In Summary
  • Offer a paid mentorship programme in your area of technical expertise.
  • Teach children about art and crafts during their school holidays and over the weekend.
  • Teach sign language to individuals.
  • Do you have questions for the writer? E-mail:

If there’s anything you’ve picked up over the weeks of pitching tent here every Monday, it’s that I strongly advocate for a side-hustle.

You know, an activity that generates income while you’re at your regular 9-to-5. It works while you work. Then, at the end of the month, its income sits in the same pot as your salary.

I’m about to share 50 business ideas you can start with less than Sh50,000.

I’ve compiled this list from my personal engagement with businesses, ideas I’ve harboured myself for a while, businesses that are still running online, some I’ve seen people give a shot, and from sitting across tables with folk who’ve had a first-hand experience with the ideas.

Remember this: it’s one thing to have a business idea in your hands, and another thing to build a business out of that idea. It’s yet another thing to turn that business into a sustainable and thriving enterprise.

Ideas turn into businesses, which turn into sustainable enterprises.

Grit and talent is what matures one into the next.


A few ground rules to remember about these ideas and the businesses birthed from them:

a) You’ll advertise and market your business through social media, not traditional media. That’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. You need to be adept with social media tools. Including how to create and manage social media campaigns.

b) Distribution is one of the major headaches for small businesses. Distribution here means delivering your goods to your customer’s door. Figure out early how you’ll get it done. Whether you’ll have a rider you pay by the deliveries per day, or whether you’ll have him on retainer.

c) You don’t need any technical skills to get these businesses off the ground – what you need is your brawns and sweat. We call it sweat capital. Actually, a business that requires less than Sh50,000 of starting capital has a high demand for sweat capital.

d) Remember also to be exclusive. If you’re buying stuff for resale, be known as that guy, or that chick, for particularly that item. Don’t be a jack of all trades – so don’t stock denim jackets this month then next month it’s skirts for cucus and the next month flowered bowties for the androgynous.

e) Lastly, use the skills you already have within your reach.

Suggested 50 ideas

Here goes:

1.     Buy and resell second-hand baby clothes

2.     Buy and resell second-hand sweaters for young millennial girls (20 to 24 year olds)

3.     Buy and resell second-hand pants for older millennial women (28 to 37 year olds)

4.     Buy and resell second-hand dresses for older millennial women (28 to 37 year olds)

5.     Buy and resell office and casual shirts for men (working men)

6.     Buy and sell second-hand crockery (dinner and tea sets)

7.     Buy and sell second-hand antique cutlery

8.     Become a personal shopper for urban men

9.     Become a personal shopper for urban women

10. Write and publish an e-book on motherhood for dummies

11. Write and publish an e-book on fatherhood for dummies

12. Write and publish an e-book of select motivational Bible verses

13. Write and publish an e-book of ‘365 days of positivity’

14. Offer classes that teach vernacular. Say Kalenjin, Kikuyu, Dholuo etc

15. Offer classes that teach a foreign language, say French, Spanish etc

16. Supply a variety of imported fruits

17. Supply locally grown vegetables

18. Supply locally grown organic fruits and vegetables

19. Supply camel milk

20. Become a social media community manager

21. Become a social media brand strategist

22. Become a broker for antique and unique home accessories

23. Become a broker for ready-made home furniture

24. Become a house-to-let agent

25. Write copy for online websites

26. Write advertising copy online

27. Write academic papers online

28. Collect data for research companies

29. Become a beta tester for companies rolling out new products into the market

30. Run errands for individuals

31. Run errands for corporate companies and registered businesses

32. Do and deliver household shopping for individuals

33. Manage a fleet of boda bodas who run errands

34. Manage a fleet of taxis for individuals with 9-to-5s

35. Buy and sell raw honey from Kitui

36. Buy and sell kiondoos from Machakos

37. Buy and sell pure tea from Bomet

38. Buy and sell soap carvings from Kisii

39. Buy and sell handwoven baskets from Western and Nyanza

40. Buy and sell handmade jewellery from Maasailand

41. Become an interior decorator focusing on African-inspired aesthetics

42. Become an interior decorator and stylist

43. Collect official documents for people from government offices

44. Teach people of all ages how to swim

45. Become a travel consultant for tourists

46. Offer classes for a musical instrument. Say, a guitar, piano, violin

47. Offer a Masterclass in your area of technical expertise. Say, photography, creative writing, basic accounting and tax

48. Offer a paid mentorship programme in your area of technical expertise

49. Teach children about art and crafts during their school holidays and over the weekend

50. Teach sign language to individuals


Do you have questions for the writer? E-mail: