Do you reside in a third world country and you feel the itch to start a business? If YES, here are 50 best small business ideas for developing countries. Choosing a business niche and starting a business is a difficult ordeal, more so if you are in a developing country. With problems ranging from unstable economics, dilapidated health care and infrastructures, political factors and of course unreliable power supply, making a business work is hard work in many developing countries.
However a lot of people have been able to make it work. Mike Adenuga, Patrice Motsepe, Mohamed Al-Fayed, Shyam Bhartia among others have proved that even if you are in a developing country, you can still be really successful as an entrepreneur. Where most people saw challenges, these people were able to see opportunities which they took advantage of. Here are a few profitable business ideas for developing countries.
50 Best Small Business ideas for Developing Countries
Table of Content
- 1. Garbage and waste collection
- 2. Day care center
- 3. Farming
- 4. Real estate
- 5. Barber shop and salons
- 6. Freelancing
- 7. Blog
- 8. Solar power
- 9. Smart phones
- 10. Tutorial centers
- 11. Fruit juice kiosk
- 12. Garment making
- 13. Art
- 14. Apps and online services
- 15. Payment solutions
- 16. Financing startups
- 17. Travel agency
- 18. Mobile recharge shop
- 19. YouTube Channel
- 20. Handcraft lessons
- 21. Music teacher
- 22. Sports coaching
- 23. Tour guide
- 24. Cooking classes
- 25. Breakfast joint
- 26. Alternative source of fuel
- 27. Fuel savers
- 28. Importation and exportation
- 29. Selling used items
- 30. Meat store
- 31. Security services
- 32. Recruitment agency
- 33. E-commerce
- 34. Survey and data collection
- 35. Alternative source of energy
- 36. Procurement services
- 37. Haulage and transportation
- 38. Data encryption
- 39. Educational consultancy
- 40. Laundry services
- 41. Repair services
- 42. Healthcare
- 43. Computer business center
- 44. Accounting
- 45. Business plan service
- 46. Car wash service
- 47. Computer training
- 48. Personal trainer
- 49. Translation service
- 50. Moving service
Pollution and waste disposal problems have always been one of the many problems that a lot of developing countries have in common. By developing a solution to effectively dispose these garbage and waste, entrepreneurs can make a lot of money. You can take the garbage to the appropriate source and get as many items recycled.
For example, in the year 2009, Lorna Rutto, a citizen of Kenya resigned from her bank job to start a business called Eco post. The business she conceived revolved around recycling plastics which are sourced from different dumpsites and homes to make fencing posts. Today, Lorna now employs over 500 people in her company Eco post and she also makes more than $150,000 in a year.
Developing countries are dynamic and ever evolving. Most have moved or are trying to move from their agrarian roots to a more corporate business oriented environment. In a lot of cases, both of the parents of the kids work and as such, the services of a day care center that can take care of their kids while they are gone during the day is quite necessary. You can easily get a license, rent a building and then offer your quality services. If you are good at what you do, parents will recommend other parents to your establishment.
Tip: a surveillance camera and any other semblance of added security would be a plus as parents would trust leaving their kids in your care because of the extra precaution.
The best thing about farming is that you can hardly ever go wrong especially if you choose the right product. Farming is as old as time itself but it is still extremely profitable when well harnessed. You can approach supermarkets and stores and offer to supply them your fresh from farm products. Alternatively, you can also export your products to countries where they are in higher demand.
4. Real estate
Due to the increase in the number of rural urban migration in developing countries, lands and landed properties has been in increased demand. Real estate opportunities in developing countries are so diverse and pose an opportunity for everyone. Also, getting into and investing in real estate in developing countries is a lot easier as compared to the stringent processes that is obtainable in developed countries of the world.
You can profit in real estate by getting involved in land flipping (that is buying land, waiting for it to appreciate over a period of time and then selling it off for a profit), open space leasing (this involves buying a strategically located space and then leasing it out to others for temporary use), through rendering real estate agency services, development of properties and of course, buying a land building on it and then renting it out.
Barber shops and saloon owners are people who are into the art of making others look good. The business does not require a lot of capital to start and as such it is quite easy to start and manage as long as you have the required skill.
Freelancing is one of the fastest and cheapest businesses that anyone can start. There are a lot of websites out there that bring together people who have tasks that they need help completing and people who are willing to do it for a fee together.
