What is the best business to start in slums in Kenya?


Starting a business in slums in Kenya can be both challenging and rewarding. Slums are characterized by high levels of poverty and limited resources, making it crucial to choose a business that not only meets the needs of the community but also has the potential for growth and profitability. In this article, we will explore some of the best business ideas that can thrive in slums in Kenya.

1. Food and Beverage

The food and beverage industry is a promising sector in slums due to the consistent demand for affordable and accessible meals. Consider starting a small food stall or a mobile food cart that offers a variety of local dishes at affordable prices. This business can provide a steady income and create employment opportunities for local residents. Here are three paragraphs on expanding this idea further:

  1. Catering Services: In addition to running a food stall or mobile cart, you can also consider offering catering services for events and parties in the slum community. Many residents may require food services for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and community gatherings. By providing catering services, you can tap into this market and expand your customer base. It is essential to offer a diverse menu that caters to different dietary preferences and cultural traditions. Collaborating with local farmers and suppliers can ensure a steady supply of fresh ingredients, supporting the local economy.
  2. Food Delivery: Another avenue to explore in the food and beverage industry is food delivery services. With the rise of online platforms and mobile applications, you can establish a delivery service that brings affordable and nutritious meals directly to the doorsteps of slum residents. This convenience can attract busy individuals who may not have the time or means to visit food stalls or carts. Implementing a user-friendly ordering system and ensuring timely deliveries can help build a loyal customer base. It is crucial to establish partnerships with local food vendors and maintain high food safety standards.
  3. Community Food Cooperative: Consider establishing a community food cooperative where local residents can come together to contribute resources and share the benefits. This cooperative can provide a platform for collective purchasing of food items, reducing costs and improving access to a wider variety of products. Additionally, the cooperative can organize cooking workshops and nutrition education programs to promote healthy eating habits within the community. By fostering a sense of ownership and cooperation, the cooperative can empower individuals and strengthen community ties.

2. Clothing and Tailoring

Another potential business idea in slums is clothing and tailoring. Many residents in slums face challenges in accessing affordable and quality clothing. Opening a small clothing store or a tailoring shop can cater to the needs of the community. Here are three paragraphs on expanding this idea further:

  1. Clothing Store: In addition to offering tailoring services, you can establish a clothing store that provides affordable and fashionable clothing options for slum residents. Collaborating with local artisans and designers can enhance the variety of products offered, showcasing unique designs and incorporating traditional craftsmanship. It is essential to understand the fashion preferences and cultural norms of the community to ensure that the clothing store meets their needs. Implementing a flexible payment system, such as layaway or installment plans, can make clothing more accessible to residents with limited financial resources.
  2. Renting and Exchange Program: Consider implementing a clothing renting and exchange program within the slum community. This program allows residents to borrow clothing items for special occasions or daily wear, eliminating the need for expensive one-time purchases. By establishing a system that promotes the sharing of clothing resources, you can reduce waste and create a sustainable business model. It is crucial to maintain the quality and cleanliness of the rented clothing items, ensuring customer satisfaction and repeat business.
  3. Skills Training: Alongside running a clothing store or tailoring shop, you can offer skills training programs in sewing and garment production. By empowering local residents with valuable skills, you not only contribute to their personal development but also create a pool of potential employees or entrepreneurs within the community. These training programs can focus on both traditional and modern techniques, incorporating sustainable practices and ethical fashion principles. Providing access to training resources and mentorship can help individuals pursue careers in the fashion industry and potentially establish their own businesses.

