Do you want to start a business in Iran as a foreigner but you lack ideas? If Yes, here are 50 best small business ideas & investment opportunities in Iran.

Iran which is officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world’s 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world.

Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq.

Iran’s economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. In 2017, GDP was $427.7 billion ($1.631 trillion at PPP), or $20,000 at PPP per capita.

Iran is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. In the early 21st century, the service sector contributed the largest percentage of the GDP, followed by industry (mining and manufacturing) and agriculture.

When it comes to the ease of doing business, Iran is ranked 128 among 190 economies of the world according to World Bank rating but that does not mean that the country is not business friendly. You must be ready to meet the very strict rules and regulations of the country especially if you are a foreign investor.

Iran has leading manufacturing industries in the fields of automobile, transportation, construction, home appliances, food and agricultural goods, armaments, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and petrochemicals. Having said that, if you are interested in doing business in Iran, here are 50 best business opportunities you can choose from.

50 Best Business ideas & Investment Opportunities in Iran

  1. Start a Solar Energy Company

Starting a solar energy company in Iran is no doubt one of the ideal businesses to start in the country due to the fact that the Iran has high intensity of sun annually. Solar energy has become one of the most reliable sources of power supply especially in the operation of lifts in commercial buildings.

The market for solar energy is increasing and it is still open for new investors to come in. In as much as the market is growing all over the globe, you must adopt a workable marketing strategy to be able to make good sales and huge profits. You can go into contract agreements with those who manufacture products that use solar energy so that you can act as a supplier to them.

You can also make more sales if you work with your customers to produce customized solar panels that can suit their purposes. There are regions where solar energy sells like wild fire and you can only discover these regions if you carry out proper research.

  1. Open a Garment Factory

A garment factory business is another business that can be started in Iran and the owner of the business can still penetrate the world market. Just ensure that you go into the production of thawb, dishdasha or kandoora (an ankle length garment that usually come with long sleeves), robe, and kaftan or tunic.

These are clothes that are predominantly worn in Iran and Middle East countries and there is a large market for this type of clothes especially when they are produced in Iran. As a matter of fact, there is hardly anyone who visits Iran that does not buy this type of clothes. All a designer needs to do is to ensure that he or she carves a niche for his business and then work hard to build their brand name.

  1. Start Oil Tank Farm Business

If you want to start a business in Iran, one of the businesses you can choose to start is an oil tank farm business; a business that stores and supplies motor gasoline, distillate fuel oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids, jet fuel, asphalt,road oil and crude oil to dealers.

Please note that the relative geographic spread of industry establishments in Iran is dependent on the regional demand for and supply of crude oil and petroleum products. Areas of high population and substantial economic activity demand more crude oil and petroleum products than other areas.

Areas with many airports equally demand large quantities of jet fuel. So, ensure you target these areas when shopping for a location to locate your oil tank farm.

  1. Start Petroleum Products Haulage Company

Another thriving and profitable business venture that an investor should consider starting in Iran is a petroleum products haulage company. Petroleum products haulage companies are involved in transporting petroleum products such as premium motor spirit (petrol / fuel), kerosene and diesel from a refinery, seaport, and oil tank farms to various filling stations scattered across the country.

All you need to do to get this type of business started are fleets of oil tankers, tanker drivers, the required permits and business licenses et al. No doubt this type of business is capital intensive, but it is also very lucrative and Iran happens to be one of the highest producers of crude oil in the world.

  1. Start a Lubricant Production Company

Another highly profitable and thriving business that an investor should consider starting in Iran is a lubricant production company. There is a large market for lubricants and it is a business that is open to entrepreneurs who are ready to compete in the industry.

So, if you are serious about making money from the thriving oil and gas industry in Iran, then you should consider starting a lubricant production business. There is a wide range of products that you can produce under this business. Just ensure that you come up with products with good quality and packaging, so you can penetrate the global market.

  1. Start Pipe Laying and Maintenance Company

Pipe laying and maintenance is another profitable business that can be started in Iran. Pipes are one of the major means of transporting petroleum products in Iran. As a matter of fact, petroleum products can be transported to several hundreds and even thousands of kilometers through pipes.

