Last Updated on July 9, 2020

Untapped Small Business Ideas in Kenya


We are bringing you the ultimate list of 36 untapped small business ideas in Kenya for your 2020.

Kenya is generally considered the region’s economic, commercial and logistic center of Africa. Kenya’s urban areas, especially the capital of Nairobi are known for their many well-edited English speaking professionals and a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

Kenya’s population is also very young, with almost 79% of its 46 million people under the age of 35. Technology is very advanced in Kenya with the country considered a leader in value-added mobile services, internet access, and e-commerce.

Leading export sectors include energy, agribusinesses, medical and franchising. Some smaller American companies have also found success catering to Kenya’s tourism industry, such as providing the U.S. wine and food products to safari operators.

Kenya is also relatively rich in natural resources, and the country may soon begin to develop its oil and gas resources. Doing business in Kenya is now easier than ever, thanks largely to government reforms that have reduced red tape.

The U.S. Commercial Service has experts on the ground in Nairobi to help American businesses plan their growth into this bustling East African market.

10 reasons why is a good idea to start a small business in Kenya

There’s a lot of opportunity for various products and services in the Kenyan market. The Kenyan consumer is also very well versed and very well educated. They also know that they require choice in terms of the products that they need. This makes them very consumer-centric and there is also a rise of the middle class which now requires more options and they are looking at spending more. The spending power, of course, and purchasing power of the Kenyan buyer has gone up. 

Kenya is a good business hub and destination. This is obviously because of the talents of many Kenyan and because of the rich natural resources that are readily available in the entire region. Infrastructure has already developed in the country. There is access to fiber technology, so broadband access and online content, as well as online purchasing, have also gained a lot in Kenya. 

There is also a good business environment for companies. Kenya is a very peaceful place to start up your business. Kenyans love working with people who are coming from various parts of the world, mostly American companies and brands. So, it would be very good for a company to come and set up their businesses in Kenya.

Kenya is very unique. It has a very vibrant and dynamic ICT sector. You may have heard of M-PEsa which is a mobile payment system and is probably one of the leading systems in the world. So, there are so many ICT companies that are coming in because of the high technology and expertise that Kenya has there. 

Agribusiness is a huge sector in Kenya! 70% of the people in Kenya are employed in the agricultural sector. Some companies have products, equipment, chemicals, and services that pertain to that do quite excellently. 

E-commerce is a growing industry in Kenya. One of the things that Kenya has is a very robust, very strong mobile payment system. Roughly about 80% of the people have telephones, smartphones in the marketplace and a lot of them are making payments via electronics. 

Kenyans, generally, like to be respected and be treated as equals. So, if a company is coming in and they meet executives or even if the executives are not dressed appropriately, it would be good to respect these people because, at the end of the day, they make a lot of decisions. In terms of just general business timings, Mondays to Thursdays are a very good time to conduct meetings since people are mostly laid back on Fridays. However, people do not want to get into meetings on weekends, most especially on Saturdays. So, if you are a foreign investor and coming into Kenya and would be landing on a Thursday and would like to have a meeting the following day on Friday or over the weekend, it might less or not likely to work out. 

Kenya is a springboard for other markets in the region because it is the art of the East African community. So you are not just selling or marketing your product in a country to 45 million people, you also have access to a market of six countries with nearly 145 million people. So, that opens up the doors for a lot of opportunities for you in your business ventures. 

The U.S – Kenya partnership goes back to 50 years and the commerce and the trade part of the partnership is one of the most critical components of it. So a lot of Kenyans are very much happy to see so many American companies coming in. The numbers increase every year because they realize the importance of the marketplace.

Kenya is a large place to venture into your business. You are not just partnering with a country, but you are also entering in a business place in a very large continent. This gives you more opportunities to venture in other African regions. Making your start in Kenya is already a good start with more possible business ventures await you!

What are the untapped business ideas in Kenya?

1. Agribusiness

Kenya’s agriculture accounts for more than 25% of the African Continents GDP and nearly 70% of all employment in Africa.

Investing in farming in Kenya will not only earn you money but also create job opportunities for the locals as well as increase food production.

With Kenya’s rich natural resources, it is very much a great business decision to venture into this area of entrepreneurship.

A lot have already engaged in this business because they do not only make use of their natural resources, but they are also a part of promoting the region’s natural wealth. 

2. Housing as Business Opportunity in Africa

There is a consistent increase in migration in rural areas in Kenya and other parts of Africa. Rental fees are getting high; that is why most government-based institutions in Kenya will not be able to have affordable housing for most Kenyans.

