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.


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.

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.

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

  1. Muliro Bashir Murashi

    I Like It, More Please

  2. Its encouraging, I need more

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

  4. i have really enjoyed your piece

  5. thank you James for your advise.,

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

  7. 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

    • 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.

      • 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??????

      • 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

    • 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

    • 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.

  13. 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

    • 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.

  14. 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.

    • 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?

  15. yiki Richard

    how can I startup asmall cosmetic business with 1000000 $

    • 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.

  16. yiki Richard

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


    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.

    • 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.

  18. Lindio Winny foreigners need to pay work permit to operate small businesses too?

  19. 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.

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

    • Please go here 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.

  21. 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.

  22. it needs commitment but very true

  23. Higenyi Ismael edrisa

    I didn’t know car wash was a business not until now I am making, 180000ugx per month
    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

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