This goes to show that there is a huge market for those who are into pipe laying and maintenance services. So, if you are looking for a business to start in Iran, then one of your options is to start a pipe laying and maintenance company.

  1. Start a Petrochemical Refining Plant

Another business that an investor who is looking towards earning money from the business value chain of the oil and gas industry in Iran should consider starting is a petrochemical refining plant. There are loads of byproducts of crude oil that are highly marketable.

Petrochemicals such as Benzene, Ethylene, Ammonia, Toluene, et al are used for various purposes hence there is a large market for them. So, if you are looking for a business to start in Iran, then one of your options is to open a petrochemical refining plant in the country.

  1. Start a Biodegradable Plastic Bag Manufacturing Company

A biodegradable plastic bag manufacturing business is yet another good business idea to start in Iran. Recently, the retailing industry has fully embraced the use of biodegradable plastic bags due to the fact that the world is going the way of climate change.

This goes to show that there is indeed a very large market for biodegradable plastic bags in our world; hence loads of investors cum aspiring entrepreneur are pitching their tent in the biodegradable plastic bag manufacturing industry.

  1. Open a Jewelry Repair Shop

Jewelry repair business is a business that provides watch and jewelry repair services, including sizing, polishing and battery replacement etc. This business is a thriving one because one out of two persons that you come across in Iran has one or more jewelries that they make use of on a regular basis. The truth is that when jewelries are used, they tend to wear out or get damaged hence the need for the services of jewelry repair shops.

If you want to operate a jewelry repair business, you must get it registered with the corporate affairs department of Iran. Although you can operate an unregistered jewelry repair business in Iran, operating a registered one is the best way to go because it would position you to do business with important clients and even businesses.

  1. Start a Leather Processing Business

Leather processing businesses are businesses that are involved in tanning, currying and finishing of hides and skins, and dyeing and finishing furs. Operators in this industry purchase or obtain raw skins from slaughterhouses and treat and them to create finished leather.

Products made from processed leather are used in all parts of the world. As a matter of fact, economic downturn hardly affects the use of products made from processed leather. Leather belts, bags, wallets, wristwatches, shoes, slippers and sandals et al are used on a daily basis.

  1. Start a Biotech Company

A biotech company is one of the businesses that is bound to thrive in Iran. There are several fields that need the input of biotech companies. Fields like medicine and pharmacy, agriculture (hybrid food, bird and animal production) and non-food industries (used in the production of biodegradable plastics and bio – fuels et al).

Although some people still have their reservation when it comes to the use biotechnology in agriculture, but the fact remains that it has contributed in no smaller measure to crop and animal yield.

  1. Start Commercial Fruit and Vegetable Farming

According to the 2012 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization, Iran is among the world’s top five producers of apricots, cherries, sour cherries, cucumbers and gherkins, dates, eggplants, figs, pistachios, quinces, walnuts, and watermelons.

So, if you are looking towards starting a business in Iran, then you should consider going into commercial fruit and vegetable farming. Just ensure that these popular fruits and vegetables are part of what you are cultivating. The truth is that there is a large international market for fruits that are cultivated in Iran.

  1. Open a Car Assembling Plant

Iran has leading manufacturing brands in the automobile field, hence opening a car assembling plant is a viable business that an accredited investor can start in Iran and the owner of the business can still penetrate the global market. Please note that a car assembling plant business needs significant investment capital, solid planning, and concentration to detail in order to keep your business profitable. Car assembling plants assemble automobiles.

  1. Open Car Customization and Modification Garage

A car customization and modification garage is of course a thriving business to start in Iran. Car customization and modification garages engage in customizing and modifying cars by altering some parts or the whole car to improve its performance.

Often they alter or replace the engine and transmission and also, they work on the body, paid and sound system. Starting a car customization and modification business needs significant investment capital, solid planning, and concentration to detail in order to keep your business profitable.

  1. Start a Pharmaceutical Company

If you are pharmacist and you are certain that you have a winning formula when it comes to producing effective generic drugs, then you should consider launching your own generic pharmaceutical company. This business is still open for investors to come and compete for the available market in Iran. Just ensure that you manufacture standard and effective pharmaceutical products.