Venturing into the housing business may take a little bit of time since you need to pass the necessary requirements which the country imposes.

However, being in this business venture means a stable financial income. Not only will you be able to earn money, but you are also providing homes and shelters for most Kenyans who do not have access to affordable housing.

3. Furniture Business

The furniture business has been making tremendous progress in design and quality in Kenya and across other countries in Africa.

This is expected to give an annual growth rate of 10.4%, resulting in a market volume of $461 million by 2022. Many Kenyans are experienced in the furniture industry.

They know crafting, wood carving, and even sculpture. Such talent would be a waste if they will not be able to use them wisely.

Some foreign investors have invested in giving livelihood seminars among the Kenyans. This only means that they are given formal pieces of training in this field.

4. Affordable private schools

Kenya is experiencing a major deterioration in the quality of education in public schools.

Because of corruption, lack of or almost no financial fund, and the continuing increase in their population, a lot of public schools have closed.

Entering into establishing private schools can be  a very good business idea. There are already numerous foreign investors who have funded the building of different private educational institutions in Kenya and even in some rural parts of Africa.

So, establishing affordable private schools would not only help Kenyans have affordable access to education, but this would also open a lot of opportunities for many Kenyans and Africans to get their educational degrees. 

5. Affordable healthcare facilities

Kenya faces a great problem in their healthcare facilities. There are numerous public Kenyan hospitals which are scarce in financial support from the government.

Most of the doctors and physicians would rather walk miles across the world just to have a good-paying and stable job in the field of medicine.

We all know that Africa is facing a lot of adversities, especially in terms of their health. If you venture into the healthcare facility, you are opening opportunities for a lot of Kenyan to solve their medical problems.

Not only that, but you are also able to minimize the number of doctors and practitioners who are moving out of the country, crossing miles and miles just to have a decent and good-paying medical job.

6. Business in waste management

For a very long period, Kenya has been facing major problems related to waste.

The problems will continue to become more severe as the country continues to increase rapidly. In most parts of Kenya, the waste is burned, openly disposed or buried.

To avoid an environmental crisis in the future, an entrepreneur can venture into a waste recycling business and can create useful products for resale.

The country’s poor waste management is a result of their lack of equipment and facilities that would segregate their wastes properly which poses less to no dangers at their health. 

7. Urban transportation business

As more people continually move to the cities, there is a need to increase urban transportation.

Poor infrastructure’s inefficiency, and congestion torment urban dwellers as they commute within the city.

Introducing efficient, comfortable and affordable modes of transportation is a huge gap for the African, mostly Kenyan residents, that can earn entrepreneurs millions of money.

It is undeniable that there are many foreign and local tourists in Kenya. A place of tourism and business, it would be a great start to have a business in urban transportation.

There is a high chance for you to cater not only to residents and local tourists, but you may also extend your market to foreign tourists as well.

With Kenya’s fast-paced development, this is a wonderful business idea in Kenya. Buses and trains are just a few of the areas of transportation that you may want to look into if you are going to venture into this business.

8. Drones

Drones in Kenya, generally Africa, are mostly used to track terrorists and take good professional photographs.

However, drone technology is being used in the African continent to enhance farming and to deliver humanitarian aid.

Drone technology is still a new concept in the country that can be explored further by modern entrepreneurs.

Many Americans have already established a business in drones and studies have shown a great increase in their success upon venturing in this business.

Most of the clients for this business are photographers who are into cool and panoramic pictures of the beautiful sceneries in Kenya

9. Local products

Kenya is now exporting a few local products that they produce. A lot of business people are into export businesses that are produced locally in Kenya.

This opens to so many job opportunities for Kenyans. They are your primary human resource since they have the knowledge and the skills to come up with great ideas in turning their local products into something profitable.

There is a very minimal requirement for capital in this entrepreneurship since the materials are readily available in the area. 

10. Providing funding for startups

Most people in Kenya have entrepreneurship skills but they lack the capital that they need to implement their business ideas.

Investors are now venturing into this market by providing capital to upcoming entrepreneurs in Kenya and even in entire Africa.

This may sound expensive but it has a great turn-out of investment. Giving a certain percentage as a form of interest may allow you to gain your profit.

Not only are you able to gain money, but you are also giving opportunities for those who wish to start their own business as well. 

11. Fin-tech Business

Fin-tech is the technology that helps people to use technology to access financial and banking services. In Kenya, most people have no access to financial services whereas chunks of the population still use cash.

Kenyans have already adopted a life with technology and financial technology business is a great way to fit in their lifestyle.

