Business you can start with less than UGX 100,000/= (US$ 30) – Part 3

In the first two parts of this series, we tackled two areas of business i.e. Food and Household targeted businesses that you can start with under UGX 100,000/=. This last part of the series shall deal with all the business opportunities that couldn’t fall under the previous categories.

General

Beyond the Food and Household categories, there are numerous other businesses that one can attempt and still fit within the subject matter. I delve into some of them here;

Salon: Do you know how to plait women’s hair or cut men’s hair? Before you start procrastinating over where you expect to get money to set up a salon, consider moonlighting. You can identify a friend or friend of a friend with a salon that can help you operate from their salon at a fee. By using their equipment, you are expected to pay some form of ‘rental’ off each job that you get. That way , you launch yourself into business, raise money over time and set up your own salon eventually. For the women, you could choose to plait hair from your home or backyard (I’ve seen many do this) and for the men, depending on the market you target, a chair, tree shade, access to electricity and electric shaver are enough to kickstart you. Second hand shavers can be got for UGX 40,000/= and that seems to be the most significant cost.

Mobile Phone Support: Do you know how to make ring tones? Can you install or remove Apps on smart phones? Can you handle basic repair of phones? These and a few other skills are enough to launch you into this business. By simply teaming up with someone who runs a Mobile Phone retail shop, you can set up a symbiotic relationship that enables the phone hardware seller benefit from your support services since customers usually like dealing with providers who can effectively manage after sales services. Investment? Your skills and a few accessories like memory cards and Screw drivers.


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Real Estate Brokerage: If you are not new to Kampala, you have most likely seen signposts with words like “BULOKA WE NYUMBA NE PULOTI.” The growing real estate industry has not only increased the demand for land and houses but also offered many an opportunity to act as middlemen. Anyone with the networks to know who is selling and who wants to buy can join this business. Not much investment is required save for some money that you can use to move around and establish the specifics of the houses that you are marketing prior to reaching out to customers.

Hawking: I am going to call him Hadubi (Not real name). He graduated from the university three years ago. After struggling to get a white collar job for a year without success, the young man was given an idea to try out hawking products for some Indian Wholesalers in Mbale town. With no money to talk about, he swallowed humble pie and begun. He would be given products without depositing any money upfront which he would sell then return and pay up for the sold stock as he gets more. This business approach proved so lucrative that even when he raised enough money to set up his own shop, he decided to let his wife run the shop and has continued to hawk. Investment? Trustworthiness.

Motivational Speaking: Speaking to people and encouraging them is something that has begun paying significantly lately in Uganda. If you are the type that can be an encourager, all you need is to invest in audience knowledge as well as keep yourself abreast with the ever changing trends of society and you are good to go. Investment? Personal Experiences and reading a couple of books.


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Comedy: Pablo Live, Fun Factory, Kansiime and many others are now filling our entertainment airwaves. But what does it take to become a comedian? Being funny. Simple. If you have been dubbed as a great joker especially in terms of originality, then you are a good candidate for this kind of profession. Hardly any cash investment is required save for pursuing others to give you an opportunity as and when they can.

Counselling: Being able to help others that are challenged in life is a skill not many have. Sometimes you can achieve specific training for it. However, when it comes to looking at it as a business opportunity, the least of your worries should be the money you need to kick off. Even without an office, you can start mobile counselling services and only embark on setting up premises after having tested the waters. You definitely do not need UGX 100,000/= to start.

Graphics Designing: This is an opportunity that those with an artistic mind can easily pursue. A young man who occasionally does for me such work started off by using computers in an Internet Cafe to do clients’ work until he was able to save enough money to buy a laptop. Today he has quite a good number of retainer customers and rakes in handsome revenue monthly.Did he start with UGX 100,000/=? Definitely not. All he needed was enough money to pay for the Internet Cafe time.

I.T Support: Just like Graphics Designing, all you need to start this business is the knowledge. In most cases you are troubleshooting customers’ faulty equipment and in case of replacements, they are ready to buy your recommendation. The key issue here is to get that first customer and offer them a great service. You can start off as a mobile support personnel and only set up offices when the client demand grows.

Office Cleaning: In these lean times, nearly all businesses are boot strapping. Many offices are ready to outsource all non core activities and this is one of those. With all the mushrooming arcades and office blocks in Kampala, it’s not rocket science to figure out a way of getting customers. The beauty about this kind of work is that it is limited to morning hours. You could always back it up with other afternoon jobs elsewhere.

