How to Start a Successful Online Businesses in Kenya

August 20th, 2022 by Felix Cheruiyot


People are ditching the traditional way of running businesses and starting online businesses in Kenya to create several ways of earning money. The internet has become a huge player in our world and has liberated many people as it has helped create opportunities for people to make a good living. Without the internet, it would have been impossible to have billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, among many others. The special thing about the internet is that it gives everyone an equal opportunity to be the best they can be if only they would leverage this powerful tool.

Those who have taken advantage of this powerful tool have started reaping the benefits. Let’s all face it; the world is changing rapidly, and the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to evolve and take full advantage of what this new way offers. Online businesses in Kenya are booming more than ever, with sectors like e-commerce, payment solution, and content creation at the summit of success and greatness. With the right online business ideas, you can make a good living for yourself despite the competition and the drawbacks that come with it.


The chart above shows the leading e-commerce sectors in Kenya in 2020, with electrical goods taking a huge chunk at 29%. Health and beauty followed closely at 24%, with airlines and hotels taking 19% of the sector's total share. The last two sectors in the Kenyan e-commerce business in 2020 were homeware and furniture, and media and entertainment, at 10% and 7%, respectively. The industry has been performing excellently, with brands like Jumia and Jiji leading the way. A Statista study shows Kenya’s e-commerce revenue could reach $4.5 billion by 2025. This generally shows the strength of the industry in the country, giving people who’re considering starting an online business in Kenya the encouragement they need to get started.

Without a doubt, getting an online presence is one of the first steps involved in achieving success with your online business; after all, you have to be out there for people to see before they notice your product/service in the first place. The good news is that the internet offers a lot of this - an online presence. If you manage to adopt the right approach and work with the right team, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. Getting into the business involves knowing the pros and cons of the online business you’re opting for. Without this knowledge, you may not survive the hurdles as your mind won’t be prepared for the drawbacks, thinking the benefits are the only thing you’ll keep enjoying.

Before we explore the pros and cons of top online businesses in Kenya, let’s start by looking at some of the things you should consider before settling for any online business in the country. This will guide you to make important and informed decisions that will help you avert a crisis when you eventually get into the business.

How To Choose An Online Business - 5 Things To Consider

Starting an online business can seem easy from afar. However, once you start getting close to starting, you will soon realize it will get harder before it gets any easier; that’s the nature of the online space. Whatever business you’re looking to start has already been started by thousands and millions of people, which makes the space very competitive. However, success is guaranteed if you adopt the right approach and play by the books. The most important thing is to take your time and learn the trade before you start making financial commitments. If you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before you lose your capital. You should understand that luck plays little to no role in your success. It’s mostly about whether or not you can take opportunities when they come.

While there’s no general playbook to follow when starting an online business, at least there’s no one that 100% guarantees success; there are important factors to consider before you go all in. Considering these factors will help you identify your position, make informed decisions, and take the necessary steps if you have a chance at survival (not even successful now). If you’re getting on with big capital, you must consider these factors if you don’t want to make a huge loss before you even begin. Below are some of the most important factors we think should be considered before anyone starts an online business or decides to make financial commitments.

Choose the niche you understand

Nelson Mandela once said, “There’s no passion to be found in playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Those are powerful words from one of the greatest men the world has ever seen. If you’re considering starting an online business, it has to be a niche you understand. We’ve often been told only to do what we love, and the same rule applies to this part of our lives. If you’re choosing any online business in Kenya, it has to be something you feel very passionate about. The goal is undoubtedly to bring in additional income to lead a good life. However, if you make the mistake of choosing a niche you have no passion for, it’s only a matter of time before you grow weary, and the whole business will come crumbling down.

There are many things in it for you if you opt for a business niche you understand and have passion for. You have to choose a service, product, or area that you find most appealing. It has to be something that truly interests you. That way, you will build a money-making business while not missing out on the adrenaline rush that comes with doing what you love. Even if making money is your greatest motivation in starting an online business, there must be interest on your end and some level of expertise because you don’t want to put your money where you have no passion.

