Entrepreneurship is a major element of the Kenyan spirit. Indeed, a drive across the republic reveals a capitalist economy filled with hawkers, jua kali artisans, fish mongers, thriving open-air markets, matatu operators, plot-for-sale signs, factories, commercial tracts of lands, and many pointers of a market economy.
Most Kenyan businesses are small and medium enterprises requiring relatively little capital to establish. Indeed, with as little as Ksh10,000, numerous profitable businesses are available for entrepreneurs. Money254 researched such enterprises and came up with a list of 10 lucrative businesses that require Ksh10,000 capital or less.
Second-hand clothes are popular in Kenya - with at least two million Kenyans working directly and indirectly in the sector. One of the unique characteristics of the mitumba business is that there are low-entrance barriers - at least for the small traders who sell these products after they have been shipped to Kenya.
There is a unique market of middle-class Kenyans who prefer second-hand clothes because they can afford high-quality - and sometimes luxury brands - for a bargain.
However, these consumers are unwilling to make the early morning tour to Gikomba and search for these high-quality clothing products that traders scramble for every morning when the bales are brought to the market - mostly between 4am and 6.30 in the morning.
The business model is rather simple. You only need to wake up early and have an eye for the high-end mitumba clothes - nicknamed camera clothes. With Ksh8,000 - you can get a sizeable stock of baby clothes, lady clothes, T-shirts, and shirts. Men's clothes, with the exception of shirts, tend to be expensive and could leave you with limited stock if you have Ksh10,000 as your starting capital.
However, dresses go for as little as Ksh100, lady tops and unisex t-shirts go for as little as Ksh50, baby clothes go for about Ksh200 - while men's shirts go for between Ksh100-300.
Once you have bought your stock, all you need is a smartphone with a decent camera, have the clothes washed and ironed - then take quality photos of your fortune. You can use family and friends as models to demonstrate the beauty of your gems.
You then set up a page on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Tiktok, and start selling your merchandise. Quality men's shirts go for about Ksh700 in the camera business, t-shirts go for about Ksh350, lady tops at Ksh200, and baby clothes at Ksh500.
Nearly all the products have a 100% markup, which means if you sell well - the first stock should bring in a minimum of Ksh16,000.
To speed up your sales, consider using Ksh2,000 of your initial capital on online marketing on e-commerce websites and on Facebook and Instagram, which charge as low as Ksh200 per day. You can also consider using micro-influencers depending on the flexibility of your budget.
Domestic tourism has become a major part of Kenyan culture. Amid the growing market, there are numerous business opportunities for travel and tour operators.
Most companies in this industry work with hotels and airlines to organise tours in major tourism centres such as the Kenyan coast, the Aberdares, Mt Kenya, and Naivasha, among others.
However, Kenya is filled with numerous picturesque and excursion sites that have yet to gain prominence as mainstream tourist destinations. To penetrate this market, you only need great research skills in some of these areas and a smartphone camera with a great camera.
You can then identify fun travel activities or destinations and develop a package - you may require a budget for transport to identify if the place is suitable for a commercial travel group. Some areas are picturesque but are hostile to tourists or guests may be required to pay the local community some guide fees.
Generally, tours and travel businesses have low-entrance barriers - only requiring great research, an eye for great destinations, and marketing and advertising capital - which have been made easier by the internet.
Once you have a competitive advantage, all you need is to market, and since clients pay upfront, you can then use that money to pay for the trip costs, including transport, guide fees, and meals. The Ksh10,000 can go a long way in doing some marketing on social media in the form of paid ads, graphics, or some basic website that gives you some online presence.
Agriculture has long been referred to as the backbone of the Kenyan economy. However, it also has some of the unhappiest stakeholders - primarily because of the gaps between the suppliers and the consumers.
At one time, I travelled to Kinangop, and farmers were loudly complaining that the price of cabbage had fallen to a mere Ksh4 per piece. Some of the farmers had opted not to sell their cabbage and instead feed it to their cows - and it's not like the prices of milk were any better.
When I returned to my apartment in Roysambu, I was shocked to find the price was cabbage was Ksh40 per piece.
The city dwellers were unhappy with the cabbage prices - all blaming dishonest brokers for the high and low prices. There is a great opportunity for a broker who will be fairer to the two parties.
You could partner with farmers and have them organise their produce in one central point and purchase at a higher cost to reduce the high cost of transport - mainly caused by poor roads. For example, the cabbages in our example could be delivered at the nearby highway and buy them at Ksh10 - and in turn, sell them for Ksh25 in the city.
