Ugandans are very enterprising. The other day I saw a street preacher with a big speaker blasting worship music at the Garden City round about. I have watched this guy progress steadily over time and something seems to be working for him. He now wears a sharp suit with shiny shoes and has invested in a music system.
To aid and advance this enterprising spirit which is resident in all Ugandans I have a compiled a list of 113 small business ideas you can try out! Remember think big and start small. What matters most is STARTING!
1. Fuel pump. Target under served small towns along the highways where the big fuel stations have not set up.
2. Veterinary store. Over 80% of Uganda’s population is involved in agriculture. Selling agricultural inputs makes business sense. Target commercial farmers who can afford the inputs.
3. Butchery. Ugandans love meat. Have a freezer and offer fresh meat. Introduce standard clean packaging just like Ugachick and stand out from the crowd.
4. Sell charcoal. In the absence of affordable energy options charcoal still has a lot of demand. Almost all urban households use charcoal for cooking.
5. Timber store. Timber is key in roofing of houses. Set up near hardware stores. Sell and deliver direct to building sites.
6. Supermarket. Open a mini supermarket in a town center far away from the big supermarkets. Offer variety and cheap items.
7. Gym. Open a gym in your neighborhood. Keep it clean. Offer friendly service and a mobile gym. Do a Saturday morning run or cycling as part of the membership offer. Build a whatsapp group for members and share free health insights.
8. Printer. Set up a printer in the University. Print handouts for students. Negotiate with the Dean and give him a commission to allow you to offer exclusive service.
9. YouTube Channel. Use you phone to capture video of interesting stuff and post on YouTube. Earn money from adverts. Make sure your content is unique and fills a void within the market.
10. Day Care. Turn your home into a day care facility for your neighbours during the day. Reach out to your neighbours through Whatsapp groups. Hire a friendly caretaker.
11. Security firm. Offer a wide range of security services including guards, cameras, electric fencing. Security is now part of home ownership costs.
12. Open a clinic. Partner with your doctor friend and run a clinic. People are always falling sick and there will always be demand for clinics.
13. Leisure gardens. Ugandans love partying. Have some nice gardens. Get an actual florist to design the gardens.
14. Help people buy stuff online. For example i have bought several stuff from the USA through ugunlocked.com.
15. Tour guide. There someone offering city tours using boda bodas ( http://walterstours.com/). You can also do walking tours of Kampala. Just build a good online presence!
16. Build apps. Jumia and Safe Boda are examples of successful apps. Partner with some creative software engineers from campus and let them translate your idea into an app. You do not need to be a programmer to build apps. You can just be the ideas guy.
17. Help people get jobs. For instance Brighter Monday and Ugandajobline are doing this kind of business. Other agencies are importing labor to the Middle East. You can also focus on another geographical location e.g. South Sudan.
18. Coaching and Mentoring. People like Tony Robbins make a living doing this. Become a local version of these people. Simply begin to share your life experience and expertise. Eventually you will figure out how to monetize your unique service offering.
19. Cleaning services. Offer cleaning services for homes and offices. Buy the equipment from Katwe or alibaba.com and market you services among your friends and on Facebook.
20. Mobile make up artist. I have a friend who does this over the weekends for weddings and kwanjulas. She can easily make 500k in a weekend.
21. Mobile disco and sound system. Buy some second hand equipment from Katwe and start a mobile disco business. Target the upcoming election period and build a relationship with the most popular MP candidate in your village.
22. Construction Management. Anyone who has built a house knows how stressing it is to manage the builders on site. A construction manager is really a good project manager. Just be professional, ethical and don’t cheat your clients.
23. Plumbing services. I pay my plumber a minimum of 50k whenever I call on his services. If he does this for 100 homes he easily walks away with 5m a month.
24. Electrical wiring. I recently paid over 1m to someone to wire some premises. Just acquire some technical knowledge and the right certification and you will be on your way to minting money.
25. Fashion design. My young brother is minting dimes designing outfits for people. If you have a creative streak within you give it a try.
26. Interior design. Get ideas from Pinterest and start with your own house. Market your services on Facebook and Instagram.
27. Make ice cream. Make and sell ice cream from home. Go to YouTube and learn how to make ice cream.
28. Make/Sell jewelry. Jump on a bus and go to the Masai market in Nairobi. Buy art pieces and crafts. Nicely brand them and sell them online.