  1. Start Travel and Tourism Consulting Business

Although tourism declined significantly during the war in Iraq, it has been subsequently recovered. About 1,659,000 foreign tourists visited Iran in 2004, and 2.3 million in 2009, mostly from Asian countries, including the republic of Central Asia, while about 10 percent came from the European Union and North America. Travel agencies render services that cover all aspects of traveling.

They help their clients in securing visas (especially transit visas), purchase flight tickets, book hotels, book taxi cabs and bus shuttle services and of course make arrangement for sightseeing amongst others. They work in conjunction with airline companies, car rental, cruise companies, hotels, railways, tourist managers and perhaps interpreters and security agencies (supply of security for celebrities and other VIP clients).

  1. Start a Natural Gas Marketing Company

Natural gas marketing business is yet another thriving business that can be started in Iran. Iran has the world’s second largest gas reserve after Russia, with 33.6 trillion cubic meters, and is the third largest natural gas producer after Indonesia and Russia.

It also ranks fourth in oil reserves with an estimated 153,600,000,000 barrels. In 2004, a large share of Iran’s natural gas reserves were untapped. One good thing about marketing natural gas is that the price is no longer regulated as it used to be, the price is actually set by available market forces like demand and supply.

Just ensure that you know all the options available to you as a natural gas marketer so you can choose your niche; you could choose to start as a major integrated marketer, a broker, a producer marketer, an Aggregator or a Small geographically focused marketer.

  1. Start Stem Cell Banking Business

According to a study by David Morrison and Ali Khadem Hosseini (Harvard-MIT and Cambridge), stem cell research in Iran is amongst the top 10 in the world. Iran ranks 15th in the world in nanotechnologies. Stem cells are special cells and they have the ability to become several different types of cells plus the fact that they can replicate rapidly.

As a matter of fact, stem cells play pretty large role in the healing process of the human body. Please note that a stem cell bank is one of those businesses that require you to first look at the existing laws before you start.

  1. Open Stem Cell Therapy Clinic

Another highly thriving business that an aspiring entrepreneur should consider starting in Iran is a stem cell therapy clinic. Cell therapy falls under the branch of regenerative medicine, and it is defined as the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function loss due to age, disease, damage or congenital defects. The Cell Therapy industry consists of businesses that are into skin and chronic wound therapy, musculoskeletal cell therapy and cancer cell therapy.

  1. Open Antiques and Collectibles Store

The market for antiques and collectibles has continued to soar in Iran. It is important to point out that the antique business is one business that can’t go out of fashion in Iran. Depending on the scale you want to start, the startup capital for this type of business can be considered to range from moderate to high. It is advisable to run an offline and online store if indeed you want to maximize profits in this business.

  1. Open an Art Gallery

If you have eyes for good artworks, as well as have a penchant for business, then you may want to start your own art gallery in Iran. Iranian artworks usually attract international clients. The art of Iran encompasses many disciplines including architecture, stonemasonry, metalworking, weaving, pottery, painting, and calligraphy.

Iranian works of art shows a great variety in style in different regions and periods. Art galleries usually purchase artwork from an artist or individual owner and then sell the artwork to consumers, with little or no further development of the product. So also, they bring buyers and sellers of artworks together and collect a commission.

  1. Start an Architectural Firm

The history of architecture in Iran goes back to the seventh millennium BC. Iranians were among the first to use mathematics, geometry and astronomy in architecture. Iranian architecture displays great variety, both structural and aesthetic, developing gradually and coherently out of earlier traditions and experience.

This goes to show that there is a large local and international market for Iranian Architects and it will make a whole lot of business sense to start an architectural firm if you are looking towards starting a business in Iran.

  1. Handmade Carpet Weaving Factory

Another business that can be started in Iran is handmade carpet weaving. Iran’s carpet-weaving has its origins in the Bronze Age, and is one of the most distinguished manifestations of Iranian art. Iran is the world’s largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets, producing three quarters of the world’s total output and having 30 percent of world’s export markets. You can leverage on the goodwill the handmade carpet industry enjoy in Iran to make good money.

  1. Produce Local Musical Instruments

If you are a gifted craftsman, one of the profitable business ventures that you can start in Iran is to go into the production of local music instruments. Iran is the apparent birthplace of the earliest complex instruments, dating back to the third millennium BC.