It is estimated that 70% of the Kenyans prefer to access their finances via technology and establishing this business could be a great chance for you to boost your entrepreneurship while making Kenyans’ lives a lot better! 

12. Film and Videos

The highest part of the entire population of Kenya is composed of young people.

This opens up opportunities for business in the movie industry for entrepreneurs.

Many young Kenyans are very much talented and creative. Kenyans have already produced movies that have become a global hit. Kenyan teens are fond of creating videos and films.

Some of them even aspire to become film directors and editors. Having this kind of business would surely open up doors for aspiring youngsters to achieve their dreams.

For a start, you may indulge in giving pieces of training and seminars on films and movies.

This is a great business venture since it has been projected that Kenya shall be a home of many filmographies and directors in 2050.

13. Fashion industry

Kenyans mostly wear hand-me-down clothes from foreign countries.

If you start a business in this industry, you are giving opportunities for the locals and would even help them start wearing clothes that are originally made and tailored for them.

It is expected that the Kenyan fashion industry will be doubling in the next 10 years.

This goes without saying that venturing in this industry means a good fortune for your future.

Most women know the fashion industry, especially the young ones who have become avid fans of the different youtube channels showcasing fashion models and styles.

This type of business would give you great business opportunity since Kenya is known for its wonderful and colorful textiles, making it a lot easier for you to explore in this entrepreneurship. 

14. Sport betting

The betting industry is regarded as a controversial topic in most African countries, even in Kenya. Yet, it is one of the easy business ideas in Kenya for young entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, sports betting in Kenya is making millions of money. Many young people are now enthusiastic about sports, making the betting industry market a very promising one. 

15. Renewable Energy

Most people in Kenya have limited access to electricity, and many of them depend on firewood and charcoal for domestic use.

This endangers the depleting forest cover in Africa. Entrepreneurs can venture into the business of providing renewable energy to the wide market at an affordable price. 

16. Urban logistics

The migration of rural to urban places in Kenya has already created traffic congestions in the city.

This resulted in so many inconveniences for most Kenyans. Traveling from one place to another has also become a great frustration for many citizens in Kenya.

However, if you venture into this business, you may contribute to the solution to this problem by offering delivery services that help most Kenyans in saving their time and energy in getting from one place to another.

17. Automobiles

As urban transportation continues to become a nightmare to many Kenyan residents, most people in Africa are now getting their modes of transport. 

18. Procurement and Logistics

In Kenya, there is a gap in large-scale procurement and logistic services. The demand for these services is very high by international organizations or even local entrepreneurs and small scale businesses. Venturing in this business will give entrepreneurs a chance to serve the ever demanding field. 

19. Study platforms for students

It is a sad reality that there are still some students in Kenya who have very limited access to the library. This is because of the increasing number of people in the place.

However, most of these students already have their own smartphones which can be downloaded with applications – making these gadgets their e-library. Entrepreneurs like you may want to consider having this business.

Putting up a place where you give internet access to students in doing their academic activities.

Aside from online study platforms, you may also want to consider establishing buildings such as study hubs where students can do their homework and do their academic stuff.

All you need are a good and wide collection of books and a conducive place for students to study. 

20. Financial consultancy firm

Kenya is a developing country with most people seeking to venture into businesses.

There is a big business opportunity for entrepreneurs who can offer market research and investment advice for young entrepreneurs growing in Kenya.

Since a lot of people in Kenya invested their money in businesses, there is a need for them to have the right place to consult about what to do with their businesses and investments.

All you need to have is good training and knowledge to be able to get to your market. 

Small business ideas in Kenya

 Small business ideas in Kenya are the types of entrepreneurship which do not require a great amount of money to start with.

This business may be small for others, but it gives you constant and sure profits as they are a normal trend in the economy in Kenya and is indispensable in the daily lives of many Kenyans.

So, what are some small business ideas in Kenya? Read on as we walk through these ideas!

1. Stationery Shop

Selling books, pencils and other stationery materials would be a great way to start your shop.

There are many students, especially kids, in Kenya who need writing and reading materials for them to continue their schooling.

This is a low-cost business with a high-profit margin. You may have $100-$200 as your primary investment and you can grow this into a bigger amount as you continue in your business venture.

2. Fruit Stand

Kenya has so many natural resources for fruits and vegetables, making it so easy to start your fruit stand. You may sell varieties of fruits that are readily available in the country!

You only need fresh and healthy food items for selling. This type of business offers you an attractive profit margin with very low capital for a start.

