11 Profitable Businesses to Start with 20K in Kenya

11 Profitable Businesses to Start with 20K in Kenya

Are you a Kenyan entrepreneur ready to take your business goals to the next level? With 20,000 Kenyan Shillings (approximately 160 USD) as seed capital, the following 11 business ideas offer greater flexibility and potential to scale:

1. Small Fast Food Restaurant

The demand for quick, affordable food is constant in Kenya. With 20k, rent a small shop in a busy location and offer a simple menu specializing in popular items like chapati, burgers, fries, and grilled options. Stand out with unique sauces or signature dishes!

  • Tips:
    • Focus on speed and quality for quick customer turnover.
    • Partner with delivery apps to reach a wider customer base.
    • Maintain impeccable hygiene and food safety standards.

2. E-commerce Store

Tap into Kenya’s growing e-commerce scene. With 20k, develop an online store utilizing platforms like Shopify or Jumia. Source popular products (electronics, fashion, home goods) or target a specific niche to become an expert seller.

  • Tips:
    • Find reliable suppliers with competitive pricing.
    • Master clear product descriptions and invest in good photography.
    • Implement a seamless and reliable delivery or shipping solution.

3. Small-Scale Farming with High-Value Crops

Move beyond traditional crops with 20k! Lease a piece of land and specialize in crops like strawberries, herbs, exotic vegetables, or mushrooms. These fetch a higher price and cater to hotels, restaurants, and health-conscious consumers.

  • Tips:
    • Focus on quality cultivation and organic certification for a premium.
    • Sell directly to buyers or partner with specialty food shops.
    • Develop a brand presence to establish strong recognition.

4. Car Wash and Detailing Services

Upgrade your car wash business with 20k in Kenya. Rent space in a prime location, invest in a pressure washer, professional detailing equipment, and quality detergents. Offer packages from a basic wash to full interior and exterior cleaning services for premium pricing.

  • Tips:
    • Train your staff on detailing techniques for high standards.
    • Build loyalty with subscription discounts for regular customers.
    • Market directly to businesses and owners of high-end vehicles.

5. Motorcycle Bodaboda Business

Motorcycles (bodabodas) are a popular mode of transport in Kenya. Purchase a new or reliable used motorcycle with your 20k and hire a driver with a proper license, or operate it yourself for direct profit.

  • Tips:
    • Ensure the motorcycle is regularly serviced and complies with regulations.
    • Establish fair wages for your rider and incentivize good performance.
    • As your business grows, invest in additional motorcycles to scale.

6. Printing and Graphic Design Services

With 20k, invest in a quality printer, cutting machine, design software, and materials. Offer services like printing business cards, flyers, posters, branding materials, and customized t-shirts or mugs to individuals and businesses in your area.

  • Tips:
    • Take courses to build your design skills and portfolio.
    • Showcase your work online to attract clients.
    • Partner with a photographer for comprehensive business packages.

7. Water Vending Business

Set up a water vending station in a densely populated area. Invest in a large tank, filtration system, and dispensing mechanism with your 20k. Source water from a reliable supplier, and sell directly to residents for clean drinking and household use.

  • Tips:
    • Keep your water quality consistent to build trust.
    • Offer convenient opening hours to cater to working-class residents.
    • Expand locations as your business grows.

8. Bakery and Pastries

Satisfy the sweet cravings of your neighborhood! With 20k in Kenya, rent a small bakery space, purchase essential equipment, and master the art of popular baked goods like cakes, bread, cookies, or mandazi. Market to local cafes, stores, and through social media.

  • Tips:
    • Focus on perfecting a few signature baked goods.
    • Cater to events with beautiful tiered cake and pastry spreads.
    • Develop a loyal customer base with fresh, delicious goods.

9. Professional Photography and Videography

Upgrade your camera gear and editing software with a 20k investment. Offer premium photography or videography services for weddings, events, corporate videos, product shoots, or even real estate listings.

10. Event Planning and Management

If you have excellent organizational and networking skills, launch a small event management company with 20k. Invest in basic equipment rentals and start by focusing on birthdays, corporate parties, and smaller gatherings.

  • Tips:
    • Build relationships with caterers, decorators, and venues.
    • Market your services with a great portfolio showcasing successful events.
    • Focus on creative themes and personalized event experiences.

11. Small-scale Import and Export

Kenya’s position as a trading hub offers opportunities in small-scale importing and exporting. With 20k, source sought-after products locally or from neighboring countries. Identify a niche market and handle logistics to export for a profit margin.

  • Tips:
    • Thoroughly research import/export regulations.
    • Partner with a local freight and customs handling company.
    • Target unique, handcrafted, or hard-to-find items for market appeal.

Additional Tips for Success When Starting a Business with 20k in Kenya

  • Mentorship Matters: Seek advice from successful entrepreneurs in your chosen industry.
  • Formalize Your Business: Register your business for long-term credibility and access to potential future funding.
  • Technology is Your Friend: Implement online tools for accounting, marketing, and customer relationship management.


Having 20,000 Kenyan Shillings gives you fantastic flexibility to bring your business dreams to life. Choose an idea that aligns with your strengths and the changing market trends, and put in the hard work to build a venture that will reward you for years to come.

I’d love to hear which business idea excites you most! Let me know in the comments below.

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