Recently, there has been a growing number of small manufacturing business ideas in Kenya.
The Kenyan government is striving to improve the country’s competitiveness on international markets by supporting small and medium-sized industries and developing local skills and resources. This will create new jobs for skilled labor which are more attractive than informal employment or unemployment.
Small manufacturing businesses in Kenya
Here we will discuss some ideas that can help you generate a lot of revenue.
Soap making is a great way to get started because it doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients.
All you need is measuring cups and spoons, a stovetop pot, and containers for your finished product.
It’s also easy to find recipes online if you’re not sure where to start!
Personal care products
Another opportunity is to make your own personal care products, like shampoo, lotion, or soap.
This can be a very lucrative business because people are always looking for the most natural and organic ingredients possible.
A metal fabrication company
This is what is commonly known as the ‘juakali’ industry .
Steel or aluminum products are manufactured out of metal raw materials.
You can make castings from molten metal, such as iron or bronze.You can also make items made of metal such as gates, tables ,chairs and wheelbarrows.
A furniture company
Carpentry is one such skill that has been perfected in Kenya for many years now.
You can establish a furniture company that makes products such as tables, chairs ,desks and beds from wood or metal.
If you have carpentry skills , then you can start a business in this field and sell the items to nearby schools, churches or hospitals.
You can make artifacts for sale. All that is required are some simple tools like hand drills, handsaws, hammers and chisels as well as a work table and some storage space.
Kenya’s tourism industry is thriving and there is a big opportunity for you to sell curios and handmade artifacts to tourists.
This is a low-cost and sustainable small business that can make an income from the tourist industry.
This entails creating traditional handmade crafts like bead work, basketry, pottery, weaving or even metalworking as long as it’s something you can do from home.
All you need is a simple loom which can be made from bamboo or other easily sourced materials as well as the raw material like cotton and hemp to make your own basketry. You can make a range of baskets from simple hand-held ones to large ones that can be used for storage.
Manufacturing of leather goods and accessories.
This entails making leather products such as handbags, bags, shoes, jackets, belts and gloves.
This is a home based business idea in Kenya that will require the entrepreneur to have a sewing machine or get one on credit from their local bank or sacco.The profit margins are high because of the low overhead costs.
The artisan can do a lot more than just stitching, they can also make shoes from scratch. This may require purchasing leather which is available locally.
Manufacturing of shoes, boots, slippers or sandals.
To make footwear , you need a number of machines such as sewing machine, peg-cutting machine for soles and heels, lasts (molds) from which shoes are made.
Besides machinery, there are raw materials like leather or rubber that need to be processed before they can be used in making footwear.You can source rubbers from the local markets .
For low-cost footwear production, leather can be used directly without any additional processing steps to make the sole of a shoe.
You can make money by molding plastics for items such as household ware, garden pots and plant container holders.
You would need a machine to melt the plastic together onto the pre-made object before it cools down. This will cost you around Ksh 100,000 which you can import from China and save on time and money.
Once you have the equipment and molds, all that’s left to do is invest in producing your product.
Compared with wood products or metal goods production labour costs are low so it’s easy for small businesses to thrive on this type of production.
One of the benefits to this type of production is that your company can be quite mobile, meaning you don’t need a lot of space in order to get started and all materials are made from plastic which means it won’t take up too much room.
This opportunity is profitable as you don’t need to keep an inventory on hand, instead simply order more materials when they run low so you won’t have any large upfront costs either.
This can be a profitable business in Kenya since all the toothpicks that are sold in Kenya are imported mostly from China.
You will need to invest in raw materials such as bamboo and tooth pick processing equipment which you can order from Alibaba and have it imported to Kenya.
You can make a lot of money , since toothpicks are always in high demand.
With proper marketing and distribution, toothpick production could be an international success!
Manufacturing of fabric and clothing
Tailoring can be a good opportunity especially for women in Kenya.
