Last Updated on 6 April 2020 by Gertrude

Not everyone has money before beginning their business. Online business isn’t capital intensive, that means you start with zero amount of shillings.

When starting a business with zero capital, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you invest, in fact, most times, you invest time.

And as they say, time is money. There are some online businesses which as a Kenyan you can start with zero capital but will yield for you high profits.

For example, starting an online course only requires for you to invest in a smartphone which can record awesome pictures.

Get a microphone for better sound clarity but smartphones have in-built powerful sound systems. Then the course, which means your time. To make the course profitable you need to market and create product tiers for the course.

Most online courses sell from $9 – 999 that means from 1,000 to 100,000 shillings.

You need to invest in a low-cost business in order to see the high-profit margins.

Most of these businesses are low risk, that means, you don’t risk losing millions.

Plus starting a business from the comfort of your home is the best decision one can make in this era of offline businesses failing 3 years after inception. 

Top Low-Cost Businesses to Start That Have High-Profit Margins in Kenya 

The following are the top low-cost businesses to start that have high-profit margins and they include:

Online courses 

Many Kenyans don’t know the value of creating an online course. There are hidden talents in the country. Now, did you know you can teach anything online? Check on YouTube, people learn everything even how to have sex! Find a niche that people love, or an industry people love. To find a niche, I have found that you have to start from yourself. What do you struggle with and how did you overcome the struggle?. The notion is that you need a million followers to make it online, in fact, you need engagement and a loyal following. Engagement equals to you creating trust in your followers. That’s where an online business begins, from a little shift in your mindset. Now, gauge what your audience asks, the repeated questions they bombard you with. What are they and how can you package them into profitable answers. Before beginning this blog, the idea was to help shift the mindset of many Kenyan youths. I struggled to find employment after university and thought it wise to create a brand for discussing our everyday struggles while reviewing everyday products. That’s why I made reviews about Jumia, Safaricom and starting a daycare business. I wanted to answer one question, while it took longer to gain confidence about making money online as a Kenyan, I finally found the focus for me blog. I didn’t feel confident enough to talk about work from home, I felt like a student. I still feel like that a lot of times. The goodness with an online course is that you start from your knowledge, what you know best. Someone said, what you know someone else struggles with. The other thing is to make your course profitable by creating tiers. Don’t create high ticket course, unless you are Brian Dean, not to discourage you but how many Kenyans, if making it for the Kenyan market will buy a 100,000 shillings online course? Know your target market and their purchasing effort/power. They always say, to sell anything online you can never go wrong with $10-50 dollars. Anything other than that and scepticism arises. Do this, create product tiers: standard, intermediate, premium, gold, jubilee, silver. Each of these learning tiers, ensure to vary their course content and the price. Make your price in the range shown above. As you get more customers and valuable in your course, you can jump into Gary Vayerchuck moments by pricing however you want. You only need time to record the course but the rewards are immense and online courses are the way right now, as more people embrace online work lives. The King of online course creation is Danny Iny, I learnt about course creation from him in 2012/2013, but I was quite shy to get in front of the camera. 


I have heard a calling to write ebooks but like everything else in my life, I haven’t felt confident enough. As my confidence arose in 2019, I wrote an Airbnb and posted it on Amazon, not knowing how to market it. Writing ebooks requires your knowledge of your subject like no one else. You don’t want to read a book with information easily available on the internet, right? Package your ebook information whether fiction or non-fiction with stories that resonate with your readers. Make your books page-turner. I have found out that writing a vivid outline using my strong imaginations skills make me write books faster. To get started grab an ebook to help educate you authorpreneur ELITE by Raza. This book is a page-turner and will change your perception of the ebooks. Also, dig your heels deeper into reading Kindlepreneur blog to know what works in the kindle book writing and what doesn’t. Some ebook authors earn up to $100,000 or more dollars like Gabrielle Gundi, she earns a six-figure income to enable her  travel whenever she wants. Writing ebooks is a perfect example of a business you start from your knowledge that means zero start-up costs. 