29. Distribute products for big companies like Mukwano, Nile Breweries, etc. Partner with your friends and raise the required working capital. Target under served and hard to reach areas where the big agents have not yet set up warehouses.
30. Insurance agent. Talk to various insurance companies and become their agent. Earn a commission from sales. Eventually get a license for your your outfit.
31. Whole sale shop. Buy in bulk from Kikubo and stock in your wholesale shop in your local town center. Offer the lowest and most affordable areas in town. Keep your overheads low.
32. Airbn. Turn your boys quarters and spare bedroom into an Airbnb. My retired mom is doing this in Jinja and she is earning 500k per month! Simply check out https://www.airbnb.com/ to find out how it works.
33. Grocery store. We spend a lot of money at our nearest grocery store. Moreover the service is not that good. Imagine if you built a chain of well branded grocery stores around town offering cheap fresh vegetables. You can easily dominate this market.
34. Make soap and lotion. It is quite easy to make soap and lotion at home. Include some medicinal properties and have unique packaging. Sell door to door in your neighborhood.
35. Errand service. Run errands for busy people. Kikuubo Online is reinventing this space buy helping people buy stuff from downtown.
36. Car hire service. I spent a lot of money hiring cars for my wedding. The guy we hired these cars from had a whole fleet of cars for hire. Negotiate with your friend who has a nice car and rent it out on weekends for wedding receptions. Give him a commission. Drive the car yourself to ensure it is not bashed.
37. Catering service. Target offices and parties. Have nice quality food at an affordable price. Be clean, professional and deliver food on time.
38. Mobile hair salon. Target ladies especially brides to be. Start by offering free services to your family and friends.
39. Phone repair. Open up a phone repair service. Go to YouTube and learn how to repair phones. Import the machinery you need from alibaba.com. Sell spare parts and phone accessories as well.
40. Domain name trading. Reserve domain names and trade them later to other business owners. For example the Apple recently just acquired the domain name apple.co.uk for a lot of money.
41. Social Media Influencer. I am sure you have seen Sheila Gashumba on bill boards around town. That is because she is a social media influencer and companies will pay to use her to sell their products and services.
42. Mobile toilets. There is a guy I know who does this as his side hustle. He has about 10 mobile toilets which he hires out to different events. The Toilet Merchant!
43. Home schooling. Find the right curriculum online e.g. https://www.pearsonhomeschool.com/ Buy the appropriate learning materials and start with your own kids. Gradually accept more students for a fee. Eventually obtain a licence from Ministry of Education.
44. Child Play Center. There is a little play center near our home which has monopolized child play services. You can do the same in your neighborhood.
45. Sell food produce. Buy bags of g/nuts and other produce from the villages. Put it on a bus and resell in Kampala.
46. Boda Boda. Buy a boda boda and lease it to someone to ride. Earn income weekly for a year or two and let the rider own it thereafter. Partner with Safe Boda and monitor the trips.
47. Uber driver. Turn your car into an Uber after work and on weekends. This is the trend in Kenya and South Africa for middle class working people. Better still hire your unemployed brother to drive the car while you are in office.
48. Money Lending. Take a salary loan or advance from work and lend to your friends at high interest rates! This may backfire on you if your friends don’t pay!
49. Blogger. Write and publish things you love doing. Develop a following and then sell stuff to your followers for a profit. Run adverts on your blog.
50. Real estate broker. Look out for deals e.g. foreclosures, in the newspapers and online and connect buyers with sellers. Earn a commission for each transaction.
51. Olx Merchant. Sell old stuff on Olx or Jumia. I recently sold some old mattresses for 100k!
52. Open a small shop. Small shops are everywhere. Open one as well with good customer service and a wide variety of cheap items.
53. Rear chicken. Buy a few local chicken and start rearing. Soon or later they will reproduce and you can sell them as well as the eggs.
54. Rear goats. Buy 2 goats (I male + 1 female) and look after them. Sooner or later the goats will multiply. Sell the meat and milk. I know someone with goats in the backyard who makes goat milk yogurt.
55. Start a restaurant. People have at least 3 meals everyday. Make sure you have a good location, good chef, good customer service, and affordable food. You will die of money.