A good domain name

A good domain name plays a huge role in the success of any online business, so you have to sit down and think of one. Domain names are the URLs that identify your company or product on the web. They’re often the first thing someone learns about your brand, which is also incredibly important. You can’t afford to make a domain name mistake. The best names are unique, descriptive, and easy to remember. But finding a good name often requires combing through endless web pages, which can be time-consuming.

You must be creative when choosing the ideal domain name for your online business. You’ll need a name that’s memorable and easy to spell, but also one that’s easy to remember and rank for in search engine results. Consider the following questions when choosing a domain name for your online business: What’s the name of the product or service you’re offering? What’s the name of your service or product category? Most domain names are already taken, so you’ll need to be strategic and patient. Your domain name should be memorable and easy to type and spell. Find a domain name that has some meaning or connotation to your business or industry. This will help you identify potential names that are easy to remember but difficult to confuse with other businesses.

Your target audience

Your target audience is vital to the success of your online business - these are the people you’re selling to, so you must be clear about who they are. First, you need to understand your market - who’s buying what you have to offer and why. This will help you design a marketing strategy that speaks to the needs of your target audience and will help build their trust and affinity. You can then use these insights to inform your choice of content to create a narrative that resonates with your audience. This will also help you to understand your audience better, which will help you to create more engaging content that will keep them coming back.

It is important to understand who your customers are and what they want from your business. This will help you create a unique experience that appeals to your target audience, which will help you build a long-term relationship with them and increase the likelihood of them returning. You can find out your target audience by researching your competitors, noting what drives people to make a purchase, or asking your current customers what they like about your business. This will help you to create a list of the key characteristics your target audience has, and then you can use this to inform your content and marketing strategies.

Understand the importance of SEO

If you create a website for your emerging online business, SEO is the best way to get the website traffic you need, so you must understand the importance of SEO. Thanks to the internet, today’s consumers want to find the businesses they want with the information they need, and the way to do that is through search. The search brings people to your website, so if you want people to find you on Google, you need to optimize your website for search.

While your website’s primary goal is to provide a great user experience, SEO helps you increase the number of visitors to your website so you can generate more revenue. Search engine algorithms determine which websites appear at the top of search results, so if your website appears on the first page of search results, more people will find your website and visit it. The higher your website appears on the page, the greater the number of visitors to your website. The more visitors you have, the larger your online business can become.

Adequate capital

The first few months of every online business are usually tougher than most people expect. However, if you have enough financial buffer, you’ll be able to keep your business afloat and survive the toughest times. You’ll also be able to grow your business faster than most people, which is often the difference between a successful business and an average one.

Most people fail because they don’t have enough money to keep their business afloat when the money comes in. This will also allow you to fine-tune your online marketing and further build your brand. In the long run, this will be beneficial to your business. You won’t be stuck in the red for too long. Instead, you’ll be able to build your business and turn a profit slowly.

Your first few months will likely be filled with basic operations such as setting up your website, writing content, and marketing. Even though this is tedious, these things will help you build a solid foundation for your business. If you don’t have the money to pay for these services, you’ll need to learn how to do these things yourself. This will save you time and help you learn new skills.

Top 5 Online Business Ideas that Work Well (Our Recommendation)

Freelance writing

Freelance writing is one of the most popular digital skills to have in today’s world and a great way to turn your passion into a money-making enterprise. Whether you want to make a full-time income from your writing or just have something on the side to make some extra cash, freelance writing is a great way to do it. The great thing about freelance writing is that you can do it anywhere and whenever you want. You can write from the comfort of your home while also making your own hours. You can also do freelance writing while you’re on the go and fit it into your schedule when you have time.

As a freelancer, you get to work on your own schedule, set your own rates, and craft pieces that you’re passionate about. One of the best things about being a freelance writer is the freedom to choose your own projects and clients. So, what are the pros and cons of freelance writing? Let's find out together.


You can work from anywhere

If you wake up one morning and decide to work all day in your bathroom with only a top and casual shorts, no one will hold you by your neck for it as long as you’re doing what you’re supposed to do - that’s one of the perks of freelance writing. Freedom is a huge part of the job; you can decide when, where to write, and who to work with. It’s a lot of fun as long as you remember to keep your life balanced and maintain productivity.

