5 Most Profitable Small Businesses to Start in Nairobi

Are you looking for profitable small businesses to start in Nairobi? You have come to the right place.

Starting a small business in Nairobi can be an incredibly rewarding experience. With its vibrant culture and dynamic economy, the East African country provides the perfect environment for entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas and carve out a successful path. 

But with so many opportunities available, it can be difficult to know which businesses have the most potential for profitability in 2023.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 5 most profitable small businesses to start in Nairobi in 2023. Read on to learn more about these lucrative opportunities and how you can get started.

Overview of Kenya’s Economy 

The Kenyan economy is considered to be a developing market economy, with a market-based economic structure that is characterized by a well-diversified mix of services, manufacturing, and agriculture. The country has a strong focus on industrialization and is a leader in the region in terms of economic growth.

Kenya’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is estimated to be around $110.52 billion, making it the fourth-largest economy in East Africa behind Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. The country’s main exports are agricultural products, including tea, coffee, horticultural produce, and flowers. Kenya is also one of the world’s largest exporters of cut flowers, with over 60 percent of the world’s cut roses originating in the country.

Benefits of Starting a business in Kenya 

Starting a business in Nairobi can be a great opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to make their mark on the world. Its diverse culture, climate, and geography provide a unique environment. With a population of around 49 million people, Kenya is one of the most populous countries in Africa, and the economy is growing. This makes it an ideal place to start a business.

The Kenyan government has a supportive attitude towards entrepreneurs, with the recently launched Vision 2030 initiative providing a roadmap for economic development. This includes tax incentives, legal reforms, and improved access to finance. With the help of these incentives, businesses can start and grow in Kenya with relative ease.

Another benefit of starting a business in Kenya is access to a young, talented, and educated workforce. The country’s literacy rate is among the highest in Africa, and the number of graduates from universities and colleges is increasing quickly. This provides a ready pool of skilled workers for businesses looking to expand operations in Kenya.

The government is also investing heavily in infrastructure development, which is critical for businesses to succeed. The country has been modernizing ports and airports, building roads, and improving telecommunications. This creates an environment that is conducive to business growth, as businesses have access to the resources they need to succeed.

The Kenyan economy is heavily reliant on agriculture, with 70% of the population employed in this sector. This makes it a great place to start a business in the agricultural industry. There are plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, as the government is dedicated to encouraging foreign investment.

Lastly, the Kenyan government has made it easy for businesses to access financing. Banks and other financial institutions are eager to lend money to businesses, and the government has introduced several initiatives to make it easier for businesses to get the funding they need. This allows entrepreneurs to start and grow a business without having to worry about accessing the necessary capital.

Top 5 Most Profitable Small Businesses to Start in Kenya in 2023 

#1. Poultry Farming in Nairobi

Poultry Farming in Nairobi
poultry farming

Poultry farming is a highly lucrative business in Nairobi, with the potential to be a major source of income for farmers. Businesses operating in this sector have seen tremendous growth over the past couple of years, with the industry now being one of the most profitable agricultural ventures in the country.

Understanding the capital requirement for setting up a poultry farming business in Kenya is important. if you’re interested in running a smaller-scale operation, you can start with a smaller amount of capital and invest in the necessary equipment and supplies.

Once the capital requirement is established, the next step is to analyze the profitability of poultry farming in Kenya. This will involve calculating the cost of production and the expected return on investment. This is often done by comparing production costs to the potential returns from the sale of eggs and meat products. 

It is also important to consider the labor costs associated with the business. Labor costs are typically calculated on an hourly basis, with the cost of each worker’s time being taken into account. In addition, the cost of hiring additional labor may also be taken into account.

Finally, the other factor that can affect the profitability of poultry farming in Kenya is the availability of suppliers. The availability of reliable suppliers is essential to ensure that the poultry business runs smoothly. Without suppliers, it is difficult to source the necessary materials and equipment, which would ultimately affect the profitability of the business.

#2. Milk ATMs

Milk ATMs have become a key part of the dairy industry in Kenya, providing a convenient, cost-effective way for farmers to access fresh milk and other dairy products. As the business of milk ATM owners continues to grow, it is important to understand the capital requirements and profitability of this business in Kenya.

First, it is important to understand the capital requirements for a milk ATM business in Kenya. The cost of acquiring and maintaining an ATM can be quite expensive, as the machines require regular maintenance and repairs. The cost of rent for the location of the ATM, insurance for the machine, and other related costs can also be significant. Additionally, since the ATM is usually located in a rural area, the cost of electricity, water, and other utility costs can also add to the cost.

The profitability of a milk ATM business in Nairobi can vary depending on a variety of factors. For example, the location of the ATM can have a significant impact on its profitability. If the ATM is located in an area where there is a large number of potential customers, then the business may be more profitable. On the other hand, if the ATM is located in an area with fewer potential customers, then the profitability may be reduced.

In addition to the costs associated with the ATM, the profitability of a milk ATM business in Kenya is also affected by the availability of milk. Milk ATMs in Kenya typically offer a variety of dairy products, including cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and various other types of locally made cheeses. 

In most cases, the availability of these products will depend on the season, as well as the availability of local farmers. The quality of dairy products also significantly impacts the profitability of the business, as customers may be more likely to purchase products of higher quality.