Shoe Repair: A good pal of mine once narrated how he took his shoe to a cobbler for polishing. While he sat there, in a span of one hour, the cobbler had earned UGX 10,000/=. Such a cobbler could very easily end the day with an income of at least UGX 50,000/= on the lower side. If he worked for only Twenty days in a month, he is in position to rake in UGX 1,000,000/= tax free. How much did he invest to start the business? I doubt it was more than UGX 50,000/=.

Research: If you have research skills, don’t sit back and wait for an 8 – 5 job. Get off your laurels, market yourself as a research specialist and start helping organisations conduct researches. Starting off with simple customer surveys, you can graduate to more complex research studies. In most cases, the contracting organisation tends to avail you a down payment to embark on the study. How much do you have to invest in such a business idea? Your time.

Second Hand Clothes and Shoes: I once took a stroll down town and happened to stray into Owino Market. I was shocked to find a young man selling shirts for UGX 3,000/=. YES !!!! I couldn’t believe it. A closer inspection revealed that they were decent enough to be worn at least for a couple of months. How much did that young man need to start business? The same applies to shoes. I have heard of women’s shoes being sold like Telecom Voice Bundles, three pairs going for UGX 10,000/= in the wee hours of the morning with the same shoes later being resold in the rush hour evening time for UGX 5,000/= a pair.

I could go on and on but for now, this is where my story ends. Do you now believe that you can start a business with under UGX 100,000/= ?

Have your say.

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

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74 responses to “Business you can start with less than UGX 100,000/= (US$ 30) – Part 3

  1. Hi james i want to start a farming business on one acre of land what should i invest in
    With a capital of 3m
    The land is mine not renting its located in gayaza

    Like

    • Wow, this is a good idea. One acre is more than enough for you to practise intensive farming. Being in the environs of Kampala city, I would urge you to look into growing the perishable but pricey foods that you can supply at a premium price to restaurants and upscale markets like nakasero. They include Broccoli, Cauliflower, Beet root, Herbs & Spices like dhania, rosemary, mint, basil, dill, fennel etc
      You need to put in mind irrigation right from the word go if your venture is to reap the benefits you are seeking.
      Other issues to be considered are the topology of the land, your neighborhood etc. Get me offline for further discussion on this matter.

      Like

  2. Isingoma Richard

    You a real Brian storm er Thanks a lot, But sir can one go through a business of saling shoes and which type of shoes when working in a company for 8hour a day starting from morning at 7:00am-03:00pm

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Its really great

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Mr wire,

    I would like to invest and start a coin operated laundrymat business.

    Operated by the public and with self service.
    Will it be able to work?
    Considering our growing medium sized population that is concentrating in medium to big apartment raised areas.
    Kindly advice

    Liked by 1 person

    • Business ideas that work sometimes are never obvious. I am sure you have carefully studied this opportunity over time hence coming to this conclusion. If you have only talked to a few friends and made the conclusion, it might be worthwhile expanding your circle of inquiry.
      I recall one time when I first came across that tech in California many years ago, I failed to use it and felt very fake. So I actually never dry cleaned my clothes for the two weeks that I spent there.
      The point I am trying to make, while it might seem such an obvious tech, adaptability by the society might be a little challenge. Yes, these corporate looking chaps we glorify have their internal fears for tech sometimes. SO you want to seriously consider orientation of the potential consumers if you go ahead with it.
      I would urge you to first run a trial in a controlled environment and based on the feedback, roll out enmasse after redesigning the business model.
      1. Why do you want it to be coin based?
      2. Can it use our normal paper money so that you dont have to invest in that extra cost of special coins or restrict it to 500 coins?
      3. Consider who you want to market it to. Is it the Ladies or the guys. If it is the guys, is it the married or single living chaps?
      4. Are there any unique advantage the walk in washing women in our homes bring onto the table that this machine cant?
      5. What are the benefits of this machine over the walk in washing ladies?
      6. Could washing machines in homes be competition?
      7. What is the prevalence of washing machines in the homes of your target group?

      I could go on and on but I’ll let you ruminate more on this and in case you want to exchange some more, let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. RUKUNDO DICKY

    Hallo Mr wire ,I would like to start a grocery in Kampala, but what should consider fast.thax

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, you can consider identifying what vegetables you want to trade in, where you want to sell them from and what kind of structure you need (Is it a temporary roadside thing? Is it a fully fledged shop? Is it outside a supermarket?
      You also need to look at the logistics needed (money, who are your suppliers, their reliability etc)
      Other Qns can be answered as you move along.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Higenyi Jimmy

    Hello Mr. Wire am Higenyi Jimmy BSDA Chairperson Mubs Chapter We need to start up A small business to finance our Association and we may stop begging our Members Of Parliament and other people, Currently I have an idea of REAL ESTATE AGENCY but I think we really need really Guidance, I think we can make arrangements When you are free we meet OTUYEDEHO.