You get to set your rate

As a freelancer, you can set your own rates, which means clients will pay you by what you charge, although you may have to work with their budgets sometimes. You can also negotiate with clients to get a better deal, and if you’re working on a long-term project, you may get paid a percentage of the company’s revenue. This will vary depending on your industry, but the goal is to make a profit you can reinvest into your business.


No job security

Most projects you’ll get to work on as a freelance writer are short-term and can be halted anytime. This is one of the downsides of being a freelance writer. Another downside is that you’ll be working on several writing projects at any time. This can be good, as you can constantly improve your skills and work on different writing styles. It’s also bad, as you might not have enough time to devote to a particular style or genre. Most of the time, this isn’t a problem, but it can be difficult to balance your writing projects when you’re working as a freelance writer.


E-commerce is another booming business in Kenya. More than 10 million online shoppers are in the country, and the trend is expected to continue. In fact, e-commerce sales are expected to double in the country over the next two years, according to a recent report from eMarketer. One of the main reasons for this growth is the country’s internet penetration, which is among the highest in Africa. 42% of the population had internet access in January 2022, which amounted to over 23 million people, and most people have mobile phones with internet access.

If you choose to start an e-commerce business, we recommend using the Shopify platform. It provides everything you need to get started. IntaSend also supports Card and M-Pesa payments for Shopify. Please check it out here.


Low startup cost

Unlike brick and mortar stores, you don’t need to pay any rent before you have an online store, which means you can start with low capital and build it from the ground up. You also don’t need to worry about a store location - you can operate from anywhere. Most people start with a basic e-commerce platform to get them up and running and provide them with the ability to accept payments and manage inventory. Over time, they build their own platform and hire employees to improve their business and capabilities. Because you don’t need to worry about a physical location, you can run your store 24 hours a day, which gives you a competitive advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

Affordable employees

You can also scale quickly and manage your inventory without spending much money on a physical location. You can hire people part-time or full-time to help you manage your business. This allows you to scale as needed, saving you time and money in the long run. This also helps to keep your costs down, which allows you to offer your customers the best experience possible and keep them coming back.


High competition

As good as the prospect of an e-commerce business is, you need to be ready for the high competition. Finding customers won’t be easy, and you’ll have to be creative to stand out from the noise. One way to do this is by building a suite of products and services directly impacting the customer experience, such as shipping and returns. This will demonstrate your capabilities meaningfully and show that you can add value to the customer experience. It will also help you build a network of suppliers and partners who can help you scale your business quickly.

Web development

Web development is another online business you can venture into in Kenya - one of the most lucrative. You can start a web development business from the comfort of your home, and there are several ways you can go about it. You can either take on web design and development projects as a freelancer or set up a website design and development company to provide clients services. You can build websites using frameworks such as WordPress and offer web hosting and domain registration services. You can also offer web design services and help businesses design websites and online stores.

As the internet continues to expand and change, you can expect to see more and more people come online, which translates to more customers for web developers. As such, there are many ways you can get started in this trade - from working for an established web development firm to becoming a freelancer. Either way, you have a great opportunity to make a lot of money.


Competitive salary

Web development is one of the most in-demand skills in the world, and the fact that it pays a lot of money makes it a great career choice. Not only can web developers make a decent living, but they also get to design and build web pages, apps, and other websites that millions of people use every day. The best part is that becoming a web developer doesn't require a lot of education. Anyone can learn the basics and get a job, and more and more companies are looking to hire people who can build their websites and web applications. The best web developers are also constantly learning new skills and improving existing ones.

Several niches to choose from

The web development space is wide, and there are a lot of several niches to choose from and become an expert in. There are several languages, so you can choose to be an expert in one, although that is very unlikely if you want to be a successful web developer. Most people in the business have this all-around knowledge. They are constantly required to use more than one programming language, so being an expert in just one language is not an option.