3. Beauty and Personal Care

Beauty and personal care services are in high demand in slum communities. Consider opening a beauty salon or barbershop that offers haircuts, hairstyling, nail care, and skincare services. Here are three paragraphs on expanding this idea further:

  1. Natural and Organic Products: Stand out from other beauty salons by offering natural and organic beauty products that cater to the specific needs of the slum community. Many residents may prioritize affordable and chemical-free options for their hair and skincare routines. Collaborating with local suppliers and producers of natural ingredients can ensure a sustainable supply chain. Additionally, educating customers about the benefits of natural products and providing personalized consultations can help build trust and loyalty.
  2. Mobile Beauty Services: Extend your reach beyond a physical salon by offering mobile beauty services. This allows you to cater to individuals who may have limited mobility or prefer the convenience of receiving beauty treatments at their doorstep. Mobile services can include haircuts, hairstyling, manicures, pedicures, and facials. Implementing a user-friendly booking system and providing efficient transportation can enhance customer satisfaction. It is crucial to maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene while delivering mobile services.
  3. Beauty Training Academy: Create opportunities for local residents interested in pursuing a career in the beauty industry by establishing a beauty training academy. This academy can offer comprehensive courses in hairstyling, makeup artistry, nail care, and skincare. By providing professional training and practical experience, you can equip individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the beauty industry. Offering scholarships or financial assistance programs can make the training programs more accessible to those with limited financial resources.

4. Education and Training

Education and training businesses have the potential to make a significant impact in slums. Consider establishing a tutoring center that offers academic support to children and adults. Here are three paragraphs on expanding this idea further:

  1. Holistic Learning Approach: Differentiate your tutoring center by adopting a holistic learning approach that goes beyond traditional academic subjects. Consider incorporating life skills training, character development, and mentorship programs into your curriculum. This comprehensive approach can empower students to excel academically while also developing crucial skills for personal and professional success. Collaborating with local educational institutions and professionals can enhance the quality and diversity of the training programs.
  2. Vocational Training Programs: In addition to academic support, offer vocational training programs that teach practical skills such as carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, and tailoring. These vocational skills can provide individuals with alternative career paths and opportunities for self-employment. It is essential to partner with local businesses and organizations to ensure that the training programs align with industry needs and standards. Providing internships or apprenticeships can further enhance the employability of program participants.
  3. Adult Education: Extend your educational services to adults within the slum community who may have missed out on formal education. Offer adult literacy programs, financial literacy training, and entrepreneurship workshops. By equipping adults with essential skills and knowledge, you contribute to their personal growth and enhance their ability to secure better livelihoods. Implementing flexible class schedules and providing a supportive learning environment can encourage adult learners to participate actively.

5. Waste Management and Recycling

Slums often face challenges in waste management and recycling. Consider starting a waste management and recycling business that focuses on collecting and recycling plastic bottles, paper, and other recyclable materials. Here are three paragraphs on expanding this idea further:

  1. Community Awareness Programs: Raise awareness about the importance of waste management and recycling within the slum community by conducting educational programs and campaigns. This can involve organizing workshops, community clean-up events, and interactive sessions that emphasize the environmental and economic benefits of recycling. Collaborating with local schools, community centers, and environmental organizations can amplify the impact of these awareness programs.
  2. Upcycling and Artisanal Products: Explore opportunities to upcycle waste materials and transform them into unique and marketable products. For example, plastic bottles can be repurposed into eco-friendly plant pots or fashion accessories. By partnering with local artisans and designers, you can create a range of upcycled products that appeal to a wider customer base. Promoting the concept of conscious consumerism and supporting local craftsmanship can further enhance the sustainability and profitability of the business.
  3. Collaboration with Recycling Facilities: Establish partnerships with recycling facilities and organizations that specialize in the processing and distribution of recycled materials. This collaboration ensures that the collected waste is effectively sorted, processed, and sent for further recycling. By streamlining the waste management process and adhering to proper recycling practices, you contribute to a cleaner environment and support the circular economy. It is crucial to establish transparent and reliable supply chain systems to maintain the efficiency of the business.