    Like

  7. Hello James I need some advise on how to start a water business, I mean selling or supplying clean water to companies and estates, I have been searching for some business I can start up with the little capital I have, and if u think it can’t do then give some more ideas on what business I can do. Thank you pliz

    Like

  8. Hi James! How should I get in contact with you quickly, I really need alot of advice from you, thanks.

    Like

    • My contacts are at the bottom of the article. I respond to email and twitter very swiftly.

      Like

      • Ceitlin Ceit

        Hi James! I am very new in business sector, but indeed i would like to enjoy like it other people. I live and work from outside my country, i have managed to save some little money, say; starting from 5m+. I love so much making much profits than keeping it in bank though well secured. I would like it to multiply because i can’t make use of it right now due to being far. And i don’t trust lending money to people far from me neither do i have any trustworthy people to start for them a small business in my country and they run it. So, apart from land investiments, where else can i invest my small money in my country and it gives me more profits when secured?

        Like

      • Hello, I understand your predicament. The best advice I would give you is to invest in treasury bills/bonds from Bank of Uganda.
        Upon return, you can claim your money complete with interest accrued and then do a business you deem fit.
        Her in touch using my contacts at the bottom of the article in case you need a more in-depth discussion on this matter.

        Like

      • Ceitlin Ceit

        Hello James! I am very excited for your reply, and glad to have such an opinion from you. But still so many questions in my minds like i have no account in Bank of Uganda, so how can i invest in treasury bills/bonds from it? Indeed! I really need a more in-depth discussion on this matter if you don’t mind! Thank you.

        Like

      • Read this article https://wirejames.com/2017/03/02/ive-been-retired-how-do-i-invest-my-money/ thereafter, send me an email for more detailed info! on how you can trade.

        Like

  9. how I wish I followed you earlier..though

    Like

  10. James, This is great work, you are doing a great Job
    Keep it up, keep going!

    Like

  11. I have got it right away james.thanks

    Like

  12. Muliro Bashir Murashi

    I Like It, More Please

    Like

  13. Its encouraging, I need more

    Like

  14. Thank you James for those ideas think if all Ugandans put lyk such in practice unemployement will be no longer.God bless you

    Like

  15. i have really enjoyed your piece

    Like

  16. thank you James for your advise.,

    Like

  17. Thank you James for these wonderful ideas.
    with this am starting immediately.

    Like

  18. Hullo James am Irene initially I had so much interest in starting a restaurant because I have some skill in cooking and I love cooking but my problem is I wanted to start the business using a loan which later I realized would be hard to finance and also to manage the starting business while working at the same time. However I resorted to another idea I had of starting a stationery which requires less supervision but still, I want to start this using loan money but am not sure if am making the right decision. But I really want t o have a side income other than my small salary. please advise

    Like

    • Hello Irene, I do not advise using a loan entirely to start a business. The interest rates charged are way higher than the profit you’re likely to make (if any).
      My view is inclined towards you saving some money ad topping up with a much smaller loan if need be.
      Try to raise at least 60% of the investment money then get a loan for 40%. If you can be patient, raise 100% from your savings.
      Alternatively, you can look into partnership with someone else so that you share the burden. With a well selected upright partner, you will go places.

      Like

      • Hullo James,
        thank you for your response really means a lot. however I have tried to save some money from my small salary but in vain so was thinking of getting a loan of about 8.5 payable in 2 years time from Barclays with the hope of starting small like I had earlier explained to you. I have tried to save but waaaah with the little I get it has proved impossible because of the daily needs and demands beyond our control. kati I really don’t know what to do am actually at the last stage of processing the loan so should I hold this process or??????

        Like

      • Look at the annual interest rate of the loan. Is the business likely to give you more profits than the interest rate the bank is going to charge you annually?

        If you can’t figure out easily the interest rate is I advise you get a friend who is knowledgeable in financial matters to do for you the calculation.

        After finding the results, let me know and I’ll give you my final word.

        Like

  19. mwanaana mugabe

    hello james..thanks for the advise..i would like to know if there is a cleaning campany around kampala and what do i need to start such a company..thank you

    Like

  20. Hello Wire James. I follow your pieces of advice on businesses quiet alot. Am venturing in a chapati business plus it complementaries. I vehemently have passion for deejaying, its my inate talent/skill am conviced, pliz i need you throw light on how i can benefit from it. My current work is contractual so its easy for me to get free and venture in other fields like it. Thx

    Like

    • Your question is quite confusing. Do you want advice on getting into the chapati business or DJ business?
      I would advise that you focus on one thing first, kick it off and then venture into the other area of your passion. You can make it.

