Africa Business Ideas

Best Business Ideas to Startup in East Africa for 2021

faceless man leading caravan of camels in dry desert
  • As the times are uncertain, investing in small or medium scale businesses is the safest, lowest risk, and cheapest option
  • Tourism, Distance Learning, Computer and Smartphone Maintenance, Digital Marketing, Computer Training, Jewellery Making, Export Facilitator, and Courier Services are some of the best options for startups
  • The World Economic Forum forecasts that the region’s direct travel and tourism GDP will grow by 60% from 2018 to 2029

The whole world is currently suffering economically from the effects of COVID-19. Large economies are shrinking at steep rates. As the times are uncertain, investing in small or medium scale businesses is the safest, lowest risk, and cheapest option. To make profit and support economies, we’ve come up with some of the best business ideas to startup in East Africa. 


East Africa offers a wide range of attractions to tourists from the Great Pyramids in Egypt, Kenyan safaris and tropical beaches, the Sahara in Sudan, Lake Victoria Uganda, Ethiopia’s rich historical sites, picturesque Moroccan cities, and much much more. You can set up your own travel company, encouraging more local people to visit African countries and attract foreign tourists. The World Economic Forum forecasts that the region’s direct travel and tourism GDP will grow by 60% from 2018 to 2029. This provides a great business opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors willing to put their money in the tourism sector.

Distance Learning

Distance Education business requires a group of technology-friendly tutors, web designer, app developers, and content writers. If you’re a person who is leaning towards teaching, then this business a huge scope for you. Creating your own educational platform or investing in others’ could be very profitable in the current scenario. You can even record video lessons and write learning materials to upload onto your site. Students can access these whenever they please, and you don’t have to teach lessons live.

Computer and smartphone maintenance

Every person carries a smartphone these days, which usually get technical or software defects. Many East African customers will not have the money to buy a new phone if this happens and prefer repairing their phones instead. It gives software and hardware technicians a great opportunity to startup a low-cost repair store. The same case applies to computers and laptops too.

So, starting a computer and mobile repairing showroom with small initial investments will be beneficial. Anyone that’s visited an East African market will have come across many small stores offering repair services. Being able to do this well, quickly and cheaply will separate your business from competitors. 

Digital Marketing Firm

Times are changing, and so is the way most businesses operate. The majority of the companies are coming online, so need web developers, digital advertisers and analysts. Launching your a digital marketing firm that helps businesses with SEO, content writing, research analytics, and social media marketing could prove very lucrative and profitable. The great thing about this type of business is that you can set up remotely, and anywhere in the world, so long as you have a laptop and internet connection. 

Computer Training

Demand for computer learning and software training is growing daily. So, launching your own computer training hub with some tutors could be great. Taking your classes online and promoting them through digital marketing will also attract students. Again like a Distance Learning business, you can pre-record training lessons and write learning materials to upload onto your site, which students can access whenever.

Jewellery making

East Africa offers excellent scope for the manufacturing sector, especially in jewellery making. The region is filled with mineral, natural resources, and artistic culture to use for making jewellery.

The demand for handmade jewellery and African design is vast, especially in Western Countries or tourists travelling in Africa who want something cultural to take home. Handmade jewellery can also be exported to other countries in large quantities at lower tariffs than other products such as food or manufactured electronics. So there is room to make money internationally. 

Export Facilitator

At present, the African market lacks the required number of exporters. Its manufacturing sector relies on proper export guidance to send their products internationally. Export businesses or services with reliable product sourcing mechanisms can bring more international buyers and sellers together.

Suppose you have international buyers or sellers outside of East Africa and the right transport channels. You can become an export facilitator, and help East African businesses transport and sell goods to international buyers, or vice-versa help international sellers transport and sell goods to East Africa. This will benefit you, your customers, and also assist in East Africa’s economic development.

Courier services

Courier or parcel delivering services are always widespread in the market. You need to look out for some parcel delivery people and register your agency. After that, you can establish links with online selling platforms, nearby retailers, and wholesalers. Choose this line of business only if you are patient enough. It will take at least a year to get the desired Return on Investment (ROI). 

Amin Bilal is a business consultant, founder of, and content creator. He specialises in advising SMEs and large multinational corporations solve finance, operational, and technological problems.

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