13 Side Hustles To Do in Kenya (With Little or No Startup Costs)

After posting the piece on 5 Things To Do If You Get Fired (you can find the post here), it got me thinking a bit more about my closing thought on taking up a side hustle. I challenged myself to come up with a list of ideas for side hustles and/or small businesses that (a) are likely to succeed and (b) have low start-up capital (c) do not call for complex business planning.

Successful entrepreneurs agree that for a business to succeed, there has to be a need. The business must be a response to a need. If no one needs it (it being the service or product), the business is dead from the word go.

I wanted ideas with better success rate than the rabbit or quail farming. (Whatever happened to the quail farming craze, by the way?). I asked the question “what are people in need of and how can that need be met?”

What is the one thing that most people are in need of? Time. If you can come up with an idea that saves or frees someone’s time, you are probably looking at a great side hustle. Add to that reliability, honesty and integrity and are bound to find someone who is willing to pay you for your services.  

  1. Cleaning – businesses and homes. Businesses that do not have in-house janitorial services usually have employees taking turns to clean the premises as additional responsibilities. You can offer your services to deep clean the premises one or twice a month. Same for homes; they may have live-in house-help, but you can offer services to deep clean areas that do not get attention like furniture, windows, bathrooms, doors, ceiling and fans (cobwebs and dust). Do a great job with one client and word of mouth will get you more clients.
  2. Organizing – businesses and homes. Are you good at organizing and arranging? Offer your services to a business that is getting buried in paper. Develop a filing system for them. Scan hard copies and organize an electronic filing system for homes and businesses. Talking of homes, you can offer services to arrange and organize stores, bookshelves and pantries as part of cleaning or as a separate service.
  3. Book keeping and tax filing. Small businesses do not have the money to hire big name accounting firms, or to hire an accountant. If that is your area, offer your book keeping services at a price that is more competitive. Tax returns are complex for many people. You may find people who are willing to pay someone to do their tax returns. If you prove reliable, you can be sure they will not look elsewhere next time. Nothing like a happy client!
  4. Tutor. Can you help kids with homework? Can you teach? All you need is to pass out handbills in your neighbourhood offering your services. Start with friends and families that you know.
  5. Handyman aka The Odd-Jobs person. If you are good at repairing, maintenance, fixing things…there is always someone with something that is broken. One night a few years ago, we had a rain storm that caused our fence to fall. In the morning, two young men knocked on our front door and offered to fix the fence for a pay. I was relieved that I did not have to go looking for someone. I gave them the money for the materials needed, they purchased the material and within a few hours, the fence was up. That is a handyman. They fix whatever needs fixing.
  6. Cleaning windows. Sure, windows in high-rise buildings will require more than Windex and a cleaning cloth. However, for single story businesses and homes, window cleaning can be done without any special equipment. Like cleaning, you can offer services once a month or as often as required.
  7. Running Errands. This is one of the easiest hustles to pick up. All you need is to be someone that can be trusted. And there is no limit to the kind of errands one can run. Think of families where both parents work long hours. They would likely pay someone to do groceries for them.
  8. Personal chef. Are you good in the kitchen? Someone may be willing to pay you for it. Show off your culinary creativity to someone who is hosting guests. They will be free to do what hosts should do – spend time with the guests, not in the kitchen. This is a side hustle with zero startup capital. Just show up, cook, lay out the food, clean up and leave with hard cash.
  9. Baking cakes/snacks. I know. There are countless wedding and birthday cake businesses. Who needs one more Akinyi SuperCakes? Well, for starters, the reason why there are so many bakers is that there are equally many cake lovers. But how about specializing in cupcakes for corporate social events? Or baking healthier cakes? How about making samosas? I have a good friend who makes samosas and packs them (uncooked) in batches of fifty. Her customers freeze them or order for events. There are countless outlets selling samosas. What she focuses on is the quality of meat she uses. She uses only high quality steak. That is what keeps the customers coming back.
  10. Car detailing. This is my side hustle. I enjoy detailing a car. Anyone can wash a car and slam on the polish and wax. Few people can really detail a car. It is hard work and it takes a lot of time. If you can master the art (yes, it is an art), you will find people willing to pay you for it. Add more value by take the services to your customer, e.g., detailing the car at their residence, and you are in business.
  11. Content Writer. If you are a good writer, you can write content for businesses websites, newsletters, or promotional materials. The company supplies the raw information, and you do your magic.
  12. Personal Trainer. If working out is your thing and you are a people person, why not consider being a personal trainer? It can be in a gym, but you need not limit yourself to gyms. My former employer had an employees’ wellness and fitness program. They made conference rooms available at certain times for exercise and had trainers who conducting group fitness classes.
  13. After-schools Kids’ Program. Guess what the kids who get home at 1.pm do in the afternoons? That is right – watch TV! The parents are still busy at work and the house helps with housework. Design a great After School Kids’ Club in the neighbourhood, where you have kids engaging in creative activities and games. Throw in help with homework and you will have parents loving you and paying you for it.

If you know of other viable side hustles, or have tried one, share in the comments section.

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