56. Set up a chicken hatchery. Buy/Build an old hatchery and hatch eggs for poultry farmers.
57. Bee keeping. Start an apiary and sell the honey. Brand it as organic. Mobilize the community and partner with an international NGO to market the honey.
58. Piggery. Start a piggery and sell the pork to the various pork joints around town.
59. Make and sell animal feeds. Partner with a Vet and animal nutritionist and create good quality feeds. You will beat the competition which doesn’t apply any science in their production process.
60. Make fruit juice. Make it fresh and cold. Partner with someone who grows passion. Brand it as organic. Have clean sales people to distribute to people in traffic (after getting permission from KCCA).
61. Make snacks for breakfast. I always struggle to find decent cheap breakfast around Kampala in the morning. Someone needs to reinvent how breakfast is made and delivered to all these people driving to work every morning.
62. Make and deliver fruit salad. I know colleagues who spend 10k daily buying fruit salad from someone who delivers.
63. Arts and crafts. We have many tourists coming to Uganda. Buy/make crafts and sell them online.
64. Grow crops. All sorts of crops are viable. You can grow food crops and cash crops. Manage key risks through irrigation, crop management and protection, market development, and breed selection.
65. Rear fish. I am rearing about 500 fish in my small backyard so can you.
66. Build cheap rental units. Build cheap rental units near town and earn rental income on a monthly basis.
67. Make tomato sauce. Make and sell tomato sauce and chilli sauce. We have too many tomatoes.
68. Rear cattle. Sell the milk and meat. There is someone who used to deliver fresh beef on Saturday mornings around town.
69. Sell flowers. Deliver flowers for your friends girlfriend’s, wives, and mistresses. Be discreet and your friends will trust you with more errands.
70. Mobile food stand. Simply reinvent the rolex stand like the Musana cart. There is some guy who sells rolex with minced meat in Ntinda!
71. Make chalk. The black board has not yet been reinvented in Uganda. With the growing population in UPE schools chalk will stay in demand for sometime to come.
72. Set up a beauty salon. People always want to look good. For example AFROS and Mo has grown into a household name.
73. Open a hardware shop. Their is a housing boom and people are building like crazy. Just make sure you open the store near the construction sites in satellite towns like Gayaza, Nansana, Seeta, Namugongo, etc.
74. Sell sand. Sand is a key ingredient in construction work.
75. Become a mobile money and bank agent. BOU approved the agency model and all banks are rolling out agents. Simply apply to become an agent for several banks.
76. Open a bar. Uganda’s per capita consumption of alcohol is one of the highest in the World. Open a bar for the right market. In Naalya put up a high end bar. Open another one in Kalerwe which sells cheap brew. Invite local artistes to perform to promote the new joint. Subscribe to DSTV to lure in the football fans.
77. Open a car wash. Cars are increasing at an alarming rate. This explains much of the traffic we see on the roads. Someone needs to wash these cars. Offer ancillary services such as muchomo, massage, juice, etc.
78. Distributorship services. Big and small companies are looking for people to help them distribute their products across the country.
79. Start a church. Church has become big business. Moreover there are no taxes. Offer spiritual nourishment to people in return for tithes and offerings.
80. Video production. Produce videos for companies and individuals in return for a fee. Learn how to this from YouTube.
81. Become a virtual assistant. Busy executives in the developed world are looking to hire smart cheap personal executives abroad. There are various sites online where you can sign up and get training.
82. Teach. You can create an online course and host it on udemy.com or any other similar site. You can start by teaching foreigners how to speak your local language.
83. Perform simple assignments online. Sites like freelancer.com let you bid on simple tasks like doing some Excel or data input.
84. Affiliate marketing. Check out amazon.com and other sites and see what they have to offer to become an affiliate who promotes their products.
85. Write a book and self publish on amazon.com. Research your audience and then come up with great content. I have written and published a book on backyard fish farming.
86. Create a website and sell adverts. Focus on a niche market and create great content. People love gossip and entertainment and news.
87. Sell a service online. For example if you are good at graphic design you can sell your services at specific sites for a fee.
88. Masterminds and coaching. For example I started this Facebook blog about money and I now host a monthly Money Breakfast which goes for 50k per session. I also offer personal finance coaching services to a few people. From this blog I am doing paid speaking engagements. You can start anything where you have expertise and passion.