The use of both vertical and horizontal angular harps have been documented at the sites Madaktu and Kul-e Farah, with the largest collection of Elamite instruments documented at Kul-e Farah. There is indeed a global market for local musical instruments that are produced in Iran.

  1. Open a Movie Theater

A movie theater which is also called a cinema, is a venue that contains an auditorium for viewing movies for the purpose of entertainment or perhaps education. Almost all movie theaters are commercial operations open to the general public, who attend by purchasing a ticket.

Iran’s traditional theatrical genres include Baqqāl-bāzi (“grocer play”, a form of slapstick comedy), Ruhowzi (or Taxt-howzi, comedy performed over a courtyard pool covered with boards), Siāh-bāzi (in which the central comedian appears in blackface), Sāye-bāzi (shadow play), Xeyme-šab-bāzi (marionette), and Arusak-bāzi (puppetry), and Ta’zie (religious tragedy plays).

  1. Open an Animation Studio

An animation studio is of course a good business to start in Iran. Iran’s animation industry began in the 1950s and has been flourishing ever since. An animation studio is a company that is involved in the production of animated media. Such companies conceive products to produce, own the physical equipment for production, employ operators for that equipment, and hold a major stake in the sales or rentals of their animation works.

  1. Open a Restaurant

If you live in a city that attracts tourists, then one of the cool businesses that you can start if you want target foreigners is to open a restaurant. Just ensure that you are good with preparing Iranian cuisine and you will be amazed at the rate of patronage you will attract daily.

Iranian cuisine includes a wide range of main dishes, including various types of kebab, pilaf, stew (khoresh), soup and āsh, and omelette. Lunch and dinner meals are commonly accompanied by side dishes such as plain yogurt or mast-o-khiar, sabzi, salad Shirazi, and torshi, and might follow dishes such as borani, Mirza Qasemi, or kashk e bademjan as the appetizer.

  1. Open a Sporting Goods Retail Store

With two thirds of the population under the age of 25, many sports are played in Iran. Iran is most likely the birthplace of polo, and freestyle wrestling is traditionally considered the national sport of Iran. This goes to show that a sporting goods retail store is sure going to do pretty well in Iran.

Opening a sporting goods retail shop means that you will be retailing goods such as bicycles, camping equipment, exercise and fitness equipment, apparel, footwear and other sporting goods and accessories.

  1. Open Jet Ski, Hiking and Related Goods Rental Store

Another good business that can be started in Iran is Jet Ski, hiking and related goods rental store. Being a mountainous country, Iran is a venue for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, and mountain climbing. It is home to several ski resorts, the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak, all within one to three hours traveling from the capital city Tehran.

The resort of Tochal, located in the Alborz mountain range is the world’s fifth-highest ski resort (3,730 m or 12,238 ft at its highest station). Just ensure that you store is located within skiing and hiking locations and you will be amazed at the income you will generate on a daily basis.

  1. Open a Sports Jersey Manufacturing Company

You can go into the production of sports jerseys because there is a large market for it. By sports jerseys, I mean the jerseys used by different sports teams. Soccer has been regarded as the most popular sport in Iran followed by volleyball. Having won the 2011 and 2013 Asian Men’s Volleyball Championships, the men’s national team is currently the strongest team in Asia, and ranks eighth in the FIVB World Rankings (as of July 2017).

  1. Start Commercial Drone Delivery Business

If you know about the topography and geography of Iran, you will agree that a commercial drone delivery business is sure going to thrive. A commercial drone delivery business helps clients deliver their packages or goods via drones to any destination of their choice.

With this type of business, you can choose to own a store if you have the financial capacity to, or you can choose to operate without a store. The bottom line is that you know how to get goods delivered to your customers via drones.

  1. Start a Diamond Cutting and Polishing Company

If you have an interest in diamond and jewelries, you can make good money by starting your own diamond cutting and polishing business in Iran. Diamond cutting and polishing is not common in countries with rich deposits of diamond, and it has a very high profit margin. People that are involved in the cutting and polishing diamond would admit that they are making huge returns on their investment.