I started my Instagram in October 2018, with the intention of being a mindset coach. While I have postponed all my social media except YouTube and Pinterest to focus on this blog and ebook writing, coaching is a rewarding business which you start from your skills. You don’t need to get trained, but you charge a premium by either creating courses or writing ebooks. For example, to gain credibility, see what manifestation babe did. She focused on the world of manifestation, I focused on mindset coaching. Talk all there is about your mindset or manifestation for three months on a non-paid platform like Instagram. Create a brand movement which is recognised across all social networks. Be real/authentic in order to stand out. This means talk from a place of experience how, for example. you used manifestation/law of attraction to get the money you want. Develop the trust between you and the followers plus engagement. After you reach about 100 followers, start creating ebooks, record courses and podcasts to help maximise on your profits. Or you can sell printable quotes alongside your business, make sure the quotes are within your niche to maximise on the profits. Start coaching from experience (what you talk about on your social media or books) to see the profits soar. With added notoriety, you can earn as much as you want like Tony Robbins


I didn’t stumble upon freelancing but I searched for the word for 3 years. I was jobless and needed something to do. All this period I thought like many of you, ‘anything to do’. When your job ambitions equal to anything available you never get hired. You, in fact, struggle to accept your natural talent which must be nurtured in my case, writing. Now, you don’t need much to get started as a freelancer you need your computer and steady internet supply. The hard part comes when deciding what to do. Ask yourself the following question, what are my skills, passion, interests hobbies, strengths? I don’t focus much on weaknesses because they discourage me. Then, truthfully and honestly write down your answers. Start checking online, one of your skills or many of your skills are needed. People often get stuck in searching for an online job believing it doesn’t work like offline, in fact, they are the same thing. You can work as a freelancer in any field but the most common freelancer fields online include writing, graphic designer, digital marketers, SEO, virtual assistants. 

Affiliate marketing 

I have known affiliate marketing since starting my blog in the 2012/2013 period. I have started so many blogs that haven’t worked but I don’t give up, I started this one as a hobby blog. Nowadays, affiliate marketing has become easier, you don’t need a blog to get started, you can start from Instagram or Pinterest by recommending products you love. Linking the merchant, maybe Amazon, Shareasale then when someone buys from your link you get paid. Easy, peasy. Affiliate marketing becomes profitable when you focus on a niche. Always research the good, evil, and bad side of products you recommend so that customers trust you. 

Virtual assistance 

When I found the word freelancer in 2012, the other word that popped up was a secretary online. The word virtual assistant came up and it felt like a lightbulb. I talked about being a successful VA, and the article became viral but I didn’t update it so finally, it disappeared from Google’s first page. I will update it later as the focus on my blog grows intensely. Choose a niche as a VA, don’t get trapped in doing simple tasks which pay you 200 shillings or 

$2 dollar-jobs. What are your marketable skills and how can you bring them online as a VA? There are over 150 tasks a VA can do and Gina Horkey explains them well, she’s a renowned VA. You can begin a VA business from the simple menial jobs as you scale your business to increase your profits. 

Business consulting 

A consultant is simply the one who knows it all. For example, you have worked as a marketer for so many years in your offline job. Offer your marketing services to brands online. A consultant has the knowledge, knowledge comes from writing books, having videos. I like what network marketer Eric Worre does on YouTube. When you help consult for businesses about their marketing or branding you can charge however much you want, per hour or per month. Consulting for corporates pays more. 

Digital marketer 

The field of digital marketing is the parent for social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, SEO/M marketing, video marketing. You can create a digital marketing agency from the comfort of your home if you know a lot about SEO, for example. When you help rank businesses on Google’s page 1, you can charge them a premium for their email marketing or content marketing to help their content stay relevant and on Google’s rank. 


I love blogging. A powerful way of making profits with what you know best. For example, if you know a lot about sewing/tailoring share with the world. If you know a lot about working from home like I do, share with the world. Like vlogging, you can share anything as a blogger. We have seen bloggers becoming billionaires from their dedication and hard work. You earn money with a blog through affiliate marketing, selling your products and by creating courses about blogging. To make a profit, make sure you buy a domain name, from Dreamhost or Bluehost it costs up to 10k or less if you use Dreamhost because it’s a monthly based subscription service. 

