. During events, many people in urban areas prefer sourcing an outside caterer instead of cooking.
Remember, when you opt to cook at the local centre, you need an official license from the local authorities. Prices vary from Ksh. 2000 to 5000 annually. Get one to avoid any problems with county askaris due to illegal operations. Some opt to operate without it, but it’s better for your business if you get the permit.
2. Smokies and Boiled Eggs
In every town, you will see young people pushing trolleys or carrying hotpots and buckets with boiled eggs and smokies. It’s another profitable small business idea that requires less than Kshs. 10,000 to start.
Once you settle on it, get a hotpot for smokies or a bucket for boiled eggs. If you have enough capital, go for the trolley to sell both simultaneously. Starting with a bucket or hotpot can also get you the cart later on.
You should purchase the following:
- a transparent bucket/hotpot Kshs 150-300
- smokies or eggs at wholesale price Kshs 250-300
- an extra tin with a lid for salad Kshs. 50
- tomato sauce Kshs. 50, chili sauce Kshs 50, salt Kshs. 10, salt shaker Kshs. 30.
- For eggs, you need a spoon for peeling and smokies, a knife, and a spoon.
- Get tomatoes at Kshs. 5 each and onions at Kshs. 5 each for the salad (kachumbari).
The local authorities require small businesses to get a hawking permit that they pay weekly or monthly. With as little as Kshs. 2,000, you can set up the business. A trolley can cost upwards of Kshs. 5,000.
3. Selling Water
You can sell water in two ways. One, purchase bottled water wholesale and sell it to travelers at the local bus stop. The cheapest quantity goes for Kshs. 10-15 for a small bottle. You can then sell it for Kshs. 20-30 turning a good profit.
Another way to sell water is by buying at a water kiosk and selling in homes and small businesses. Most shops in Kenyan towns don’t have access to running water. They rely on people that deliver water door to door. You can fill a 20-litre mtungi for Kshs. 10 and sell from Kshs. 20 and above.
The same applies to many neighborhoods that suffer from frequent water shortages. You can use a bicycle or a cart (mkokoteni) to ferry the water around. When setting the price, factor in the energy it takes to carry the water, and the distance traveled.
- 5 to 10 20-liter mitungi (water cans) at Kshs. 150 each
- mkokoteni at Kshs. 5000 or bicycle at Kshs. 5000.
As you start, you can opt for a second-hand mkokoteni or a bicycle at lower prices.
4. Rearing Kienyeji Chicken
Kienyeji chicken and eggs are a favorite for many people. Unlike layers and broilers, they don’t need specialized feed and can be left to scavenge.
You can keep them in your rural home or on the rooftop of your building. If you live in a rental area, consult the landlord, or look for another place to rear them.
All it takes is purchasing one Kienyeji rooster ‘jogoo’ at Kshs. 1500 and three hens at Kshs. 500 each. Start small and grow your flock. Provide each brooding hen with fertilized eggs and see them multiply. For better birds, supplement them with some feed even as they scavenge.
You can purchase some maize germ at Kshs. 50 per Kg and fishmeal at Kshs. 50 per Kg. It’s one of the most practical small businesses you can start with less than Kshs. 10,000. Ensure they have proper housing and get regular checkups for diseases.
One option you have is to sell Kienyeji eggs. A tray retails at Kshs. 450 minimum. Another option is to sell chicks at Kshs. 100 for day old. For grown roosters, sell from Kshs. 1,000 depending on weight. The same applies to hens that sell from Kshs. 500 and above.
5. Selling Vegetables
Vegetables are a necessity in every home. Start a local stall kibanda in your neighborhood. Have tomatoes, leafy greens, carrots, onion, potatoes, and fresh spices. Head to the central market and check out the price for wholesale vegetables. You must get there early enough when the freshest produce comes in.
Once you pick a spot, construct a small wooden stall. Display your vegetables and start selling. The stock can cost you Kshs. 1,500 to 2,000 as you start.
Have an option for home delivery. You can get customer contacts. Once they place an order, you deliver to their homes. The stall differs in price depending on the availability of materials. Remember to get the proper license for operating the business from local authorities.
6. Selling Fruits
Fruit vending works similarly to vegetables, but you can sell both on the same stall. Still, they seem more attractive to customers when displayed on their own. Set up a sturdy booth in a populated area. Get the proper operating permit to avoid the wrath of council askaris.
The best place to buy fruits wholesale is at the local market. Another way to sell fruits is by packaging a small amount and hawking them. You can choose to sell oranges, mangoes, bananas, avocados, or watermelons. Pick one or two fruits and hawk them at your busy local centre or a bus terminus in town.
Have a delivery system in place. Ensure all your customers know you can deliver fruits to them at home or the workplace. You can sell pieces of fruit for Kshs 10 or bunches for Kshs. 50. If you opt to set up a stall, you need to build a stall at Kshs. 2,500 and above. A license is Kshs. 5,000 annually.
For hawking, fruit stock is cheap at Kshs. 100 and above while the license is Kshs. 250 per week.
7. Selling Candies and Biscuits
Local bus stops have heavy foot traffic as people travel from one town to another. Get a small container, buy assorted sweets and biscuits, and start hawking them. Get the necessary license from the authorities. You can pay weekly or monthly. Weekly permits cost Kshs. 250.
An assortment of sweets and biscuits can cost Kshs. 2,000 at wholesale prices. It’s one of the simplest small businesses to start.
8. Selling Soft Drinks (Sodas and Juices)
Purchase sodas and juices at wholesale prices and sell them at retail prices. In most depots, you get a 300ml soda going for Kshs. 25. You can sell it at Kshs. 40 and above. Set up a spot at the local bus stop.
As for juices, you can opt to move them around. Get a box or bucket and arrange them neatly. There are many brands of ready-to-drink juices in the market. At the wholesale price, get them at Kshs. 15 and above, then sell at a retail price. Wholesale prices vary depending on brand and quantity.
9. Selling Assorted Wears
One way to establish a small business is by hawking assorted wear. You’ve probably come across someone selling sunglasses, watches, earphones, memory cards, and flash disks. Such a wide variety makes it possible to turn a good profit.
Purchase the items at wholesale prices and sell at retail prices. You need about Kshs. 5,000 and above to start. Remember, a hawking permit goes for Kshs. 250 weekly in most urban areas.
10. Airtime Distribution
Scratch cards are one of the main ways to purchase airtime in Kenya. Become a distributor to the shops in your area. You must buy from licensed dealers and then deliver to retail shops.
An airtime distribution business doesn’t require a lot of capital to start. You must get the right licensing from the direct companies. Purchase bulk airtime of Kshs. 10,000 and start distributing.
With as little as Kshs. 1,000 to Kshs. 10,000, you can start a profitable small business in Kenya. Work on reducing your expenses to maximize the returns. Think outside the box to expand your market reach. For example, have your chapati cooking spot and also cook on order.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which is the best business to start in Kenya?
The most profitable businesses in Kenya are those that have a good competitive edge over their rivals. Each business is very different and has a unique characteristic that helps it thrive.
A successful business in Kenya will usually offer a menu of services, including pricing, service, quality control, product, or market insight. When choosing a business, you should consider these factors and the competitive edge you offer.