There is HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other languages. The best web developers will have mastered multiple languages, but most of the time, you’ll only need to know HTML and CSS. These two languages can help you build basic websites and web applications. They allow you to add and style content on a web page and can also be used to build dynamic web applications.


Heavy workload

If you’re considering web development as a career, you should be ready to deal with a heavy workload because that’s all the job is about. You are tasked with creating and maintaining websites in web development, which means you will work with many different programs. You will also be doing a lot of research, which means you will need a lot of patience. The industry is also very competitive, so you must be persistent in getting a job. You should also be ready to deal with a lot of stress because web development is a very demanding industry.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing is also an important part of every successful online business, which makes it a big player in the industry. The Internet has allowed small businesses to reach new customers, build a brand, and reach a global audience. But digital marketing is more than just advertising. It’s a set of strategies that help businesses generate more leads, increase sales, and build brand awareness. It’s the perfect way to stand out from the crowd and build a strong online presence.

The digital world constantly evolves, so you'll always learn new things regardless of your experience. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the latest trends in digital marketing. The industry is constantly changing, and staying current is the best way to stay ahead.



Being a digital marketer means you have the flexibility to work whenever you want, from wherever you want, as long as you don’t disappoint your clients. You can work remotely when you want to and still produce great work for your clients. Remote work allows you to get more done and allows you to be where your passion is.

Meaningful business connections

As a digital marketer, you will be connected with people and businesses that can bring you a fortune in the future - real connections. You will create and nurture relationships with customers and partners and learn how to build a foundation for the digital future. You'll be at the forefront of the newest marketing and technology trends and will design and build marketing systems that deliver results and stay relevant in a constantly changing digital world. You'll make complex marketing technology accessible to the next generation of marketers and build the brand of the company you help build.


Interaction with impatient customers

If you’re a digital marketer, people who hire you expect you to do some magic and provide quick results, which is not how things work. This means you have a high chance of landing impatient customers that will test your professionalism. Your clients will be skeptical initially, but with time they’ll understand that you’re the right partner for them. It’s important to remember that with each new customer, you’re establishing a new relationship that goes beyond delivering results. It’s about proving you’re a professional and that you can be trusted. The more you get to know your clients, the better you’ll understand their needs and the better you’ll be able to serve them.

YouTube content creation

Everyone wants to be a YouTube content creator because they’ve seen how much money people who do it make from it. But the truth is, it’s a lot of hard work to produce good content. You must develop good ideas, find a decent camera to film with, and edit your video. Most people don’t have the time or patience to do this, so they just post their videos without editing. This is a bad move because not only will your videos look bad, but they’ll also lose a lot of potential viewers.


Videos can go viral quickly

Being a YouTube content creator means your videos can go viral quickly if they’re good enough. You can go viral in a matter of minutes. But if you want to build a long-term brand with a large audience, you must consistently produce high-quality content. This is where creating a YouTube channel comes in. You can use it to share videos of yourself performing, speaking, and other personal content.

You can make a lot of money

YouTube content creation is a high-risk, high-reward business, so there’s no limit to how much money you can make. If you can get a few thousand clicks on your channel, you can make a living as a YouTuber. But to make real money, you need to build an audience. This means putting in extra work, investing in your channel, and maybe even giving up some of your free time. But the rewards are worth it.


High cost of creating quality video content

Creating a high-quality video costs a lot of money, especially if you don’t already have the tools (camera, lighting, etc.). But there are ways to make your videos look professional with little or no investment. For example, simple video editing software can add music, transitions, and other effects.

Parting Words

The internet has paved the way for many positive inventions in our world. People now make good money online, thanks to the internet, as there are many online businesses to consider today. One of the most popular online businesses in Kenya is e-commerce, where people sell products online to customers. The internet has made it possible for people to make a lot of money, as the opportunities are endless.

Before venturing into any of these online businesses, you must know their pros and cons. Each platform has unique advantages and disadvantages. Some are better suited for starters, while others are better at providing a wider variety of products and services. In this article, we have discussed the pros and cons of the top online businesses in Kenya. We've also discussed some of the factors you must consider before venturing into any of these online businesses.

Cover Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

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