Starting a small business in Kenya appears easy and hard at the same time. Easy because you see people doing it, hard because you see some people failing. That is entrepreneurship, it requires a tough mind, persistence and good planning. Part of that planning is having enough capital for the venture you choose. You should also consider whether you will be working fulltime on your business or it would be a side hustle.

Since capital is a major factor hindering most people, this article looks at small business ideas you can start with as little as 10K or less. As times change, you definitely have to be innovative to run a successful and profitable business. Some of the best business ideas for 2020 are:

  1. Ecommerce shop
  2. hairdressing and barbershop business
  3. Air BnB facilities
  4. Car wash business
  5. Styling business
  6. Dividends investments
  7. Become a digital marketing consultancy
  8. Freelance resume writing services
  9. Cleaning service business
  10. Manicure/pedicure business

E-commerce shop

How to start an ecommerce shop is definitely on many people’s minds. In today’s digital world, you can start a business from the comfort of your home, right on your smartphone. It is not a must for you to have an e-commerce website to start and run this business. Use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as a marketplace this 2020. An e-commerce shop always has potential to scale because more and more people are shopping online. Things you can sell on a social media ecommerce shop include services such as writing, web design, products such as spare parts, shoes, upcycled second hand furniture, actually anything you can think of has a market out there.

Operating a hairdressing and barbershop business

Starting a salon or a barbershop doesn’t require a lot of money as would other businesses. A good shaving machine costs around KES. 5000. You would definitely require mirrors, a chair and some shaving creams. The secret is to start small. Look for a small room somewhere that goes for a round KES 2000 and start with low prices. There are always customers who cannot afford high prices.

To run a salon, the basic equipment is a blow dryer. But your skill set is all you need. With this business, you do not necessarily need a permanent location. You can offer your services to clients in the comfort of their homes. The mobile business model offers convenience to your clients. If you do a good job you will certainly get referrals.


Most Kenyans are known to have two homes, and rarely use one of the homes apart from during holidays. An apartment or a house that you rarely use or do not use at all is what you need for an AirBnB business. You just sign up on the AirBnB website and register as a host. You can charge per night depending on how nice your amenities are. Facilities such as nice furniture, Wi-Fi, a pool, hot running water will motivate more people to choose your AirBnB compared to others. Remember some people also just want a quiet place to escape from all the mentioned things, tailor your marketing to that angle if you do not have them.

 Car wash

Car wash business is huge business you can start with just your bucket and a pail of water. Many car owners prefer to have someone wash their vehicle as it saves them a lot of time. This business thrives depending on your location. If you wash 15 cars at KES.200 per car, this means you make KES.3,000 a day. If you can afford a car wash pump, the better for you. Have you seen all those young people washing cars on roadside where they do not even have to pay for space?

Styling business

Running a styling business means you get out of your closet. It needs confidence. Those TV shows hosts, celebrities, public speakers, and just style enthusiasts have their stylists. All you need to do is create a portfolio showcasing who your style. Have yourself or friends be your models and show the world your capability. Laos, style doesn’t have to be expensive Gucci. Did you know you could style your friends using second hand pieces, and new ones which can either be bought or loaned?

Dividends investments

This is a long term investment business plan which is good for people who have a source of regular income. How do you invest in dividends? You buy shares in performing companies like Equity and get paid dividends from the profit that the company makes. You become a shareholder and that means that you are entitled to dividends every year. This is a good business idea for a side hustle and is a perfect source of passive income. You can buy a number of shares and then re-invest the dividends and with time you will have for yourself a big investment portfolio.

Become a digital marketing consultant

Do you have skills in using platforms such as Google Trends, SEO, Google Analytics and Google Ad Words. Digital marketing is a concept many businesses and companies are embracing. Digital marketing is one of the most sought after skills in 2020 and you do not have to go to school to be good in it. You could set yourself up as an SEO consultant and help businesses create content and optimize it. This is one of the online businesses that you can do from home.

Freelance resume writing services

Many people have difficulty writing amazing resumes. All you have to do is learn how best to write a CV. Learning resources can be found on the intern, then you can use your skill to run a successful business. Build a broad customer base with recent graduates who are not getting to the interview stage and help them spruce up their CVs for a small amount.

Cleaning service business

Running a cleaning service is one of the most profitable businesses you can ever think of. The CEO of Parapet, Alex Nyaga only had KES 10,000 when he started and he scaled from there to being one of the biggest cleaning service providers. He started by hiring cleaning ladies to clean houses in estates at a charge of 1000 shillings. Shortly after, his business had grown and he was able to register a company and now makes over 15 million in a month. It can be done.

Manicure/pedicure business

The beauty industry is prime for investment. If you have little capital you can dive head first into this sector and make money from many services. One such sector is the manicure and pedicure one. You could do house calls for this business as well and the equipment you need does not cost that much. What you need most is creativity and your customers will keep coming back.

In a nutshell,

You don’t have to wait until you have saved hundreds of thousands to start a profitable business. Start with what you have and then work towards making that business grow. No matter how small it is, with determination and hard work, any business has the potential to grow.