      Like

  21. am Gerald works for little payment i earn according to my responsibilites of 2 kids family and sch. fees. c,ze of internal chest pain…i want to start a viable buzziness(stationer or g.nut processing but i can’t estimate the initial sum

    Like

  22. Greetings to u James. Dog breeding is a viable business (Guard and/or Pet Dogs) tho I personally have challenges getting customers but when I get them, I earn good amount. Also last year I tried a Chapati business but it failed badly & obviously it was a location problem. I’m here & don’t know how or wat to do now to earn besides Dogs. I’m a student at Technical School

    Like

  23. malinga ignatius musaazi

    i have knowledge about graphic desingning and a really fill ishould expose it as a bussiness to my life but the challenge is idon’t know how to start and how much costs will help open up my own bussiness, i can wash photos, photocopying, design certificates, invitation cards, typeset, and many more, but now the challenge remains the same,,icant support myself to set a starting point, pliz help advice

    Like

    • Hello, it’s good to see that you are already aware of your abilities. You can commercialize those skills by starting as basic as possible.
      Consider starting with your circle of influence I.e. Friends, relatives, Neighbour’s, OBs etc. offer them free or discounted services and do a very good job. They will begin promoting you.
      Remember, you don’t need an office. You can even use an Internet cafe’s computers to do your work in the beginning until the time you can afford to buy your own.

      Like

  24. Ashaba Dickson piiri

    Hello, am Ashaba,I have enough land,with apart of stone mining and queering, with an interest and skills in making and forming same different projects. But lack money /capital to start so what can I do to improve my projects. Thanks

    Like

    • Start by assessing what exactly is on your land and then we can share ideas on what you can do with each of those resources on the land. Also, its location is important to know.

      Like

  25. Jacob Natsambwa

    Hello James , I am a finalist at campus but currently Iam around Kampala area and I have my capital of 300,000/ and I would like to startup a small business that’s worthy or less than this amount. please advice on this thx cos am confused on business I can do at the moment.

    Like

    • Start by looking at your skillsets. What are the kind of things you can do? What interests you most? Success in business is a combination of financial resources, abilities and above all interest (this keeps you hanging in there during the hard times).
      You can also consider looking around you and seeing what problems exist and try to solve them. By solving them, you’ll be making money.
      I have a friend who during his primary school days used to help his mother in a village restaurant. In the process, he learnt how to make chapati. Today, he is a teacher but has a booming Chapati business on the side. What is it that you can do based on skills at your disposal already?

      Like

  26. yiki Richard

    how can I startup asmall cosmetic business with 1000000 $

    Like

    • I will consider writing an article on this in the near future. Subscribe your email to the blog (top left corner of the blog page). You’ll receive the post when I eventually post it.

      Like

  27. yiki Richard

    how can I startup asmall cosmetic business with 1000000$ I need some ideas

    Like

  28. JAMES BAKER

    Halo my name is JAMES BAKER . A student at UTC elgon. i have ugx.300,000 and i want to start a business while at school but am confused on what to start. and the problem is we stay in school and its far from mbale town.

    Like

    • Hi Baker, look around you. There are needs within your campus that can be met. What are those things that are a problem? Turn them into a business opportunity.
      It could be people who don’t want to wash, you can offer laundry services, or a need to supplement dining food by supplying Odi to the students.

      Like

  29. Lindio Winny

    Hey.do foreigners need to pay work permit to operate small businesses too?

    Like

  30. great ideas, what about someone whose working, have a small capital, whats to start up a business, while still employed. how can i go about that as most ideas need personal engagement.

    Like

  31. in which legal structure should i register my start-up laundry business?

    Like

    • Please go here http://ursb.go.ug/ click on Business Registration and read about the various types that they have to offer. I am sure you will understand better which one suits you. While at it, I will also advise that you sum it up by consulting a lawyer to give you further advice or help for the actual registration.

      Like

  32. Hey James, are you doing any personal – one on one- mentoring right now? I am looking for someone to help advance my thinking and your writing tells me you are a thought leader.

    Like

  33. it needs commitment but very true

    Like

  34. Higenyi Ismael edrisa

    I didn’t know car wash was a business not until now I am making, 180000ugx per month
    Alhamudlillah
    God bless the one who posted this. And that amount is for only three cars ask how much I earn per month because I have more two cars I wash
    God is great because He brought people like you

    Like

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