This can also be an option to all the young fashion designers out there looking to create their own garments and sell them on platforms like Etsy or eBay.
You will need: sewing machine, fabric, buttons, thread etc. The materials may cost about KSh 2000-5000.
Manufacturing of Fashion accessories
Nowadays there are many people looking to buy handmade fashion accessories like beaded necklaces and bracelets.A perfect example is the famous Kenyan bracelet that is worn by almost every Kenyan citizen.
This is the perfect opportunity for jewelry designers who could invest in beads, clasps and other materials such as wire or lace work.
Manufacturing of paper products
If you are good in graphic design this is one of the best opportunity to generate income.All that you require is an idea and a set of tools like paper, pencils, marker pens etc.
You can start by designing personalized greeting cards for weddings and birthdays.
Manufacturing of other types of packaging products
Gift bag manufacturers in Kenya are few, and so opportunities for this sector of the industry could be quite profitable.
Since the ban of plastic bags in Kenya, the demand for other types of packaging has increased.
The most popular type of these bags are the ones made from cloth, which can be either woven or knitted into any shape and size. Cloth is an excellent material to use because it’s light weight, biodegradable and recyclable.
There’s also a wide variety of other types of bags that can be made by hand such as paper.
The process is not complicated and anyone with the skills to sew, weave or knit could master making these products in a short period of time.
Creating and Selling Candles
Making candles can be done cheaply with just an oven or heat gun. You’ll need wax (liquid paraffin), wicking (specially designed wire) for the inside of your candle container, fragrance for smell, and containers to put your candles in.
Start by melting the wax in a pan on lowest heat possible (or use an oven or heat gun) until it becomes liquid.Then pour the melted wax into candle-shaped molds for at least two hours before removing from mold for cooling then pour a few drops of fragrance oil onto top and set aside.
Once the wax has cooled, you can insert a wick into the candle containers then pour melted wax over top and let it cool completely before removing from the container for final touch-ups.
How to start a small manufacturing business in Kenya
Register your company
Ponder whether you want your company to be a sole proprietorship, limited liability partnership or corporation.
You will need different levels of insurance coverage depending on how you structure your business and which legal entity type you choose.
Find the right location
You can either own your property or rent one. A building with a lot of space is an ideal location for this type of business, but you will need to find the right place in terms of zoning laws.
You may have to lease a building or buy an abandoned warehouse, and then invest in remodeling it into offices, workrooms and storage areas . Most manufacturers also rent out some space on their premises as shared office space for other small companies that do not require a permanent presence in the building .
A second consideration is sources of funding. You can try to borrow from family or friends; get loans from banks or saccos – which have shorter repayment periods; or sell a share of the company to investors.
Acquire the necessary equipment
Next agenda is to identify the type of equipment you need to start your company .
This includes machinery such as cutting tables, drill presses and machine tools; hand tools for assembly work like hammers and chisels; various types of software that help manage inventory, production schedules and shipping; and basic office supplies such as pens, paper clips and cardboard boxes.
A fourth consideration is the workforce for your company .
You can employ people directly or hire contract workers from staffing agencies that specialize in placing individuals with temporary jobs.
Hiring employees means you have to deal with payroll ,taxes, training programs and other legal requirements . Contract workers, on the other hand, may be less expensive in terms of wages and benefits .
You should also consider what type of skills your company will need.
For example, if you are starting a metal fabrication business ,you’ll want to hire someone with welding experience that can cut sheet metals into desired shapes and then assemble them into a finished product.
The idea of manufacturing in Kenya is not new, but it has yet to be fully explored. With the right support and mentorship from other companies that have successfully begun this process before them,young entrepreneurs can make a real impact on their community.
Now more than ever, we need innovation and entrepreneurship at every level – so if you’re an entrepreneur with great ideas for Kenyan business owners or someone who would like to help provide resources for budding small businesses leaders there’s never been a better time.