Business opportunities in Kenya for youth: Lessons from young Kenyan entrepreneurs

Everywhere you look, you will see plenty of exciting business opportunities in Kenya for youth. But as you know, starting and running a successful business in Kenya takes more than luck.

I want to inspire you as a Kenyan youth by sharing lessons from young Kenyan entrepreneurs who were once where you’re but have today build massive business empires.

Think of young Kenyan Entrepreneurs like Rajiv Mehta(Tangerine Investments), Lorna Rutto (EcoPost), and Moses Mureithi (Fanaka real estate).

In spite of starting in their 20’s, these three have beaten all the odds and risen to become luminaries in the Kenyan entrepreneurship scene.

And you can get lots of lessons from their journeys.

Grab a seat and let’s learn…

Lorna Rutto, Ecopost Kenya

She is yet to hit 30 but Lorna Rutto is one of the most renowned Kenyan entrepreneurs who started small.

Besides being recognized as one of Lionesses of Africa, Lorna was named in the prestigious best Forbes best young entrepreneurs list in 2013.

Interestingly, despite today hobnobbing with the big wig entrepreneurs across the Globe, Lorna grew up in Kaptembwa slums.

She worked hard in school- like all Kenyan youth do- and graduated with a B.Com degree.

And unlike some of us who equate looking for employment in Kenya to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack, Lorna soon found a job in one of Kenya’s top banks.

But her passion lay elsewhere.

And so she decided to focus on one of the top unexploited business opportunities in Kenya for youth then- manufacturing eco-friendly posts.

Lorna subsequently founded celebrated Kenyan firm Ecoplast and she has never looked back.

Here are some tips from Lorna’s inspirational entrepreneurship.

1.     Passion is King

Lorna had purposed to make money from her passion from her childhood days in Kaptembwa slums.

She hated the filth and litter in her neighborhood and had a burning desire to do something about it from her youth.

And despite her finding a solid job in banking, she stuck to her passion.

Bottom-line? Passion is king for success in entrepreneurship.

You can start by identifying your passion and looking for a market gap that matches it. Who knows? You might be the next Lorna Rutto!

2.     Set clear goals and follow them

Lorna knew she won’t be long in employment. She seemingly had set eyes on using her job as a stepping stone (capital-wise) to her entrepreneurial dreams.

I can imagine the sacrifices she made – avoiding luxuries and leaving frugally in order to save for her business capital.

And true to her goals, she quit and went on to co-found Ecoplast with a partner.

Key lesson? Like all upcoming entrepreneurs in Kenya will tell you, it’s vital that you have a clear map of what you’re doing and where you want to go if you want to make it in business.

Sit down and come up with a plan. And don’t give up on it until you scale the entrepreneurship heights.

 

Rajiv Mehta (Tangerine Investments)

Nobody believed him at the start but 33 year old serial entrepreneur Rajiv Mehta has curved out a niche for himself in Kenya’s competitive advertising industry.

He credits his rise to become one of top self made millionaires in Kenya to his childhood tribulations.

You see, Rajiv lost his dad while he was still at the university and he had to subsequently drop out of university.

Further misfortune followed him and he was soon thrown out of the family’s business due to internal politics.

He had nothing on him as this happened.

Rajiv’s biggest motivation came from something his uncle told him- that he needed to earn his own money (like other men!)

His first hustle was selling cheap car accessories – he got capital from selling a couple of shares he had and borrowing from his mum.

How did Rajiv land in the cutthroat Advertising segment?

Rajiv was struggling to make ends meet for his young family and he decided to try something different.

And after intensive research, he got his light bulb moment- advertising it was!

He again borrowed, but this time, from his wife and started the advertising business.

If you see an ad in a Matatu or a billboard in the streets of Nairobi today, it most likely comes from Rajiv’s company.

What can we learn from Rajiv’s career?

3.      Don’t wait for an opportune time

There is no perfect time to open a business.

Indeed, your youthful years might be the best to start since you’ll have abundant time to test different ideas.

You’re also extremely energetic when young and hence able to work harder.

Rajiv started immediately after dropping from the university –he was pretty young and had no capital. But he knew he had to take charge of his own life and chose to act.

4.      Patience pays

If you think that you will become an overnight success in entrepreneurship, then you are in for the shock of your life.

Look at Rajiv, for instance.

For over 10 years, he has painstakingly worked on his ideas, well aware that entrepreneurship success comes to those who wait.

The following formula summarizes it all…

Business success= loads of patience + hard work

That’s how to succeed in business in Kenya.

You can read Rajiv’s amazing story on Forbes.

Moses Muriithi  (Fanaka real estate)

Real estate millionaire Moses Muriithi is another of the incredible Kenyan entrepreneurs who started small now.

And he found himself in one of the seemingly difficult business opportunities in Kenya for youth.

I say difficult because many youths believe that you need millions to conquer the burgeoning real estate industry.

Well, according to Muriithi, nothing can be further from the truth.

Instead, it’s all about being strategic and playing your cards right…

His story?

Moses thought that he can do something with his HELB money while at Kenyatta University (Those students who always party out their HELB loans should hear this..)

But he was conscious that it would be insufficient to venture into real estate.

And so he would look for online jobs for students from where he made more savings.

That’s how Fanaka real estate was born.

Today, the firm is nearly worth shs.100 million from the meager Sh40,000  starting capital!

Again, Mureithi’s story has powerful teachings….

5.      You don’t need any special skills/talents

You don’t require to be specially trained or gifted or for entrepreneurial blood to flow through your family to win in business.

Instead, you need to nurture a burning desire to succeed in addition to having an unyielding commitment towards your dream.

Mureithi devotion saw him save his HELB cash besides working online overnight in order to accumulate capital to buy his first plot..

6.      Don’t believe the naysayers

Mureithi was told that real estate is one of the insanely tough investment opportunities in Kenya.

But he didn’t cower though the odds were heavily stacked against him as a young man, proving the naysayers wrong.

The difference between Muriithi and you is that he didn’t allow the negative opinions to get into his head as some Kenyan youth do.

My advice? If you believe in an idea- despite pessimistic opinions from friends-, go for it!

After all,  those tough-looking business opportunities in Kenya for youth are often the most rewarding.

 

How to use the above lessons to exploit business opportunities in Kenya for youth

There are tens of thrilling business opportunities in Kenya for youth but you have to be strategic.

You can commence by brainstorming for business ideas/opportunities matching your interests. You should then set smart business goals.

Above all, as we have learned from the aforementioned success stories, you require the patience of a saint.

Then, keep working hard and don’t listen to doomsayers.

Overall, I can guarantee you this: entrepreneurship in Kenya is as rewarding as anywhere else if you do things right.

I will be highlighting some of the emerging business opportunities in Kenya for youth in the next article. Stay tuned and good luck.

Leave a Comment