Membership subscription website 

I created an online jobs board for Kenyans, stopped posting on it because of the over-stretching on my part when it came to searching for jobs relevant for Kenyans. Decided to make it a subscriber-based service for the time being. You don’t need to be a website developer to create a membership subscription website, you need a domain name, and a theme. Plus it has never been easier to build websites with a King of WordPress showing how websites get built for free on YouTube. You charge members an access fee, like, for example, what Flexjobs does with their online jobs board. Nothing like the pleasure of earning recurring money 


I came across a podcast in 2018 but didn’t understand what it meant. Maybe because I am not a fan of radio and podcast to me is radio. By the way, you can make profits from the podcast, like blogging, vlogging, choose a popular topic and stick to a niche. A popular topic doesn’t mean what you don’t want to talk about, you want to choose what you love then create a following. You can avail your podcast for free then you can charge to download or offer your podcast with an incentive like merchandise, t-shirt, backpack for those who download. Podcasts are gaining a lot of popularity in Kenya. You need to invest in a great microphone and a pair of noise-cancelling headsets. You can start from as low-cost as possible or with as many fancy equipments as possible, the choice and money to invest are yours. 

YouTube channel 

I started my YouTube channel in 2013!. Imagine where I would be by now as the world of YouTube like everything takes Kenya as the last option. Anyway, you start a YouTube channel from a hobby, make meaningful topics and see your subscriber count grow. After becoming focused on work from home Kenya, I saw a surge in subscribers. So I can say strongly that choosing a niche helps grow your channel. I rarely market my videos, imagine, if I was, something I am changing in 2020, I’d be at over 1,000 subscribers now. You need your smartphone and a topic you love talking about. You can branch out to other topics later after building an audience and responding to your audience’s needs. 

Digital products 

Digital products business came to my attention, again, in 2018 when I wanted to package and sell my quotes. I am not a graphic designer but then I discovered Canva and the idea of an Instagram got born. Digital products don’t have to include printables only, it can be podcasts, ebooks, audios, music anything that gets downloaded online and printing isn’t required. To start a printable business, for example, you need Canva and a computer. Not a graphics computer but a normal one and great internet speed. You can even design printables from your iPhone or Android phone. Each digital product, printable in this case sells for $5 or more according to how you upsell your products. If you want to know what digital products to sell, check this blog post. 


I have heard about copywriting for a long time, but I thought because it’s a hard form of writing I am not going to learn it. In fact, right now, the skill of a copywriter is so in demand with every company bringing their business online. You want to write copy that appeals. For example, what makes you click on a blog post. The headlines and the content in the first paragraph. That’s what a copywriter does, creates appealing and clickable content. You can learn to Copywrite from Kopywriting Kourse. If you can make words appealing, your earning potential skyrockets. 

Ecommerce selling 

Since Amazon, many online commerce stores sprung up. You don’t have to be Amazon, start from a niche. What are the most profitable and competitive niches out there? And what are people not selling in those niches? That’s where you come in. Research the best items or products on Google Trends or Amazon using the Amazon bestseller rank. Fill the gap. You can open a store either as an affiliate using Instagram or Pinterest or using Shopify/Oberlo apps and it costs 3,000shillings/$30 to get started. 

Web design 

Web design is a low-cost business only for those that know how to design websites. You can learn how to design websites on YouTube from Ferdy’s channel also known as the WordPress King. Decide which website design tool you prefer is it Divi, Elementor? Create a few portfolios and you are in business. Capitalise on this era where every business is going online. It makes it better when you know SEO, that way you help businesses rank on Google’s page 1. 


I got a translation job in 2011 when trying to break into the online working world. You only need to know a particular language fluent. If you think translating is easy try doing it with no experience and take on a bigger project as I did blindly. I don’t even love speaking in Swahili, it was the beginning of a 48-hour nightmare that made me realise early on, do something you’re passionate about and you won’t struggle a bit. The most popular translation languages are Arabic, Spanish, German, Japenese, Mandarin. You see those hard or languages people don’t speak often. You must be a great writer when you want to work as a translator. 

Selling stock photos 

I have more than once wanted to sell stock photos, but I haven’t yet. I see this idea for a low-cost online business floating around. When you have original photos of landscape, animals, you list the photos on Shutterstock or your website to maximise on the profit. Stock photos make profits when you sell on the volume. This means, the more you sell, the more you earn. Ensure to edit your photos for print, you can try printing them to gauge their quality. It helps when you use keywords to write photo descriptions. Market them on your Instagram or Pinterest. 