Freelancing websites such as Fiverr, Upwork, Seoclerk among other have enabled a lot of people to work right from the comfort of their homes. These websites have a wide array of niches that one can choose from and specialize in such as graphics designing, digital marketing, video services, articles and e-book writing, advertisement, music, programming among others. You will get paid when you deliver on the service that the buyer has purchased from you.
A blog is an individual website that is updated on a regular basis. There are many different ways by which a blog can be monetized so you should not stick to just one. You can make money through blogging by putting up adverts on your blog, selling your own courses and books, affiliate marketing and of course Google AdSense. African bloggers like Ameyaus Debrah, Uche Pedro, Linda Ikeji among others earn thousands of dollars on a monthly basis just from blogging alone.
8. Solar power
Solar power is the most abundant and easy to source forms of energy; more so in tropical nations of the world. Most developing countries are plagued with the problem of epileptic electricity and the solar option provides a potential succor to this conundrum.
A lot of entrepreneurs have been able to take advantage of this void to create wealth for themselves and comfort for their community for example, M-KOPA, a solar energy provider in Kenya provides pay as you go solar power systems and it has attracted investment of up to 40 million dollars.
9. Smart phones
Smartphones represent one of the fastest selling items in the world today. For example, Africa which is made up of mainly developing countries is currently the second fastest growing market for smart phones, second only to Asia.
Due to the increase in technology and tech savviness, a lot of people are always on the lookout for better things in the smart phone industry. Plenty people are willing to upgrade their smartphone to the latest devices with better features. Granted, high end devices with top notch features from producers like Apple, Samsung and Blackberry may not enjoy full dominance in the smartphone scene of developing countries due to the fact that they carry quite a hefty price tag.
This has therefore created an opportunity for low priced smart phones that are hitting the market. A lot of these low priced smart phones are quite similar to the products from high end producers in style and in function. Plenty smart phone brands now exist in other to exploit this gap and make profit from it.
10. Tutorial centers
This simply involves tutoring and teaching students as an augmentation to their normal schooling activity. You can start up a tutorial center right from your house and thus eliminate the hassles of having to rent an additional space. You will also need to advertise your center through various ways such as the social media, flyers and of course word of mouth.
Everyone loves a cool drink of fruit juice on a hot day. Not only is it healthy, it is also quite refreshing. To start this business, all you need to do is to get a permit for a kiosk (if applicable in your country) that is located in a very strategic location. Rent the space and then set up your store. Your major raw material will be the fruits your use for making the juice.
12. Garment making
All over the world and in developing countries too, the demand for self-made cloths is constantly on the increase. A lot of people want designs that are tailor made for them according to their own specifications. Starting up as a tailor is also not too capital intensive. You will need a shop, a sewing and stitching machine and electricity to run the business effectively.
Making and selling art works and artifacts is big business. In fact, in November 2014, a collection of artworks from Mali, Gabon, Congo and Liberia were auctioned for an eye popping 41 million dollars. After many years of being looked down on, antique and contemporary works of art from developing countries have begun to gain popularity around the world today. Collecting and reselling art works can be a quite profitable venture if well harnessed.
These days, there has been an exponential rise in the use of technology. Take for example mobile apps. Almost every business now has an app. Whether you are in need of a hotel accommodation, movies or entertainment or just need to make a purchase from home, mobile applications exists that can provide a solution to all that. Creation, maintenance and updating of these mobile apps is a potential money spinner for individuals who are tech savvy enough.
Most transactions in developing countries are done in cash as they have not yet fully adopted the cashless economy. This has presented an opportunity which financially savvy entrepreneurs can take advantage of to make profit. M-Pesa has been introduced in East Africa to help curtail the use of cash in transactions between individuals. Also, in just one year, Paga a Nigerian based payment solution company has been able to gather 15 million dollars to invest and expand its business in Nigeria and abroad.
16. Financing startups
Even the most promising business ideas still face the hurdle of funding. Without the appropriate funding, the best business ideas can wither and die off. Investing in startups and business in its early stages has become quite popular in recent times due to its ability to be profitable in the long run, should the startup succeed that is. Startup companies have been attracting the interest of venture capitalists (VC), private equity and angel investors who will get a share of the company in the event that the business becomes successful after they have funded it.
17. Travel agency
There has never been a better time to put your money where your map is. As a travel agent, you will help your customers to select and organize their holiday or travel within their budget. You can open a home based travel agency by tying up with a host agency.