6. Renewable Energy Solutions

Access to reliable and affordable energy is often limited in slums. Consider starting a business that provides renewable energy solutions such as solar panels and energy-efficient cookstoves. Here are three paragraphs on expanding this idea further:

  1. Customized Solar Solutions: Offer customized solar solutions tailored to the energy needs of slum residents. This can include solar panels for lighting, charging stations for mobile devices, and solar-powered appliances. By providing affordable and sustainable energy options, you alleviate the reliance on traditional sources of energy such as kerosene lamps or charcoal stoves. It is crucial to conduct thorough energy assessments and design systems that optimize energy efficiency and meet the specific requirements of each household or business.
  2. Installation and Maintenance Services: In addition to supplying solar panels and energy-efficient cookstoves, offer installation and maintenance services to ensure the proper functioning of these renewable energy solutions. Providing regular maintenance and repairs can help build trust with customers and ensure the longevity of their energy systems. Consider training and employing local residents as technicians to create employment opportunities and promote local expertise in renewable energy technologies.
  3. Educational Workshops: Organize educational workshops and training sessions to raise awareness about the benefits of renewable energy and promote sustainable energy practices within the slum community. These workshops can cover topics such as energy conservation, financial planning for energy investments, and the environmental impact of traditional energy sources. By empowering residents with knowledge and skills, you encourage the adoption of renewable energy solutions and contribute to a more sustainable future.

7. Microfinance and Financial Services

Access to financial services is crucial for the economic development of slum communities. Consider starting a microfinance institution that provides small loans and financial services to entrepreneurs in the slums. Here are three paragraphs on expanding this idea further:

  1. Entrepreneurship Training: In addition to offering financial services, provide entrepreneurship training programs that equip individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to start and manage their own businesses. These training programs can cover topics such as business planning, financial management, marketing strategies, and customer service. By combining financial support with entrepreneurial education, you enhance the success rate of small businesses in the slum community.
  2. Savings and Credit Associations: Establish savings and credit associations within the slum community to promote a culture of saving and responsible borrowing. These associations allow individuals to pool their resources and collectively provide loans to members. By encouraging regular savings and offering competitive interest rates, you create a financial ecosystem that supports the growth and sustainability of small businesses. It is essential to provide financial literacy training alongside these associations to ensure that members make informed financial decisions.
  3. Partnerships with Local Businesses: Collaborate with local businesses in the slum community to provide financial services that cater to their specific needs. This can include offering working capital loans, equipment financing, and trade finance solutions. By understanding the unique challenges faced by local businesses and tailoring financial services accordingly, you establish strong partnerships and contribute to their growth. Regular monitoring and evaluation of loan portfolios can help mitigate risks and ensure the long-term viability of the microfinance institution.

8. Technology and Internet Services

With the increasing reliance on technology, establishing a business that offers technology and internet services can be a lucrative venture. Here are three paragraphs on expanding this idea further:

  1. Digital Skills Training: Bridge the digital divide within the slum community by offering computer literacy classes and digital skills training programs. These programs can cover topics such as basic computer operations, internet usage, online communication, and software applications. By equipping individuals with essential digital skills, you empower them to pursue online entrepreneurship, remote work opportunities, and access a wider range of educational resources. It is crucial to provide affordable or subsidized training options to ensure accessibility for all residents.
  2. Internet Access Points: Establish internet cafes or community centers that provide affordable internet access to slum residents. These access points can serve as hubs for online communication, job searching, educational activities, and entrepreneurship. Offering reliable internet connectivity and a comfortable working environment can attract individuals who may not have access to internet services at home. Consider partnering with local telecommunications providers to negotiate affordable data packages and ensure uninterrupted connectivity.
  3. Mobile Phone Charging Services: With the widespread use of mobile phones in slum communities, consider offering mobile phone charging services. This can involve setting up charging stations or providing portable charging solutions that are easily accessible to residents. By addressing the need for reliable charging options, you contribute to the connectivity and communication capabilities of individuals within the slum community. It is essential to ensure the safety and security of the charging services by implementing proper electrical wiring and maintaining a clean and organized charging environment.


Starting a business in slums in Kenya requires careful consideration of the community’s needs and available resources. The business ideas mentioned above are just a few examples of the potential opportunities. It is essential to conduct thorough market research, understand the target audience, and develop a sustainable business model. With determination, creativity, and a focus on community impact, entrepreneurs can make a positive difference and create successful businesses in slums in Kenya.


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