College should be a breeding ground for startups. According to the Young Entrepreneurship Council, nearly 90% of young people believe that entrepreneurship is important.
When you are a college student, you mostly have a lot of free time on your sleeves and there is probably no better way to spend that time than to be a student entrepreneur. Starting your business in college can be a great way to make money and even fend for yourself.
In the past decade, the potency of college-born business ideas has been witnessed in Kenya and beyond. Some of the examples of brilliant ideas that were birthed by Kenyan University students and later got commercialized include:
With a continent-leading internet penetration rate, it has become easier than ever before to launch a business online in Kenya. In 2020, a Internet World Stats (IWS) ranking showed that 87.2 percent of Kenyans were connected to the internet. Libya came second with 74.2%.
This has come with a heightened possibility for collaboration, mentorship, crowdfunding, and the all-so-important ready and growing market.
Many students survive through university and college by making money through small businesses and many have grown into very successful ventures. Dr. Bitange Ndemo, former ICT Permanent Secretary and a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Nairobi in an interview earlier this year argues;
“[With]...so many young, educated people, God has given us so many problems that any one solution you create to the problem, you succeed. In entrepreneurship we say, an opportunity is actually a problem on the other side.”
Being in college shouldn’t be a hindrance to your trying to offer a solution to an existing problem you can identify. In fact, you are probably at the best stage in life to try out your hand in business, however small you start.
Here are some of the small business ideas that you can start in college...
If you own a camera, that alone is enough to get you started on this venture. Campus students are known for their great love for photoshoots. You could start off by volunteering, offering free services for a while to create a buzz about your skills, and then move on to paid work.
Several free, basic photo editing apps such as PicsArt, Snapseed, Adobe Photoshop Camera, and Pixlr can be your starting point before gradually transitioning to more professional work.
As you grow your skill, so does the potential to partner with public-facing figures such as celebrities, influencers, and event organizers for regular work as ‘official photographer. This inevitably means that your networking skills must grow alongside your photography and editing skills.
With an ever-growing demand for personal and business branding talent, the ubiquity of social media marketing, and the transition to digitally-mediated experience-sharing and preservation of memories, photographers will continue to be in demand.
The Global Photographic Services Market Report 2021 estimates that the global market for photographic services will grow by 10.6% in 2021.
If you can learn photography, so can you learn videography too - which opens up numerous opportunities to work with everyone from the very private, to creatives in collaborative projects to big brands. This is especially true when you consider the growth in demand for freelance, outsourced services as opposed to maintaining in-house talent.
You can make promotional videos for events, people, or even video advertisements for local businesses and companies.
Just as in photography, if you have a good camera, a laptop, and have a good video editing suite such as Adobe Premiere Pro, you’re good to go.
Mobile video has exploded over the last decade in line with innovations across social networking sites - so, if you are worried that you don’t have a professional camera, a good phone camera can be very useful for social-media-focused video content production.
Go ahead and create a photography or videography company where you hold exclusive rights across venues or events and you could be charging a premium if you make a name for yourself.
Additionally, you can consider creating stock footage and images that you can sell at stock image websites such as Shutterstock and start earning yourself some passive income as you learn.
According to a study headed by Ritu Pant, the VP of marketing at Infographic World and Animations World, “information sent to the brain is 90% visual information and almost 93% of all human communication is visual.” What this means is that most people prefer visual content to text alone.
Most companies nowadays need some form of design for their brand awareness and marketing. You could use this to your advantage and build up skills in graphic design.
You can start with simple online design websites such as Canva and whether or not you’re studying design, there’s an open and definite market here.
If you have a passion for it, you could be designing flyers, posters, business cards, wedding invitations, websites, banners, etc. for a profit.
Research shows that as of 2017, Kenya’s color cosmetics market was estimated to be worth Ksh5.4 billion and was expected to grow to Ksh6.6 billion in 2018.
Talk of Njanja Kimani Koby who has worked with top musicians and celebrities like Yemi Alade, Sarah Hassan, Sauti Sol, and Amina Abdi Rabar just to mention but a few. She has also worked for big brands like Coke Studio Africa for Season 1 and 2 as well as Safaricom Live.
Another one is Muthoni Njoba who is the official brand ambassador and make-up artist for Maybelline New York Kenya. She has also worked with True Love Magazine for their cover photos.
So if you’re a pro at makeup, invest in some quality products and start hitting up all your peers and friends to find clients.
According to a report by AfroUrembo Beauty Trends in 2018, Kenyan women spend about Ksh50, 000 per year on average, on hair. The report further showed that Kenyan women are estimated to use about 20% of their income on hair.
This is another small business idea that you could start on campus. To learn the basics, you can find hundreds of video tutorials on YouTube on how to do different hairstyles. Start with the very basic hairstyles while offering cheaper prices and as you get better with your skills, you can do even more complicated hairstyles for better pay.
Take before and after pictures of all your customers and post them online and advertise yourself on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or WhatsApp to show your results and market yourself to others in order to grow your business.
There isn’t a direct or simple answer to how you can start a business on campus but as simple as all of the start-up ideas above look or sound, they honestly require a lot of patience and dedication.
Starting a business in College or University means that you will be getting practical knowledge and work experience even before finishing your course.
The most important thing to do is to find the balance between managing your academics and your business and be dedicated to both. Whether you've got a world-changing concept or just want to make some extra cash, you've got to take the first step.