18. Mobile recharge shop
Even though online recharge is available in all counties of the world, mobile recharge cards still remain quite popular in a lot of developing countries. To start this business, you will need to rent a shop and also form ties with your network provider to be a distributor or a seller of their recharge card while earning a commission.
19. YouTube Channel
This is one of the most versatile and easy to start work from home idea. When well-managed, a YouTube channel can be just as or even more profitable than a traditional blog. For starters, you don’t require a domain nor do you need to spend money on hosting your channel.
You also have a large audience and a readymade platform for you to work with. Furthermore, AdSense approval through YouTube is easy and you can start earning from the very first day you create your account and make a post. You can just go to YouTube, upload a video and you can get started from there.
There are tons and tons of niches to choose from like online reviews, comedy, how-to, real estate, business, gaming, and motivation channels etc. Every day, over 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube and your video can be one of them. You can get paid by enabling Google AdSense on your channel, through sponsored videos and through sale of your services or the services of others on YouTube.
20. Handcraft lessons
If you are skilled in a particular handcraft like say pottery, basket making, weaving fabrics, tatting, macramé among others, you can make money not just by selling your handcraft but by also teaching it to others for a fee. You can take up individual classes or opt to take on all your students at once.
21. Music teacher
If you can sing or play a musical instrument, you can share this knowledge by being a music teacher which will help you to generate extra income.
22. Sports coaching
If you are skilled at a particular sport, with concrete understanding of the skills and technicalities involved in it, you can offer to coach amateurs. Your experience and skill at the sport will help to catch the attention of various sports academy who may hire you as an independent coach for a particular season.
23. Tour guide
Every country is blessed with its own tourist attractions irrespective of its state of development. One can open a tour guide business where travelers can not only make arrangements for tourist sites to visit but to also serve as a guide when they go to those sites. You can set up a website for your tour guide to get started.
24. Cooking classes
You can offer your services as a professional cook by organizing online and offline cooking lessons. For online cooking classes, you can create your own website or make use of platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to post videos or textual information on how some dishes are prepared. For offline lessons, you may have to look for a studio or hall on the days that you wish to hold your lesson.
25. Breakfast joint
Food is one of the basic needs of man and as such, a business that is built around it tends to do well especially if the food in question is well prepared and hygienic. To open a breakfast joint you will need a permit (if such is applicable in your country) a space or shop to sell your food and of course funds to prepare the food itself.
26. Alternative source of fuel
For most developing countries, sources of fuel are quite limited. Those that are common are petrol, diesel and kerosene. Moreover, the fuel sources are more often than not quite costly even in oil producing countries and to make matters even more critical, a lot of people make use of these fuels on a daily basis.
As such, when given the opportunity, people will most likely switch over to a cheaper alternative if presented with the choice. Bio-fuel and ethanol are viable alternatives that could replace them due to their cheap nature. Therefore by investing in the business, an entrepreneur can make a lot of money.
27. Fuel savers
As mentioned earlier, fuel is a big deal in developing countries, by producing products that consume lesser amount of fuel as opposed to their present alternative, good profit can be made by the innovator.
No country in the world has it all. Every country has to import what it has little or none of and export what it has. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of this and export exotic items that are present in his own country to other countries of the world that need the product and then import what his country needs. For example, you can export agricultural products like charcoal, bitter kola and cocoa while importing cloths, gadgets, solar panels etc.
29. Selling used items
Due to the fact the developing countries are made up of a lot of individuals who don’t earn a lot, selling used items is always a good way to make money. You can sell used cars, cloths, mobile phones, shoes etc.
30. Meat store
With the increase in hygiene awareness among developing countries, it is no wonder that people now go for prepackaged meat as opposed to those that are sold in open markets due to the unsanitary conditions that they pass through. If you can afford the equipment and the store, then opening a meat packaging and delivery business is a real good idea.
31. Security services
Security is one of the major concerns in developing countries and as such, influential individuals, neighborhoods, companies, schools etc. need to protect themselves from security threats. You can start a security outfit that specializes in protecting individuals and companies with the aid of sophisticated equipment. You can also earn a lot money by selling security gadgets such as electric fences, pepper spray, Taser, stun gun etc.
