19 Online Businesses You Can Start in Kenya (Best online business ideas)

November 30th, 2021 by Felix Cheruiyot

Online Businesses You Can Start in Kenya - online-purchase

You can potentially earn a lot of money online. All it takes is a great online business idea and proper execution.

The advantage of some online businesses is that you can attract global clients.

You don't have to focus solely on the Kenyan market or suffer the impact of a poor-performing economy, which is a great thing.

Once you’re involved in selling digital products or publishing mobile apps, you can earn millions with minimal continuous effort.

IntaSend will be here to support you with a reliable means to accept online payments.

International customers can purchase your products or services through card payments such as MasterCard or Visa. You can offer local customers a faster means to pay with the M-PESA SKU.

Today, we're looking at 19 online businesses in Kenya that you can start without a heavy capital outlay.

Let’s get started:

1: Freelance Writing

The cat is out of the bag with freelance writing. It's one of the quickest ways to start earning money online. The reputation of Kenyan writers has been growing, making it easier to land jobs.

Freelance writing is a great way to make extra money, making it one of the most profitable businesses in the digital space!

A quick way to get started is to head to Facebook and search for local freelance writing groups. Become a member, and look for writing opportunities. Make sure you maximize the power of social media.

Other than taking gigs from other writers, there are more ways to venture into freelance writing. As a freelance writer, you must be up-to-date about what's going on in your industry. This is what sets you apart as a quality freelance writer besides being good at your work. You may start out as a small business, then proceed to make, perhaps, an agency out of it.

You can create an account on platforms such as Fiverr, People Per Hour, and Upwork. The platforms offer the chance to connect directly with websites looking for help with blog pages, product descriptions, sales pages, web pages, etc. If you're just an enthusiast, you can get started with an online course on freelance writing where you can learn the trade perfectly if you're lucky enough to get a good online course.

2: Running an e-Commerce Store

You very well know of Jumia or Kilimall. But there are more examples of e-commerce stores crushing it, for instance, Vituzote.com ( Housewares) and Saruk.co.ke (Computers & accessories).

Large e-commerce platforms such as Jumia or Amazon mostly have external sellers on their platforms. But for a start, you can resell high-profit and fast-moving products such as:

It's not a requirement to have a website, but it makes your business more professional & credible.

You also don't need to purchase all your inventory upfront —nobody will walk into your under-stocked shop.

For instance, if you’re selling cooking pans, you can easily purchase what you need after receiving an order. Running an e-commerce store can lead to a successful business. As one of the best businesses around, you just need to play the game efficiently.

3: Thrift Shop

There is a niche of Kenyan thrifters on YouTube with channels like DIY with Jojo and Nkatha-K.

They travel to places like Gikomba or Toi Market for awesome finds —quality second-hand items at bottom prices.

Now, thrifters resell the wares online using Facebook or Instagram. You can sell anything from:

And for your inspiration, you can check the following shops:

4: Custom Furniture Business

One of Kenya's most profitable online businesses is making custom furniture. Again, custom furniture is a profitable online business with high returns if you learn the trade correctly.

You don’t need tools or carpentry experience.

Start by posting a couple of interesting designs. Find your first client and get the details of their custom order.

You can ask for a deposit and find a quality Fundi to produce the item. After delivering the final product, you get paid.

Easy as it sounds, various businesses have used this model, including the now-famous Santana Africa.

5: Accounting & Company Formation Services

Kenya's economy is in recovery now that the year long-curfew has been lifted. You can expect more people to think about opening new businesses.

Staying compliant is becoming essential. But many entrepreneurs don’t know how to register a legal business or form a company.

Rather than sitting on a Law or Accounting degree, you can base your online business around offering accounting, tax, or company formation services.

You can also target job searchers with resume writing or coaching services. Businesses in this niche advertise actively on Facebook and local cybers.

6: Graphic Design & Video Editing

If you have some graphic design skills or know your way around video editing software, you can offer these services to online clients. You can even partner will busy photographers and studios. It’s one of the best online businesses for students. It is a low-cost business that you can turn into a very profitable online business. With a wide range of tools that can help you quickly become the go-to guy in the industry, graphic design and video editing can be lucrative for anyone. You can even create a YouTube channel to promote your services and offer guides to your target audience on getting little things done.

7: Freelancing More In-Demand Skills (Programming, Engineering, etc.)

There's a misconception that writing is the only way you can make money online. The truth is that there is a wide range of things you can do to make money, from engineering to architecture.

Some categories require fewer working hours, pay better, and allow you to use your real-world experience.

Here is a list of profitable and in-demand skills besides writing:

Social media marketing is taking over now. If you're a good social media marketer, there's a high chance you'll get as many clients as possible. On the other hand, as a virtual assistant, you may occasionally be required to fill in as a customer service support. As long as you have the right skills, the freelance market is big enough for everyone to thrive.

8: Affiliate Marketing & Blogging

Launching an online Amazon business in Kenya typically involves creating an affiliate site and signing up for the Amazon Associates program, and not to forget having the right skills.

You’ll need to choose a specific niche, such as technology, and produce content, such as product comparisons or top 10 lists.

The content will contain affiliate links, and you can earn a commission from Amazon once someone uses your links to make a purchase.

You can join more affiliate programs depending on your selected niche, such as Jumia KOL Program and ClickBank Affiliate for digital goods.

You can monetize a website in other ways. Advertising platforms such as Google Adsense can pay to show ads in banners. To drive traffic to the website, you must share your content on several online platforms, such as blogs, forums, and many more.

