Business ideas to help you thrive in tough economic climate

A general view of parking lots in Nairobi taken on October 1, 2021. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

It is a paradox that the economy is growing at a time companies are closing shop, downsizing, or simply struggling to stay afloat in a tough business climate.

Many startups are not lasting long either, hardly seeing their third birthdays.

And given the many copycats that mushrooms up in name of competition, aiming for the same segment of clients an established business is serving, as can be seen by the shoulder to shoulder stalls stocking similar products, it is not hard to see why many struggles to survive.


At times, it pays to think of business models that can wither competition or some would consider as weird. Here are a few ideas, though some may be capital intensive:

 Parking lots

With ‘reserved parking’ dotting every available slot in the streets, investing in a multistoried parking lot is one way to go.

With the number of personal cars on an increase, finding a parking space across the street is becoming tough.

Some private investors charge a standard fixed amount for a couple of hours or by hourly rates, with users paying way above what the county authorities’ charge.

Garbage collection

Many estates are replete with poor garbage services, with uncollected garbage becoming an eyesore where the authorities fail.

This line doesn’t seem to attract much interest from investors, but it can be lucrative.

What with real estates mushrooming everywhere with once-sleepy rural hinterlands witnessing gated estates as arable land diminishes?

A garbage truck collects the waste during broad daylight along Konange street. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

And an estate looking like a litter fill will not likely attract prospective tenants to the area.

Who would wish to live in a place choking with a bad smell?

 Borehole services

Water shortage has become a chronic issue in many places, with rationing seeing a trickle in the taps that is inadequate to meet daily domestic and business needs.

It is not uncommon to see handcart pushers in the middle of the town’s central business districts or water bowsers selling the vital commodity to businesses.

In places where the homes and businesses are not connected with piped water from the local county authorities, individual investors have stepped in and piped homes and premises with metered water.

Fitness and exercise business

Increasingly, many individuals are becoming self-conscious of their body image, and are investing a lot in trimming that extra body fat or slimming to acquire that ‘killer’ figure.

What immediately comes to mind when it comes to fitness and exercise is subscribing to a gym membership.

The sedentary lifestyle of some, coupled with little or no exercise, has seen obesity and lifestyle diseases rise, and an investment in a gym would be a worthwhile business.

In some upmarket gyms, a session lasting 45 minutes goes for anything from Sh300 for non-members.

Body art

The secular society no longer sees tattooing and piercings in weird places as signs of rebellion and has gradually accepted worldly fads the young generation is identifying with.

Being ‘in sync’ with the modern trends has seen the mushrooming of tattoo parlours which also offer other services on the side like massaging and dreadlocks.

With the youths investing more in appearance, there is a catch for those in the body art industry as this is a business segment with a steady customer base.

Farming rare delicacies

Different cultures on earth love eating what others consider distasteful.

How about walking into a restaurant and asking for a tasteful dish only to learn what you ate is from something that would make your stomach revolt?

Take snails for example. They are a common sight in rural areas, and many do not regard them as a delicacy or likens them to the slimy slugs that they would dare touch.

Well, the good news is breeding snails is a fortune generating venture. A kilo of snail meat goes higher than a similar quantity of beef or mutton. The yucky is becoming yummy!

Printing and selling stickers

You probably have seen funny stickers in public transport vehicles. 

Think of coming up with funny or crazy one-liner stickers that you can sell to those in the matatu industry.

The same goes for designing, printing and selling on-demand T-Shirts – like those that support a cause to action or raise awareness on something.


You don’t need to have any inventory in this line. It may sound crazy to take photos of items from manufacturers or suppliers, make a gallery with pricing on each item and post them on your social media accounts as your online store and look for customers.

When interested buyers express interest, all they have to do is send you money and you purchase that item and send it to them and still make a profit!

 Create digital courses

You have stumbled on those social media posts that ask one to drop or inbox their numbers to be sent how-to video tutorials on making a variety of recipes or home crafts like shaggy mats and so on.

You probably have realised the poster will ask you for a certain amount in order to receive the video or an eBook guide.

You can create similar digital content and upload it to sites that offer free digital downloads app and market it as a digital product.