15 Worst Businesses To Start In Kenya 2024 (And Alternatives!)

Not every business you start thrives in Kenya. Some are outdated, while others don’t resonate with the citizens’ needs, making them the worst businesses to start in Kenya.

Some of the worst businesses to start in Kenya include betting companies, offline taxis, music shops, pet shops, matatu business, photography, internet cafe, DVD rental store, political blogging, and shylock business.

In this piece, we will explore:

  • Top 15 worst business ideas to start in Kenya
  • Why you should pass them
  • Alternative businesses you can venture into
The worst businesses to start in  Kenya

Let’s take an inside look!

Some of The Worst Businesses To Start In Kenya

In a hurry? Here is a summary of the 15 worst businesses to start in Kenya.

Worst BusinessReason
1. Betting FirmHigh taxes, government interference,  and extremely risky
2.Offline Taxi BusinessOutdated and high competition
3.Political BloggingHarassment, seasonal, endless cases, and life threats
4.Shylock BusinessExtremely risky, no witness, and tainted reputation
5.DVD Rental StoreOutdated and no demand
6.Traditional Print MediaOutdated and low demand.
7.Pet ShopsVery low demand
8.Music ShopOutdated with no demand
9.Internet CafeOutdated
10.Insurance CompanyHigh start-up capital and extremely risky
11.Tender BusinessPotential corruption, fierce competition, and delayed  payment
12.Matatu BusinessFuel price fluctuations and regulatory challenges 
13.Charcoal SellingLow demand and environmental degradation
14.Photography Low demand
15.Manufacturing and Production BusinessHigh taxes, capital intensive, and fierce competition

1. Starting a Betting Firm

Betting firms in Kenya

Although there will always be a high demand for betting services in Kenya, the entry requirements are extremely challenging. 

To start your betting firm, you must acquire all the necessary licenses and face high competition from established rivals. Additionally, you should be ready for the government’s indefinite closure of your business.

Alternative Business: If you have the necessary amount to start a betting firm, you can venture into the Sacco business instead. Reason? 

The Sacco services are in high demand and profitable as well. Moreover, you can always start small and grow gradually. 

2. Starting an Offline Taxi Business

This era calls for the digitalization of almost every business, from retail supermarkets to taxis.

People are finding their way to their destinations with a click of a button.

Operating an offline taxi business where you must source clients by word of mouth is extremely difficult. You don’t have to go through this!

Alternative Business: the best way to go about this venture is to explore online taxi service provision and combine this with car hire. This will allow you to maximize profits as you grow your taxi business. 

3. Starting a Political Blog Business.

Political blogging involves creating and sharing political content, which can sometimes be negative. It’s a highly lucrative business if you’re only concerned about money.

However, it’s a dangerous path to tread on as you may get into conflict with politicians, resulting in blackmail, kidnapping, threat, and arrest. You might also have to endure endless cases.

Alternative Business: If you like writing and sharing helpful information in a specific niche, you can invest in blogging. Apply SEO strategy to draw high traffic, then monetize your blog to reap big bucks.

4. Starting a Shylock Business

Growing up, we encountered one person in our area who used to lend people money with daily interest charges. The conflict and multiple cases they had to handle were overwhelming.

While shylock business will never go out of demand, it’s highly risky as borrowers can easily run off with your money. Moreover, there are no written agreements to show proof the borrowers owe you.

Alternative Business: To avoid all the hustle of the loan shark business, you can venture into registered lending. Set up an app and benefit from government measures to collect your money back.

5. Starting a DVD Rental Business

With new TV versions where you can just plug in a USB and watch whatever you want or log into streaming services, DVD renting has become outdated.

Not to mention the rise of YouTube movie uploads that give everyone with a smartphone access to quality movies. Investing in this business will frustrate you as it has very low demand.

Alternative Business: If you are a movie fanatic and would love to explore a close field. You can venture into movie recaps and share them on YouTube. 

These shorts garner very high traffic, which, when monetized, translates into high profits. 

Movie recap alternative to DVD rental shop

6. Starting a Traditional Print Media

With the availability of digital media in every online space, print media like magazines and newspapers are becoming irrelevant by the day.

Let’s face it, when was the last time you bought a newspaper or magazine?

Alternative Business: To avoid putting your money down the drain, you can venture into a news site instead. Think of big names like TUKO, The Star, and Nation; they are reaping big from sharing news and trends online.

7. Setting up a Pet Shop

Pet shops sell exotic feeds and accessories such as leashes. For most Kenyans, these are irrelevant products, with only a few affluent adopting such lifestyles.

Investing in pet shops may leave you facing low demand and high competition from e-commerce platforms such as Kilimall.

