It is a natural aspiration for many people to own and build empires - or a dynasty in Kenyan lingo. However, the reality of life is that sometimes we have to start small and slowly expand.
In business, certain enterprises allow one to start small - especially if you do not have the labour or resources to employ other people to help run the business.
One-person businesses are great stepping stones as they can easily be replicated once you have understood the business - and accumulated the resources to scale up. They are also great sources of employment in the informal sector - with millions of Kenyan operating through this model.
Here are the most successful one-person businesses in Kenya as established by Money254.
Mutura is an integral part of the Kenyan cuisine. The African sausage is made from goat and/or cow and/or lamb intestines sewn together and stuffed with various pieces of meat, onions, and sometimes bound together by a mixture of blood.
The popularity of the delicacy makes it an ideal business that has relatively low barriers to entry. To start a mutura business, you first need to pick a strategic spot, particularly outside a butchery along a busy road or alley. If you can find this spot in a middle-class estate - the better for your business.
Most businesses of this kind do not need a proper rental space -as with most businesses in the city. An outdoor space outside a butchery enjoys low rental rates at about Ksh7,000 per month in most middle-class estates such as Roysambu, Utawala, Membley, Kamakis, Kasarani, etc.
Once you have the space, you purchase the business equipment, including utensils and a jiko. The supply is sourced from abattoirs such as Kiamaiko, Dagoretti, and Baba Dogo. The type of meat used to make mutura is inexpensive and includes internal organs such as hearts, larger intestines, the stomach, and others that cost about Ksh200 per kilo.
A kilo of raw mutura can fetch about Ksh500 after it has been prepared. Other additions such as bone soup have high-profit margins of up to 400% - according to Mwangi Mathenge - a mutura vendor in Zimmerman.
His business operates for about five hours per day - usually from 5 pm -10 pm and comfortably fetches 4,000 as net profit. Working six days a week (slaughterhouses don't open on Sundays), this comes to about 24 days a month and an average of Ksh96,000 per month.
Read Also: How to Start a Business; Step-By-Step
The laundry business is driven by the demand for cleaning services - particularly among the lower and middle classes who cannot afford permanent house help.
The cleaner is paid to clean clothes and/or do general cleaning in a house or a business. The cost varies depending on the amount of work - a one-bedroom will typically cost Ksh500 for general cleaning - while a three-bedroom would cost about Ksh1,200 for the same service.
Some cleaners will offer the service as part of cleaning clothes, while others will have a separate charge. A good clean cleaner with a good reputation, who is diligent and fast with their work, can serve up to three houses in a day - fetching as much as Ksh3,000 daily.
The client provides the detergents and cleaning materials - sometimes even lunch - meaning there are little overheads in this business. For 22 days a month, this comes to Ksh66,000 a month - not bad!
A broker is an individual that acts as an intermediary between a buyer and a seller for a fee. Being a broker is often viewed with a negative connotation in Kenyan society.
However, as discussed in this earlier article, there is great potential when the business is done ethically. Most lucrative brokerage businesses include real estate, vehicles, heavy machinery, and farm produce.
The delivery business is currently dominated by established businesses such as matatu Saccos and taxi-hailing apps such as Uber and Bolt. However, there is an underserved niche of people who prefer discretion and a personalised delivery service - akin to concierge services.
These clients are willing to pay a premium for the delivery of valuables, which include documents and even common items such as deliveries, groceries, and personal shopping.
This business mainly works on referrals and repeat clients. Still, with the right attitude and diligence - it is a lucrative one-person business whose only investment is a car or motorbike for these deliveries.
Kenya continues to attract global organizations that are eyeing or operating in Eastern and Central Africa. Some of these entities are huge organizations with a full budget for setting up a local office that enables them to overcome the challenges of a new market.
However, some other small businesses and individuals are setting up here with limited resources to navigate Kenyan society. Some, especially the Chinese, have a limited understanding of both Swahili and English - the official languages in Kenya.
This has created a thriving translation business for Kenyans who understand some foreign languages, including Mandarin, French, Italian, and German.
There is also a related service for proofreading and editing business documents penned by foreigners with a limited understanding of English. This business service fetches between Ksh5,000 and up to Ksh15,000 per day, depending on the nature of the contract.
One of the oldest businesses has been the movements of goods from areas where they are high in supply and low in demand - to places with low supply and high demand.
Modernity has brought about globalization, changing lifestyles, and changes in demands for specific goods, but opportunities still abound in the transportation and logistics industry.
Lorries are particularly useful in this industry because of their efficiency when dealing with the bulk transportation of commodities.
However, many operators decry the hassle of hiring credible drivers, often resulting in the business collapsing due to reckless driving, and dishonesty, among others. The upside is that when starting, you can run a lorry transport business as a sole business, allowing you to maximize income and avoid the pitfalls in the business.
The real estate industry has been growing exponentially in Kenya due to the rising demand for land. The value of land, homes, and rental units has grown exponentially over the past decade.
This has created a lucrative business of providing sales services to real estate companies as they seek clients to buy land, houses, and rent out their properties. It is a relatively straightforward business where you agree to look for a buyer or tenant and get paid a commission on the sale.
Given the volumes involved, one deal is enough to secure you a windfall. For example, a 5% commission on a Ksh10 million house sale gets you Ksh500,000.
Read Also: The 9 Routes to Owning a Home In Kenya
In 2022, Kenya welcomed an estimated 1.46 million tourists who toured various sites in this beautiful country. Many of the tourists are not conversant with the country and require guides to show them around - which has created a major business dominated by large tour guides. However, there is still room for bespoke tour guide services, which can be done as a one-person business.
The internet has made it possible to create a unique personal brand, say on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, and target such tourists who may not prefer to deal with a large company.
Forex trading involves the exchange of one currency for another for trading purposes. The traditional forex trade was highly regulated by the Central Bank of Kenya - particularly before the markets were liberalized in the 1990s.
The internet has even expanded the space for forex trading through online platforms that allow you to buy currencies at a lower rate and sell them when they rise. Forex trading sites also allow rare commodities trade, such as oil, gold, and other rare minerals. You only need to create an account and invest in understanding how the prices are affected by geopolitical events.
The car hire business is capital-intensive, especially if you hire your own vehicles. However, it is a pretty flexible business; with a small fleet of cars, you can run it independently.
You could also use a model where you get cars from partners - and share the profits with them - rather than buying your own cars.