#3. Green Grocery Business in Nairobi

Green Grocery Business in Nairobi
grocery store

Greengrocery businesses in Nairobi are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional supermarkets and other food outlets, due to their focus on providing fresh produce and healthy options. With the growing demand for high-quality, organic, and locally sourced produce, green groceries can provide a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to capitalize on these trends and turn a profit.

Capital requirements for green groceries in Kenya vary greatly, depending on the size and scope of the business.

Opening a small green grocery will require a capital investment of around Ksh 150,000  for the initial setup of the store, including inventory, staff, and licenses. If the greengrocery is looking to expand, it may need to invest in additional equipment, such as refrigeration units or cold storage facilities.

In terms of profitability, green groceries have several advantages over traditional supermarkets and food outlets. For example, the cost of goods sold is much lower because green groceries source their produce directly from local farmers and do not need to source products from large distributors. 

This can result in a reduction in overhead costs and a higher profit margin. Additionally, green groceries can develop relationships with local farmers, allowing them to negotiate better prices and ensure the quality of the products they sell.

In addition to cost savings and the potential for increased profits, green groceries also provide other benefits to their customers. By providing a wide selection of healthy, organic, and locally sourced food, green groceries can cater to the needs of their customers, helping to create a loyal customer base. 

Additionally, green groceries can provide a unique shopping experience, allowing customers to interact with knowledgeable staff and learn more about the products they buy. Therefore this is one of the most profitable businesses to start in Kenya.

#4. Manicure/Pedicure Business in Nairobi

Manicure/Pedicure Business in Nairobi
lady doing manicure to a client

Manicures and Pedicures are services that are growing in popularity in Kenya and that’s why its in our list of the 5 most profitable businesses to start in Kenya. As more people become aware of the many benefits of having proper hand and foot care, more and more people are investing in Manicure and Pedicure services. As a result, the demand for Manicure and Pedicure services in Kenya is rising.

However, starting and running a Manicure/Pedicure business in Nairobi is not as straightforward as it may appear. It is essential to understand such a business’s capital requirements and profitability before embarking on such a venture.

A Manicure/Pedicure business requires an initial investment in equipment and supplies. The equipment required for a Manicure/Pedicure business includes a manicure/pedicure table, towels, chairs, a nail dryer, nail polishes, and other supplies. Investing in quality products that will last for a long time is also important.

The cost of equipment and supplies will vary depending on the type of Manicure/Pedicure business you are running.

A basic setup can cost anywhere between Ksh.50,000 to Ksh.150,000. This cost can increase depending on the number of services offered and the quality of equipment and supplies used.

The profitability of such a business depends on many factors, such as the quality of services offered, the number of customers served, and the cost of supplies.

The cost of supplies is an important factor to consider when determining the profitability of a Manicure/Pedicure business.

The cost of supplies can vary depending on the type of services offered and the supplies’ quality.

The profitability of a Manicure/Pedicure business also depends on the number of customers served. The more customers a business has, the more profitable it is likely to be.

#5. Car Wash Business as a Profitable Business in Nairobi

Most Profitable Small Businesses to Start in Nairobi
Two men washing a car

When starting a car wash business in Nairobi, capital requirements are often the biggest obstacle entrepreneurs have to overcome.

With the right planning, however, starting a car wash business in Kenya with minimal capital is possible and still profitable.

The first step when starting a car wash business in Nairobi is determining the size of your car wash facility. The larger the facility, the more capital you will need to open it.

Once you have decided how big your facility should be, you must decide what car wash system you will use. 

The most popular car wash systems in Kenya are automated and manual. Automated car washes require less labor and are often more profitable but require a larger capital investment upfront.

The next step is to identify the proper location for your car wash business.

In Kenya, car wash businesses are most successful in urban areas, where there are a large number of vehicles and customers. Additionally, the closer you are to major roads and highways, the more likely you are to attract customers.

Once you have established the location for your car wash business, you must decide what services you will offer. A full-service car wash includes interior and exterior detailing, waxing, and cleaning services. If you are looking for a more profitable business model, you might want to consider a limited-service car wash, which focuses on exterior detailing and waxing services.

In terms of capital requirements, opening a car wash business in Kenya requires substantial capital. You will need to purchase the necessary equipment, such as pressure washers and waxing machines, as well as supplies, such as detergents, cleaning agents, and wax. 

You will also need to hire qualified employees to run the car wash. Additionally, you will need to lease or purchase a property for the car wash business.

Despite the high capital requirements, car wash businesses in Nairobi can be very profitable. In addition to offering services, car washes often generate additional income from selling products, such as car care products and accessories. Additionally, car washes may generate revenue from advertising, such as signage and promotional materials.


In conclusion, there are many profitable businesses in Nairobi, but it is important to understand the industry and the type of business that you want to pursue before you invest your money.

Each industry and business model has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to carefully consider which type of business is the right fit for you.

Starting a successful business in Kenya can be overwhelming.

But it can be done with the right information and attitude. Things get better when you take time to research the market, plan your finances, choose the right location, know your regulations, network, leverage technology, develop good customer service, and invest in marketing and advertising.

There are many resources available to entrepreneurs in Kenya.

From access to capital and talent to advice and guidance, to technology solutions, entrepreneurs in Kenya have access to the resources they need to succeed. With the right resources, entrepreneurs in Kenya can take their businesses to the next level and become leaders in the African digital economy.

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