Meal planning 

Meal planning requires for you to know about a certain meal then create printable meal plans for your customers. For example, if you have learnt a lot about keto diet and do the keto diet, time to educate your customers or others would-be keto beginners the dos and don’ts of the meal. When you amass a following, time for you to create meal plans. You have to choose a niche and you must be an enthusiast for the meal you choose to make money. 

Vacation rentals 

Since discovering Airbnb with my move to Mombasa, I became enamelled by the idea. I have always had a love for working in the hospitality industry and the idea has never been so real. You let strangers in your house, then they pay you. Before diving into it so fast, read my book about creating a profitable Airbnb in Kenya or wherever you are. You can branch out from Airbnb because, well, it makes you stand out as an independent guesthouse owner plus you maximise on the profits. Vacation renting becomes low-cost if and when you have a house, bought or rented. Just checking your renting terms and conditions. The location for your Airbnb doesn’t matter, it’s your services among other things that count. Read my Airbnb book. 


Cleaning is a low-cost business only if you already have the cleaning supplies or tools. Even so, you can start by cleaning your neighbourhood. This implies, cleaning neighbours’ houses before taking on bigger projects. Make sure you collect contacts and do a meticulous job. Add more income by ironing and repairing clothes, curtains or refurbishing furniture for your clients. 


Sometime in 2012, I wanted to begin a daycare from home so I researched the essentials of creating an outstanding daycare. I created this blogpost in 2015 to show you how to begin a daycare business. These days daycares become competitive than ever because most of them find their competition from advanced schools. This is a field for those who love children. To help you maximise on the profits, make sure you open a 24/7 daycare centre for women in the night trade or sex workers, nurses and single mums who have gone on night dates. Don’t over-crowd your daycare and advertise your services like crazy. 

Tour guide 

It’s hard to show people around when you don’t know your area well. To start a tour guide business, contrary to what I hear in Kenya, is a low-cost business. You need to introduce, for example, walking tours to explore Mombasa or Nairobi. Show the architecture of your area. As time flies by, you can acquire cars for those adventurous tourists or nature lovers so you take them to the parks. Make more profit by writing travel guides about your area and what others have never heard about your area. Remember to focus on areas unexplored.  


A craft business is a hobby business that doesn’t cost a lot to begin. They always say, when your hobby becomes too expensive it’s time to use your time and effort to make money. That was my notion with this blog, it’s a craft for me, so I went out searching for what to do or a craft to begin. I sewed pillows which made me a huge profit. I learnt something when a hobby consumes lots of your time it’s time to decide whether to sell your products or abandon the time-eating project. You start a hobby from passion, therefore low-cost. When you go out there buying supplies for your craft, do you even feel a pinch in your heart? What craft do you know or create for free for others and how can you turn that around into a business? 

In conclusion, to start a low-cost business starts with passion. Don’t start a low-cost business for the sake of making money though that must be the aim.

Niche out. Know your target market, your specific audience and why your audience will want your product.

Conduct market research. What are your customers buying and why?

How will you turn customers into your loyal buyers/followers? Remember, don’t forget about branding.

You want to create a brand movement that lingers for decades and generations, right?

At least that’s my aim with writing. Leave your stamp by having your logo, a strong name, mission and vision.

When you have a strong brand, your marketing messages become easier. 

Which of these low-cost online business ideas with high profits will you as a Kenyan do and why? 




Salima · 14 April 2020 at 9:23 AM

Hello how can I start fresh farm home delivery

Salima · 14 April 2020 at 9:28 AM

Hello how can I start fresh farm produce home deliveries

    stephanie · 14 April 2020 at 12:59 PM

    Hello Salima, talk to people around you in your neighbourhood or create a stall, get all the licences and open to the public. Especially now when fresh farm produces from the market isn’t available in the country due to the coronavirus. I am going to make a video about this and post a blog post here as well. Check back or subscribe to my blog posts to get updates.

    stephanie · 14 April 2020 at 1:01 PM

    I’ll make a video/blog post about starting a delivery business in Kenya and the same strategies you will employ for your farm-fresh produce delivery business. Success to your venture.

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Online Businesses / Online Work in Kenya