As the year ends, we see people celebrating themselves more and more. The typical messages are how they have overcome tough times. This is a testament to the harsh economic conditions we have all endured in 2023.
To cope with the year, some people resorted to starting businesses. A few have grown this year despite the other businesses closing down and others downscaling.
Furthermore, the businesses that Kenyans started in 2023 have had to be unique to survive the harsh economic times.
Here are a few unique businesses Kenyans started in 2023.
The story goes around that when you cannot sustain yourself in the urban lifestyle, you return to the village and farm. While that is true, some people have turned that sentiment upside down. They have been bringing farming to the urban setup.
There is growth in the number of people who work from home. Working from home makes one spend a lot of time in their house. As opposed to working in the office where you leave your house early in the morning and come back late in the evening, you do not get to spend a lot of time in your house and do not have the time to tender to plants or even a garden.
By working from home, you want to elevate the space where you spend most of your time. In addition, you have the time to do a few extracurricular activities, such as gardening.
For those living in apartments, you can see balconies being turned into flower gardens with pot plants and crawling plants in the balconies. Those with a space in their compound have more flexibility; they can plant a flower garden or even a vegetable garden to help subsidise the price of groceries.
Some people have reinvigorated their passion for farming and have started urban farming consultation and supply businesses.
To farm effectively in these limited spaces, a lot of innovation and information is needed, and these businesses are innovating and educating budding urban farmers. The business is unique as it incorporates concepts that are not so obvious.
Seeing Kenyans think outside the box to sustain themselves, create jobs, and improve the environment is impressive.
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Street kitchens are a fascinating idea. The inflation in food products has made food very expensive. However, people still want to enjoy good food. Street kitchens allow people to enjoy good food at a cheaper price.
There has been a growing demand for street foods such as smocha, street burgers, sandwiches, chicken, etc.
If you wanted a KFC meal, you need a budget of about Ksh500, and you would have affordable offers on the KFC menu. However, with as little as Ksh200, you can have a replica of a KFC meal at these street food kiosks.
They can offer these foods at such cheap prices because they have minimal overhead costs. Running a street kitchen is less expensive than running a KFC kitchen.
Additionally, these street kitchens have creative liberties, giving them a competitive edge. No street kitchen makes a burger like the next because they try to one-up each other. All that works to the advantage of the customer.
The street kitchen idea has been picking pace in the last few years, but in 2023, these businesses have become part and parcel of people’s lives with the rising cost of living.
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Despite the challenging economic times, people still want to celebrate the special moments in their lives: birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, baby showers, weddings, and so much more.
But they want to have a good time on a budget. And since the climax of most of these celebrations is cake cutting, they need affordable cakes.
Enter home-based bakers. Anyone with baking skills and a simple oven at home could start this business. And many people did start it in 2023.
The advantage of starting such a business is the minimal overhead costs. You get to service orders as they come in; hence, there is no need for minimum order quantity to stay afloat. The marketing for such a business is not excessive since you start with your circle. You advertise in your work and church groups and grow with word of mouth.
This business can also be done as a side hustle. This means you do not have to quit what you are doing to bake. You can service your orders during your free time, earning additional income.
You can make snacks such as samosas, cupcakes, and mandazis to expand your product line. These will allow you to have a constant flow of business.
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With the growth in technology, convenience has become a competitive edge for businesses. People want convenience, and they do not mind paying for it. Hence, delivery services have expanded in 2023.
A small, great business is a delivery business. There are two ways to approach this. You can approach it by servicing the customer side, where you charge a small fee for running the customers' errands and shopping. With this approach, you are not affiliated with any businesses. You just service the customer with what they need and charge them an errand fee.
Conversely, you can work with businesses and service their customers. If it is a restaurant in your neighbourhood, you can serve as their delivery person, and part of your pay can come from the restaurant or be split between the restaurant and the customer. The advantage is that you can work with several business establishments to ensure you have enough volume to be appropriately compensated.
You need a bicycle or a motorbike to get into this business.
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The branding and printing business has been there for a long time. But the virality of some content and catchphrases made it stand out this year.
People with such businesses capitalised hugely on catchphrases that trended in 2023. A good example is the “mambo ni matatu” catchphrase that President William Ruto said.
The phrase was trendy, and a lot of merchandise was made about it until the President’s legal team filed a patent, making it illegal to use the phrase to make money unless you paid for a license.
Nonetheless, any print shop that was up to date with the trending news could capitalise on many other statements where they printed limited merchandise and got it to sell fast.
Tours, hikes, and road trips are becoming more acceptable for having fun, especially for young people. It is a positive movement as it gets young people outdoors, and they get to explore and appreciate nature.
This business has significantly picked up momentum in 2023 as people need ways of letting off steam build-up from the harsh economic conditions. Secondly, with many young people working online and remotely, it allows them the flexibility to make such escapades possible.
Companies in this space have increased, offering more and more exotic experiences and organising tours and hikes in the most unique locations.
The door-to-door makeup artists and saloon business have also been growing in 2023 thanks to a confluence of several things.
To start with, the convenience that we mentioned earlier. People do not mind being saved the trip to the salon or make-up studio if all that can be done at home.
Secondly, there is growth in platforms such as TikTok, which allow individuals to showcase their skills. Hence, they start getting customers even without having a shop.
Third, the harsh economic times make raising capital to set up a salon or make-up studio challenging. Hence, this entrepreneur gets their work kit and carries it from customer to customer.
Content creation is an idea that has been making more and more people money in 2023. However, we shall focus on how content creation has opened up avenues to sell related products and services and not selling the content per se.
The following are ideas you can sell online through content creation.
Cooking content has exploded online. People are showcasing their cooking skills as well as their creativity when it comes to the kitchen. This has morphed into people being interested in trying different recipes created by the food creators. Therefore, food creators have noted this and started selling their recipes. Once they make a video cooking a certain meal, they attach a link or WhatsApp number where people can buy the recipe they have just seen.
Like the selling recipes business, health and fitness content creators have followed the trend. They get to sell diet plans and workout routines.
This adds an extra income to gym trainers and allows fitness enthusiasts to make a living out of their passion.
If you are house hunting, it is easy to jump on TikTok and search the type of house you are looking for, the area you are interested in, and your budget, and you will find videos made about the apartments or houses in that area.
The creators who create these videos get a lot of inquiries about the houses they showcase, and if you are interested in having someone help you scout for a suitable house, you can engage them at a fee, and they will help you find the house of your choice.
Other creators interested in business create content around small businesses you can start. They research businesses that you can start with any amount. They then create content but make money when consulting on such businesses.
Some even conduct training on how to start businesses in different industries, such as imports, farming, second-hand clothes sales and so forth.
I have even seen this being taken to WhatsApp, where the training is conducted.
2023 has been quite an experience for most people. Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see that some individuals have risen above the pressure and created unique businesses that have helped them make a living and help others along the way.
As we head into 2024, you can try any of these ideas. All the best in the new year.