9: YouTubing and Becoming an Influencer

YouTube is the new way to make money in Kenya.

Users primarily make money from the advertising revenue they earn after YouTube shows ads on their videos.

The competition to stand out is fierce as many young people have discovered this moneymaking route. It becomes helpful to build a following outside the platform. With enough followers, brands will also want to advertise with you.

Introducing badges on Instagram, tickets on YouTube, and gifts on TikTok has also allowed creators to earn money by hosting live sessions. Your presence on several social media platforms can help boost your income as a content creator.

10: DropShipping

Dropshipping has often been advertised as a quick way to earn money online. Gurus show their dream lifestyles with fast cars and big mansions.

Some people purporting to show others how to make money online may not have experience or results. Watch out for the gimmicks as you try to find an online business to start.

The truth about dropshipping is that it can be profitable, but it takes some investment and luck. The model works by setting up an e-commerce website with products. You may need to run paid online ads to generate traffic.

You never hold the inventory. Once a purchase is made on your site, the supplier ships the product to the buyer.

Previously, you had to manually take care of many aspects of the business. Dedicated dropshipping platforms such as Oberlo have emerged to make business easier.

11: Importing & Selling Better-Quality Items

The Kenyan market is flooded with cheap and low-quality knockoffs. Some of these products break after a few uses, such as charging cables.

In response, many people try to source goods from other markets such as the UK. Most goods in these countries also come from China, but the quality may differ depending on the country.

So, how can you get your hands on brand items from the UK or US without a relative abroad?

Easy! Several shipping companies such as Kentex Cargo, Savo, or Cargo Commercial Kenya help Kenyans buy goods from online marketplaces. They can even buy items on your behalf if you don’t have a credit card.

Once the goods arrive, you only pay for the shipping based on the item’s actual or volumetric weight.

You can then resell imported items in listing directories such as Jiji.co.ke. Some popular items sold this way include Amazon Firesticks, Nintendos, gaming devices, the latest computers, and more!

12: Remote Tutoring

The long-drawn-out school closure beginning March 2020 made parents more receptive and prepared for online learning.

Many students now have laptops and tablets at home.

Your remote online tutoring business can run during holidays or weekdays, where you can offer homework assistance.

Don’t just stop at the live classes.

Creating a website can allow you to sell study guides, quizzes, and exam preparation materials. You can use Intasend once you have a website to get paid through M-PESA.

13: Building a Useful Website or App

Business directories such as Jiji.co.ke or Pigiame are already making money with this online business idea in Kenya. They don’t sell any products. Rather, businesses pay to boost their listings.

So, think of a unique problem your website or app can solve. For instance, M-Farm offers farmers access to an online marketplace with fewer intermediaries. Loan apps such as Tala, mKey, Timiza, KashPlus, LionCash, etc., provide access to quick loans.

14: Produce & Sell Your Own Products

An approach to business that may be missing in Kenya is the belief that you can produce and make your own products.

The thinking is ingrained in India and China, where small-scale manufacturers operate from home.

Find feasible products to manufacture. You can make bags, leather, or decor items and sell them online.

Craft websites such as Etsy.com can give you some inspiration and ideas.

15: Sell Digitial Products - eBooks, Photos, & More

Digital products exist purely electronically. You can’t touch or feel them. They don't require storage or assembly. The same digital product may be sold millions of times.

Some examples of digital products include:

16: Email Newsletters & Membership Sites

You'll be hard-pressed to find this idea among the best online businesses to start in Kenya. But it's actually quite possible to pull off.

You just need to offer exclusive content that people can pay to access.

For instance, you can publish podcasts or a video series. With membership sites such as Patreon, you can run your membership. Just picture this; a podcast can have membership levels ranging from $2 to $10 per month. With 200 patrons, you can make $400 to $2000 per month.

Another idea is to create an email newsletter. It entails sending regular emails to a subscriber base. You can target a specific topic like local news or perform a news roundup. People can pay to become subscribers.

17: Airbnb Business

Eva Mtalii covered in detail how to start an Airbnb business in Kenya. Here are the basics:

You don't need to own a property. Executing this online business idea in Kenya only requires a nice furnished rented apartment and a formal listing on AirBnB.com.

You can also advertise your business on Facebook groups, WhatApp Groups, or thru word of mouth.

18: Online and Remote Service Businesses

You can think of a service-based business where clients find your contact information online and call you to their home or place of business. Some mobile business ideas include cleaning, party decor, saloon, beauty & makeup, fitness instructor, etc.

You can also offer businesses web design and online marketing services. Earning Google Ads certifications can allow you to help businesses advertise online.

19: Monetize Facebook and Whatsapp Groups

An online business that pays but rarely gets discussed is becoming a group admin. You can start a Facebook group and grow it to thousands of members.

People can pay to post their items if your Facebook group involves buying or selling.

As a recent trend, paid WhatsApp and Telegram groups have emerged. They deal with business, relationships, or parental advice, with members paying a monthly fee.

Final Verdict: Online Businesses in Kenya

You don’t need much money to capitalize on these online business ideas.

What’s crucial is staying consistent and not giving up too soon. You’ll also need to scale your business, for instance, transitioning from a sole writer to a writing team with direct clients. Or building multiple apps with millions of paying users.

IntaSend is committed to being a reliable payment partner along the way. We strive to ensure that you never miss any opportunity to get paid, whether it’s by local or international clients.


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