89. Furniture shop. I have struggled with carpenters! There is a gap of professional carpenters who know what customer service means. You can easily sweep this market if you focus on the customer processes. Hire cheap carpenters to do the actual work.
90. Metal work. A lot of un-professionalism here as well. Think of Cafe Javas customer service processes and figure out how to apply it to these metals workers! Same applies with mechanics, builders and all sorts of handymen.
91. Graphics design. A lot of gigs online for good graphics designers. Check out freelancer.com and other similar sites.
92. Photography. Many young people are doing this for a living as a way to start their business careers.
93. Part time tutoring. You can do this online at udemy.com and other similar sites. I wonder why people want the government to give them jobs. That is 20th century thinking. We are in the information age my brother!
94. Events Management. The other day our organisation paid UGX 100m for a corporate event! Can you imagine this! There are so many weddings and parties going on and people need Events Managers to handle all the stress.
95. Raise and train dogs. Demand for well trained dogs has increased because of the recent spike in home break-ins.
96. Security equipment. I paid over UGX 3m to install security cameras at my home. Personal security will always be an issue as long high youth unemployment persists.
97. Bake bread and cakes. I have grown up eating bread. Bread will always be part of our diet.
98. Make clay bricks. As construction of homes booms so will demand for clay bricks. Figure out how to increase the productivity of the brick maker by using locally made machinery. Brand and sell them. Wonder why no one brands and packages bricks nicely? If Rwenzori water can be branded so can bricks.
99. Make concrete blocks. Same with clay bricks. Target the higher end market who can afford this. Target people in estates in Namugogo, Entebbe Road, etc.
100. Dry cleaner. Pick dirty clothes from people’s homes, return them dry, clean and pressed! Get the word out using Whatsapp and Facebook.
101. Landscape design. People love beautiful compounds. Get ideas from Pinterest. Maintain a Facebook page for all your work and use it as a marketing tool.
102. Professional Services. Get a professional qualification and offer your services to other people other than your employer. If you are an Accountant offer book keeping services to your friends.
103. Sell shoes and clothes. Buy in bulk from Owino and sell them from the boot of your car.
104. Sell Bridal garments. Target wedding meetings at Centenary Park and drop your flyers. offer discounts as your wedding contribution.
105. Network marketing. Join one of several network marketing schemes around town. Make sure it is not a scam. At least you will learn how to sell things.
106. Drug shop. Target small town centers where the Indians have not yet set up their big wholesale pharmacies. Hire a good friendly nurse to sell the medicine.
107. Hauling service. Help people shift from houses and offices.
108. Bed and Breakfast. Start a simple bed and breakfast. Target remote towns on the highways without decent accommodation. Have clean comfortable rooms, a white mosquito net, and nice breakfast. The bathroom MUST be clean with white tiles. Soon or later word will spread and customers will flock in. Hire only friendly staff to tend to guests.
109. Make signage for businesses. A friend of mine has been making dimes since campus by making signage for businesses. I assure you what he is doing is not rocket science. A little bit of creativity and research is all you need. You can do the exact same thing and make money as well.
110. School shuttle. A friend of mine is currently chauffeuring my daughter to school for 550k a term. He just bought a Noah, branded it, and marketed his services on the community Whatsapp. Cool dimes!
111. Make candles. Partner with a bee keeper and make and sell candles. Add some nice scents, colors, and make them artistic. Sell them online to white people. Include a community responsive aspect (for instance helping orphans) to your messaging to appeal to the customers
112. Rear cows and sell the beef at the City abattoir. If you rear Friesians you can sell the milk to Jesa or Brookside.
113. Burial services. People are dying everyday and there is a market for organised service providers to help distressed family members go through such trying moments.
PS: If you desire to improve your finances join us next Friday 25th October 2019 starting 6.00pm at the Roots restaurant on Akii Bua road next to Nakasero hospital for our second MONEY TALK. The theme of the MONEY TALK is “Investing your money safely”. Our guest speaker will be Susan Namaganda who is the Head of Operations at Crested Capital. Susan handles most of my investments in Treasury bills, bonds and shares. She has a wealth of information on capital markets and other investment options. Participation fee is only 50k per person. Please inbox to confirm participation as slots are limited to only 15 people.