In the cabbages example, with Ksh10,000, you would have 1000 cabbages and partner with a transporter where you split the profits after delivering them in the city. The total profits would be Ksh15,000 per trip - which, when split both ways with the transport provider - is still a decent profit for a day’s work.
More Kenyans are turning to massage therapy to improve their mental and physical health. Spas are coming up in most residential areas, but numerous clients and families do not have the time to visit the spa. There is a niche for home-based massage services - which would basically allow you to run a spa without the high cost of physically setting up one.
You could either learn or train as a masseuse and provide the services yourself. You could also partner with a trained masseuse, use the Ksh10,000 on marketing and advertising - a Facebook/Instagram/Tiktok page, use influencers, buy branded uniforms, and invest in the massage kits. With the right strategy, you could squeeze a basic webpage within the Ksh10,000 budget and start receiving clients!
Unlike the other business ideas discussed in this article, tree farming is mainly a long-term and passive income opportunity. The world is increasingly focusing on the climate change crisis - which the current government has also indicated it would prioritise.
The value of trees, in the coming years, is likely to be two-fold. The first one is that the demand for trees is rising, and the prices of trees will increase in the coming years. Secondly, there is potential in the carbon-emissions trade.
As the pressure on companies to reduce carbon emissions rises - Kenya has considered introducing a carbon credit system. The previous regime had indicated that in the coming years, companies would have specific credits - allowing them to emit emissions up to a certain point and, if exhausted - buy from tree farmers.
The hustle of modern-day working pressure is that more people do not have the time to prepare meals at home due to time constraints and the fatigue that follows.
There are some Kenyans who are not able to afford a house help to help with cooking chores and they still do not wish to spend on hotel meals which are more often expensive options.
This business idea can be operated by an individual or an entrepreneur with the help of staff who are passionate about cooking. You then brand and market the business to attract clients who will have an appointment where a chef will visit their home on a specific day, make multiple meals and store them in a fridge/freezer - for a fee.
Kenyans have increasingly returned to the physical working system after the global pandemic. However, many workers often work in office blocks or stations with limited options for buying meals. If you happen to know a few office blocks with such challenges - here could be a business idea.
You print out cards announcing your services - say delivery of breakfast/lunch and the respective menu. You then prepare the meals from home and have them delivered to the clients who will have ordered at a certain agreed time - say a few hours before.
Duplicate the business in multiple locations, and you could have the making of an empire before 2023 ends!
Mama fuas are some of the most popular service providers in Kenyan estate - especially among bachelors. The trouble with them is that most have difficulty duplicating their business model - due to limited business management skills.
If you can spot the thorough mama fuas, brand them and have them managed through a website or social media page - there would be great business sense.
You would then be able to upscale the model to more people - while you focus on maintaining the standards and marketing for more business. Ksh10,000 would be more than enough for such a business.
According to the UN-Habitat, Kenya has a housing demand of Ksh250,000 units yearly - but only 50,000 units are produced annually. One of the most difficult assignments for non-homeowners is house hunting.
From experience, it is very difficult to have a match between your budget, house size, location, amenities, and securities, among other considerations.
Something has to give - and unfortunately, the decision is made after many hours spent viewing houses - some that are far apart and in dusty estates.
Imagine if all these tasks could be done at the click of a button on YouTube or social media. Well, you could make money by enabling future tenants with their searches - especially in the cities where there is increasingly less spare time for these tasks.
All you need is a smartphone with a decent camera or, if you already have one - a professional camera. You can either teach yourself basic video-editing skills through free courses on Youtube - or hire a freelancer to edit for you.
You would then research and tour the available rental units - video record them, and offer anyone interested in renting to get in touch with you.
You can then charge a small commission - from both the tenant, who has a lot of time saved through your information - and the landlord, who benefits from an easier system of accessing tenants.
Ksh10,000 is enough to buy you a second-hand vacuum cleaner and start your small business cleaning sofas, cars, and other furniture at a decent fee. Vacuum cleaning is often necessary for most households - particularly families with young kids.
However, very few people are willing to invest in a vacuum cleaner that they will probably use three or four times a year. The idea is to buy a vacuum cleaner, invest in marketing the service in the estates, and have a specific day dedicated to a certain estate to aid logistics.
The vacuum cleaning business would also serve commercial and residential apartments - such as Airbnb, where cleanliness is highly valued.