Kenya’s unemployment rate is the highest in East Africa with World Bank data showing that 5.7% of Kenyan workers were jobless in 2021.
This was a 2.9% increase from 2013, when the Jubilee administration took over from the late President Mwai Kibaki.
With the tough economic times, Kenyans - as ingenious as they always are - have managed to come up with some money-making ventures that have helped them to stay afloat.
Some of these creative ways of making money in the 254 revolve around food, travel, beauty products and construction, either online or offline.
Here are a few ways how jobless Kenyans made their money in 2022. This list is in no particular order.
With the many financial challenges Kenyans are facing, many have also come up with an entertaining approach to address them. This is especially through comedy where established acts and newcomers in the scene are making a kill through skits as well as full-blown shows.
Some of these comedians have gone beyond the industry and expanded into mainstream media where they have slots in popular radio and TV shows.
Some have also managed to gain the trust and confidence of companies which are using them to advertise their products. 2022 has shown that Kenyans are truly enterprising and nothing can hold them back.
Some of the acts that have done well in this industry include Crazy Kennar, Mammito, Flaqo, Cartoon Comedian and Jacky Vike among others.
There are many others who do not have as massive followings as the likes of Kennah who have built niche audiences they are able to monetise and make money in an economy characterised by layoffs and profit warnings.
The “comedy” content creation genre has grown massively from the dominance of comedy shows on TV with the internet literally tearing down the wall that blocked entry for you, unproven talent.
With the lockdown in 2020 and the consequent working from home for the years after, demand for infotainment skyrocketed. The demand for information ranging from home décor to cooking and general news saw several blogs pop up.
The blogs came at a time when newspaper readership and mainstream TV and radio news programmes ratings continued plummeting for several years in a row. Bloggers who were in time for the shift have made a harvest from their writing.
While the first stages of blogging demand a lot of work, once the content is written, one may start earning money in Kenya through passive means since the content on the blog continues earning even when nothing is being done on the site.
After losing their jobs, some journalists in Kenya took this route, and they are now not only earning a reputation for themselves but also profiting from the endeavour.
This has come in many formats.
Some Kenyans have benefitted writing online for different platforms, coding, web development and other opportunities in many other fields.
The internet has made this possible and this year, Kenyans have been able to survive by jumping onto opportunities that have been made available online.
The truth about freelancing is that as long as you have a skill that you have perfected, then you earn money from various online platforms where you sell the skill.
If you have had or heard of ‘smocha’, then you know that Kenyans will stop at nothing to make a Shilling. The Kenyan wrap is now popular beyond college and university campuses.
With the hard economic times that have befallen us, the food and beverage sector has seen innovations that are not only addressing hunger but also lining their pockets as well.
Most people in Kenya’s urban areas eat out a number of times in a week, be it the mandazi for breakfast and chapati, rice or other starches with various stews for lunch in the office which makes food sales an excellent business.
To grow their businesses and reach, those in the industry have coupled their food business with delivery services or online sales via social media platforms. Some have turned up a tidy sum from these food ventures.
With Kenya’s middle class expanding, despite the financial challenges, those who saw the opportunity in this group of Kenyans started car wash businesses.
Depending on location and the quality of service, those who got it right have even expanded their businesses as the demand for their services increased.
The most successful car wash businesses are not limited to just spring cleaning the car but also offering other services like car detailing because there are customers willing to spend their money to make their cars look and feel good.
Car washes are commonplace in towns and neighbourhoods, and starting one has been financially rewarding for the strategic investor.
Back-breaking chores that most people can’t do for various reasons- including health, has seen the demand for mama fua increase to the point of establishing agencies which supply labour for the house chores including laundry, cooking etc.
Laundry services in Kenya have evolved from a client having to drop their dirty clothes in a shop to the establishments picking up the dirty laundry and then bringing it back.
The sector is turning a pretty dime for the early investors.
To supplement incomes or to just find a way of surviving, some Kenyans who have experienced a loss of financial balance due to the pandemic turned to baking.
Many in the industry started baking and cake-making on a budget but have grown their businesses through online social platforms coupled with delivery services.
This approach has helped generate revenues for bakeries because they have a wider client base than physical shops that require rent and other overheads.
The internet has created several opportunities for beauticians with cosmetics businesses taking advantage of this to grow their market share.
From selling cosmetics like nail polish to skin and hair care products, there are millionaires who have been minted in 2022 for leveraging all the opportunities offered by social media and the availability of their products and services.
In addition, it is a common sight in urban areas now to see people advertising their services outside their establishments on the streets by having teams coordinate to win over customers for services like manicures and pedicures and other cosmetic procedures.
With the number of motorcycles on Kenyan roads, the demand for spare parts has increased and being a large market, there are many people who have made good money from the sector.
Those with the expertise and abilities to repair motorcycles have also benefited from the sector that earns Kenya at least a billion shillings in revenues daily, according to a report by Car and General. With this kind of revenues, there has to be a sizable chunk for those in the value chain.
Those who benefit the most are those providing motorcycle spare like tyres, batteries, brake pads and items like engine oil.
Chances are that you or someone you know has a boda guy who delivers stuff for them.
With the increasing demand for delivery services, especially after the 2020 lockdown, delivery services have grown in leaps and bounds.
From individual delivery guys to companies setting up shop, there has been a growth in the sector which has created employment for thousands of Kenyans who would otherwise have been jobless.
This is one of the sectors that Kenyans have come to accept and mainstream especially in the food and beverages industry, parcels and general courier services.
With the crowded towns which can make movements hectic especially if one has luggage, Kenyans came up with the idea of renting shelf space where customers could leave their luggage for certain periods as they ran errands in the towns.
As it is, the venture has been good to some, especially those located in high traffic areas where many shops are located like in Nyamakima, “Tea Room”, Gikomba and Kamukunji among other areas.
The trend could have been inspired by supermarkets where smart people could leave their luggage and run errands before the establishments became strict with time spent in their shops.
Since not everyone could afford or prefer to have an office they pay for every month while they may be there for just a few days, virtual offices have become a hit.
Those with the space have been making good money leasing the offices to companies or individuals who then sublet them to people who could use them at their convenience. There are several such establishments in the main urban areas in Kenya.
The internet, once again, has been a hit with people who would want to maintain their fitness from the comfort of their homes.
Trainers have jumped on this opportunity and offered virtual fitness classes and training to their clientele making a handsome profit.
Due to the flexibility of these classes, the trainers may not necessarily have to pay rents for separate gyms and they could do it from their homes which saves them some expenses.
With the need to remain fit comes the demand for accessories that are used in fitness regimens.
The suppliers have managed to leverage the advantages of the internet to sell their merchandise which, in turn, has turned out to be a good business move for those in the sector.
The internet remains the biggest job creation opportunity for Kenyans and this has seen people start and thrive their home decor and improvement business.
With the accessibility of designs and material sourcing online, this sector has also created wealthy Kenyans in 2022.
As we can see from this article, there are opportunities in every hardship or challenge and Kenyans have taken advantage to make their lives better from these challenges.
Looking into the future, the enterprising spirit of Kenyans shows that no opportunity will be lost when it presents itself.
Mapema ndio best, sio?