This type of business will eventually give you $200-$250 primary investment, which again can grow more if you desire enough to expand your establishment!

3. Printing press

This is becoming a trend in Kenya nowadays. Many people, students, and even entrepreneurs themselves need their materials and papers printed.

You may vary this business venture from the need of people in their party cards, invitations, election posters, school works, reports, and so many others. 

4. Appliance repair shop

This is, so far, one of the best small business ideas in Kenya or even in Africa!

You simply need to market your service online and you get unlimited customers who need their appliances fixed! You don’t even need to have a shop for a start!

You may offer them home-service at first, and once you already have established enough money for capital, you can start putting up your shop where people can contact you and they can drop their pieces of the appliance for fixing.

It is an ideal business since most Kenyan does not want to replace their appliances right away and they would always look for ways to have them repaired before spending money for a new one.

5. Party decoration service

If you are into parties and would want to venture into a business related to it, this might be the right choice of business for you! You may offer your customers supplies of tables and chairs, sound system, party accessories, and decorations!

6. Customized t-shirt selling and printing

You may want to try and print various attractive designs for shirts on special occasions and sell them. Couple shirts are now becoming a trend, especially for teenagers and young lovers nowadays.

So, they are most probably your main and target customers. You may also offer your service on election dates, family reunions and other special occasions which may require your customers to have their special and customized shirts.

7. Cosmetic Items selling

Since vanity has become a necessity for most of us, especially women, it is becoming a trend to venture into cosmetic items selling in Kenya.

Many Kenyan women have been influenced by many tourists who introduced varied cosmetic items. This may vary from powered to lipstick to perfumes.

Apart from this, you may also extend selling these cosmetic items online.

There are a great number of people, mostly women, who shop for their cosmetics online.

This would make your business venture even wider; thus, reaching to more and bigger market! 

8. Sewing businesses

For a start, you may simply have one sewing machine and start your small sewing business at home. Once started, you may expand and have your sewing shop.

This can be a very good start for your business, especially if you have basic knowledge and skills in tailoring.

Many Kenyans prefer their clothes to be personally sewn to achieve comfort in their dress.

Once your business has grown, you may even expand by conducting pieces of training and seminars on sewing to men and women who can be part of your business.

9. Video editing

Technology has greatly developed in Kenya and video editing is a great start-up business for you. Your target market may vary from people and occasions.

Mostly, special occasions such as weddings and birthdays may need your help in video editing. You may even be tapped by famous vloggers to help them edit their vlog entries.

10. Handcraft business

Kenyans are very much talented and exploring in this business will never be a waste of time and money for you.  

Online business ideas in Kenya

Online business has spread all over Kenya and even in Africa. A lot of business entrepreneurs earn money online. Here are just a few online business ideas in Kenya:

1. Blogging

Kenya is rapidly developing its internet and technology and many Kenyans, both you and seasoned entrepreneurs, have entered the world of blogging.

If you are into home-based jobs and have a passion for writing, the world of online blogging might be the perfect place for you! With a few blog entries, you can already start earning!

RELATED: 17 Ways on How to Earn 10 Dollars Per Day Online

You may even expand your blogging business by hiring writers using different niches and topics.

All you need in this business venture are computers, good internet speed, and of course, great writing skills!

You can also promote your blogs through different social media platforms. Having more readers means more money for you! The more you promote, the more reads you acquire, the more money you earn!  

2. Online travel agency

Kenya has interestingly become one of the world’s most famous destinations. With this, venturing in an online travel agency would be a great way of opening your doors to earning money through travel bookings.

Both local and foreign tourists are your target market. There are so many ways of promoting your business through the use of different social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, websites, and others.

Print media may also be one of the ways to promote your business. 

3. Online selling

As part of the trend now, online selling can also be one of the small business ideas in Kenya. Your products may vary from shoes to clothes to books and others.

The internet has made our world smaller which makes it easier for you to reach out to different customers from all over the world.

However, one of the downfalls of venturing in this business is scammers who pretend to buy your product but would eventually fail to do so.

That is why it is a must to ensure the authenticity of your business to also have honest buyers. 

4. Online tutorial

We have already mentioned that Kenyans are very much highly educated.

Therefore, it is no wonder if there are Kenyans who are well-versed with different topics in the academe. To further extend and make use of your knowledge and skills, you may extend your business venture in an online tutorial.

Topics may vary, however, English lessons are high in demand due to many non-English speaking people coming from different parts of the world.

For this business, you need a good computer set, a very good and fast internet speed, and of course your patience and skills in teaching!