Alternative Business: Establishing a business that resonates with most Kenyans’ needs, like an agrovet, can help you reap big. Nevertheless, you have to ensure that you establish the agrovet in a strategic location.

8. Starting a Music Shop

Music shop business

Earlier on, music shops were in high demand, with most of us flocking to get our favorite songs uploaded to our phones and compact disks. 

Times have changed with the introduction of platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify. Most people are crowding the digital spaces to listen and download their favorite music with a click of a button, leaving you with no demand.

Alternative Business: To avoid incurring hefty losses, you can venture into a phone repair and electronics shop. Reason? Phone repair services and electronic products will always be in high demand.

9. Internet Cafe Business

Internet cafes provide their customers with internet and charge them per minute or per hour. 

With the rise of MIFI, WiFi, and bundle offers, everyone has access to the Internet anywhere, anytime. Not to mention, the availability of free WiFi in public places makes it even harder for individuals to visit an Internet cafe in this age.

Alternative Business: A WiFi distribution business is a great alternative that will allow you to earn an income monthly as your subscribers make their payments regularly. 

10. Starting an Insurance Company

Insurance companies provide financial protection services by selling policies. Typically, the customers pay premiums, and depending on the agreement, they receive payment in case of an event or when a specific timeline elapses.

The fact that insurance firms run on unpredictable events such as accidents or the health status of their clients can be quite uncertain. And you might have to gear huge losses after using high capital amounts to start up.

Alternative Business: If you have an educational background in finance or business, set up a consultancy firm instead and provide advice to business people and individuals who need help with financial planning.

Also Read: Simple Untapped Business Ideas to Start In Kenya

11. Government Tender Business

Venturing into government tendering can be lucrative. Unfortunately, it comes with monetary and nonfinancial woes.

The process of acquiring a tender is long, with numerous verifications. Again, securing a tender demands connections with possible corruption and massive capital requirements.

Moreover, you might have to deal with delayed payments after all this hustle. 

Alternative Business: The best alternative is to venture into general wholesale business and specialize in a line that matches your area’s demands. You can supply shopkeepers with packed food and toiletries, among other in-demand products.

12. Matatu Business

A day in a matatu business

Public service vehicle business faces challenges from every corner, including fuel fluctuations, traffic, car maintenance, insurance, and bribes. 

And although it can be a lucrative venture, breaking into this space and growing to enjoy the huge benefits of it is extremely difficult.

Alternative Business: Venturing into the car hire business will help you avoid all the unnecessary difficulties on the road and reap big. Moreover, you can control your rates depending on your preferences and needs without anyone questioning you.

13. Charcoal Selling Business

Charcoal has faced numerous better options, lowering its demand. With cooking gas and solutions such as KOKO, the charcoal business faces high competition.

Moreover, charcoal causes deforestation and degrades the environment, making it one of the worst businesses to start in Kenya.

Alternative Business: Supplying clean cooking solutions such as gas and partnering with companies such as KOKO can help you reap huge monetary benefits as they are always in demand.

14. Starting a Photography Business in Kenya

 A person taking a photo with a smartphone

Smartphones come with state-of-the-art cameras, making it easy for individuals to take photos in the comfort of their homes. Moreover, the availability of portable and affordable cameras reduces the demand for photographers.

Investing in a photo studio may result in losses and frustrations. But you don’t have to go down this road.

Alternative Business: Videography is a key service in almost all occasions-from weddings and graduations to ordinations. People want to keep memories of outstanding life events. You can venture into this field and earn as you do what you love.

15. Manufacturing and Production Business

Manufacturing and production business is a lucrative space when you find the right product. However, it’s saturated and requires half a million or above to start.

Moreover, the current economic times have posed challenges such as high taxes and numerous requirements. As a result, most investors find it difficult to venture and profit from this business.

Alternative Business: Finding a unique product or venturing into untapped fields can help you eliminate high competition. It’s also important to evaluate the production costs of the product and government requirements before investing your money.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which Small Business is Most Profitable in Kenya?

Fruit stand, ebook publishing, laundry business, mobile hairdressing, errand service, affiliate marketing, and mitumba clothes selling are among the most profitable small business ideas in Kenya. 

2. What Is the Fastest Growing Business in Kenya?

Lipa Mdogo Mdogo, loan apps, marketing, and internet distribution are the fastest-growing businesses in Kenya.


Understanding the market demands and conditions can help you avoid the worst businesses to start in Kenya, helping you build a lucrative enterprise.

To learn more about businesses and ideal opportunities to help you make money, explore these ideas.

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Written by Alex

Written by Alex

I have passion in helping people Make, Manage, Multiply & Protect Wealth.Download my Free Guide to Financial Freedom >>[ GET IT HERE]<<