Unemployment rate in developing countries is quite high. In 2013, there were about 157.1 million unemployed people throughout the worlds developing nations. Among developing regions, East Asia has the largest unemployed workers followed by Sub-Sahara Africa. Therefore, any business that strives to reduce unemployment is likely to thrive. By being a bridge between companies who are in need of new employees and individuals who are in need of job, you can help people and also make money in the process.
The e-commerce wave did not spare any part of the world include the developing countries. From Jumia and Konga in Nigeria and other West African countries, Flipkart in India to Shophive in Pakistan, e-commerce websites have revolutionized the way we shop for our wants and need. You can make money and create jobs by starting your own e-commerce website where you will retail items for profit.
34. Survey and data collection
The government, international organizations and research institutes offer money to individuals and companies in developing countries to help them gather information about a particular area or topic in a particular niche. If you are skilled in data collection, you can open a company that does just that and make your profit.
35. Alternative source of energy
The source of energy for powering up a business in a constant problem being faced by third world entrepreneurs. More often than not, they have to generate their own power which may not come cheap. By exploring other sources of energy which individuals can use to power up their businesses, an entrepreneur can make money. Alternative sources of energy include solar energy, geothermal energy, and wind energy. You can also make a lot of money by importing and selling generators.
36. Procurement services
A high demand exists for procurement services for government projects and other capital projects. Therefore if you have a source where you can purchase items at a cheaper rate, you can start your own procurement agency and take advantage of this.
Goods and human beings need to be moved from one location to the other on a daily basis therefore transportation of human beings and goods is a profitable business.
38. Data encryption
In the same way that human beings engage the services of security outfits so as to secure their lives and property, government agencies, banks and all sorts of companies need to protect their data from hackers. If you are skilled in data encryption and protection, you can provide your service to them for a fee.
Due to the poor standard of education in many developing countries, some of her citizens who can afford it opt to study abroad. As an education consultancy service provider, you will need to offer expert advice on studying abroad and also help the prospective students to package their application and sort out visa and traveling issues.
40. Laundry services
Everyone loves to look good, smart and neat but not everyone has the time, skill or patience to do their laundry themselves. A lot of people are willing to pay so that their dirty items of clothing can be washed and ironed for them.
41. Repair services
If you have a skill for repairing damaged electrical and mechanical equipment’s, you can make huge money off it by monetizing this skill. As we all know, repairing damaged equipment is always cheaper than getting new ones so people are willing to part with their money in repairs rather than out rightly purchasing a new one.
Healthcare facilities such as hospitals and pharmacies are few and far in between in developing countries and as such they are not enough to cater for the ever growing population. If you are a healthcare professional or an entrepreneur with enough funds to undertake such a project, you can establish a modern hospital or pharmacy.
43. Computer business center
Even though a good number of people in developing countries now have laptops at their disposal, there are still a lot of individuals who are not skilled in its use. You can offer such services in a computer business center like typing of documents, photocopying, scanning, laminating, design of pamphlets and flyers among others.
If you have an accounting degree, you can put it to use by offering a freelance accounting service. A lot of small businesses need the services of an accountant, yet employing a full time employee to do the accounting and book keeping may be above their price range. You can offer your services as a freelancer accountant or book keeper to these categories of people.
A lot of individuals have good business ideas but they don’t have the experience, expertise and skills that is required to write a concrete business plan. You can offer to draft a detailed business plan for them for a fee.
46. Car wash service
Cars would always get dirty and need to be washed. You can start up your own car wash service easily with little funds. Also you can offer your car wash services at the home of your clients.
47. Computer training
Even though computers have gained a lot of popularity in recent years, not everyone is skilled in the usage of computers. These days, a lot of exams are computer based, and basic computer knowledge is a prerequisite for employment into most jobs, and moreover computer knowledge is needed in daily life. You can teach people how to use the computer and make money from it as well.
48. Personal trainer
Just like in a lot of countries of the world, obesity is a major issue. You can help a lot of individuals stay in shape by helping them exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. So if you enjoy working out and sharing knowledge that has worked for you in body building and fitness, you can venture into this business.
49. Translation service
If you are bilingual, you can translate from one language to the other and get paid for doing it.
50. Moving service
Due to the fact that a lot of people in developing countries don’t own a car let alone one that is big enough to contain their properties when moving to a new house, it is always necessary to hire a moving service. You can tap into this and make money by offering a moving service.