Your learners may vary from kids to adults with different levels and different learning styles.

It may sound difficult, but once you get to have students who love you, they would keep coming back. More students mean more earning for you, too! 

5. Vlogging

Apart from blogging, another platform for earning money for free is vlogging! There is estimated44% of internet users are interested and watch vlogs every month.

That number says that almost half of the internet users are your possible target market! It is very easy and cheap to start your vlog.

You only need to have a good youtube account with contents that interest your viewers.

This online business may be difficult at first, but once you get to have a stable amount of subscribers, you get to keep on doing more vlogs.

One challenge to face in vlogging is to come up with content that interests your target audience. As your views and subscribers get high, your earnings also get high!

Reaching at least 1k subscribers already entitles you to have ads and with these ads, you get paid.

For this business, you need to have a great computer set, fast internet speed (especially for uploading your videos), a good camera set, and good skills in editing.

Keep on promoting your youtube channel for you to gain more subscribers and you are on your way to getting more views and more money! 

Small business ideas in Kenya

1. Bakery

Starting with a small bakery would require you to have good skills in marketing as well as, of course, in baking. Frequent materials you need for this industry include eggs and flour which are of no problems since Kenya is rich in their sources.

This business idea may start small and would only ask for a small capital, but it would give you great investment turnout in due time. 

2. Mushroom farming

This is a very cheap business that only requires your pure knowledge and area to grow your mushrooms.

Few business owners have started in this business which gives you more chances of growing your farming into something bigger due to small numbers of competitors.

Few competitors only mean you get to have this business sector almost to yourself. This is a very good sign for those who love farming and growing mushrooms in their backyard. 

3. Vending machines for fruits

Since Kenya is a place rich with fruits and vegetables, it would be very easy for you to market these products.

Fruit vending machines are now helping Kenyans to achieve and maintain their healthy lifestyle.

All you need to do is to look for a perfect location for your vending machine which has good and stable outlets and you are good to go! 

4. Car washing

Since Kenyans have a growing transportation service, a lot of car owners would need to have their cars washed.

Most drivers and car owners do not have the time to wash their vehicles and filling in for such a task means business for you.

You only need a space where to start your car washing business and a few pieces of equipment to start this business endeavor. 

5. Laundry service

Kenyans are very much busy with their daily lives and may not have the time to spare for washing their laundry. This business venture is very easy to start with. All you need to have are good washing machines and a place to set up your other equipment. 

Food business ideas in Kenya

In the world of business, the food industry is probably always in high demand! If you are thinking of venturing into business, you can never go wrong with food!

The food industry is the most invested in any country simply because everybody eats! It is an indispensable need of an individual; therefore, venturing into the food business in Kenya is a top choice for you to consider in your checklist.

Here are a few of the food business which you may want to explore in Kenya:  

1. Catering

If you are into cooking, this is a very good business to start with. Along with your trusted small team, you can start this business off. Your catering business may also need your kitchen utensils and, of course, good marketing strategies. 

2. Coffee shop

Coffee is a part of everyone’s morning. This business is a very easy way to earn money. With a great shop location – one that is near and surrounded by people – is a needed criterion to achieve.

Once your location is accessible by many, it would be easy for you to market your coffee shop. Here, you may also sell snacks such as donuts, bread, and sandwiches. 

3. Samosa

Samosas are loved by many – young and old! This business is something that you can establish at home or a nice place. Samosas are easy to prepare and you can also include in your recipe some drinks such as coffee, tea or juice to pair it up with. 

4. Pancake and chapatti

These are very easy to make and families, especially the kids, love to have them during breakfast! Because of its easy and simple preparation, you may want to consider having this business in your neighborhood and let the people buy from your cart, perhaps, or even at home! With this, you are saving the location to put up your business but earning more money. 

5. Yogurt and ice cream

This business is simple and cheap to start with. If you have the skill, you may even make ice creams that taste better than those in the market.

With a small amount of capital and a bit of creativity, you can have success in this business. With persistence and talent, along with a great marketing strategy, this business would be a great hit for you!   

6. Wrap up

With Kenya’s fast and growing economy, investing your businesses in the place does not only ensure profit, but it also opens up opportunities for your business to grow and expand.

Untapped Small Business Ideas in Kenya Conclusion

Kenya has been shining in the global business limelight and has grown spectacularly with the different and huge companies coming in and investing in the place.

Business titans such as Cova Cola, IBM, and Google have already invested in Kenya. It is no wonder if you take a risk and persevere enough, your business ventures will all be worthwhile!

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