  1. Start Fruit Processing Plant (Juice Company)

Iran is notable for cultivating fruits, and in most cases if these fruits are not sold on time, they can get rotten, hence the need to build a fruit processing plant or juice company. Depending on the scale you want to start, the startup capital for this type of business can be moderate to high. As a matter of fact, it is advisable to run a fruit farm/plantation alongside your fruit processing plant if indeed you want to maximize profits in this business.

  1. Start the Production of Bottled Water

Another thriving business that an aspiring entrepreneur can start in Iran is the production of bottled water. Production companies in the bottled water industry basically purify and bottle water into bottles for consumption. Needless to say, that there are readily available markets for bottled water in Iran, as the country happens to be one of the few countries in the world that experience all the weather available in geography, including periods of intense heat.

  1. Start a Cattle Farming Business

If you are interested in animal farming, then you should consider raising cattle. Cattle farming is perhaps one of the most lucrative animal farming business an entrepreneur can start, but that does not rule out the fact that it can sometimes be challenging especially if you don’t live around a farm community where you can easily build your ranch. Cattle rearing is a profitable business because of the beef and other by products from cattle.

  1. Start Alpaca Farming

Alpaca farming is perhaps one of the most lucrative wool or fur related farming business an entrepreneur can start in Iran. An alpaca is a domesticated specie of South American camelid. It looks a lot like a small llama in appearance. There are basically two breeds of alpaca; the Suri alpaca and the Huacaya alpaca. Beyond the general knowledge of rearing domestic animals, you would need to study the process of alpaca farming if you want to become successful in the business.

  1. Open a Consignment Shop

Another thriving business that can be started in Iran is a consignment shop. A Consignment Shop is simply a shop where fairly used goods are sold at giveaway prices. It could be clothes, shoes and other fashion accessories, electronics, furniture, toys, books, tools, musical instrument, office equipment, machines and a host of other stuffs.

You can start this business without money because you would only be required to collect goods from people who are cleaning and clearing their wardrobes, houses, offices or garages at no cost at all. In other words, you would be automatically helping them get rid of the items they do not want and in turn make your profit.

  1. Open a Bakery

Bakery business is yet another thriving business that can be started in Iran. Aside from bread which seems to be the face of the bakery industry, cake is also one of the products of the bakery industry that is doing pretty well in the market.

Yes, people eat bread and other flour made snacks on a daily basis, but you will agree that cake making is also one of the major money spinners for bakers. Although not all bakers specialize in cake making, but those who are into cake making alongside bread and snacks are the people who are maximizing the bakery industry.

  1. Start Bee Farming Business

Interestingly, honey that is produced in Iran has high acceptability globally hence it will be a wise decision to start a bee farming business in Iran if you are looking for a high profit margin business to start. Farmers in the industry raise bees and also collect honey, sell live bees, royal jelly, bees’ wax, propolis, pollen, venom and other related bee products. If you start your bee farm, ensure that you target the international market as they have the capacity to pay better than locals.

  1. Start Concrete Pipe & Block Manufacturing

If you are considering starting a business in Iran, one profitable venture that you should consider is Concrete Pipe & Block Manufacturing. If you start this business, your job will be to manufacture concrete pipes, bricks and blocks. Concrete pipes include storm sewer pipes, sanitary sewer pipes, reinforced pressure pipes, pre-stressed cylinder pressure pipes and culvert pipes.

Concrete brick and block production mainly include structural blocks, decorative blocks and pavers, bricks and miscellaneous concrete products. Products made by this industry are heavily used in the construction industry.

  1. Start Charcoal Production and Distribution Business

Iran is one of the countries of the world that has a huge deposit of coal and trust me, charcoal production and distribution business is a profitable business that can be started in Iran. Charcoal is a type of flammable fuel burned as an energy source for stoves and furnaces.

Any aspiring entrepreneur who is considering starting coal production and distribution business whether on a small or large scale should ensure that he or she conducts thorough market survey and feasibility studies so as to get it right.

  1. Open a Chemical Laboratory

If you are a scientist and you intend starting your own business in Iran, you can decide to start your own chemical laboratory; it is an industry that is open to creative scientists cum investors. Chemical laboratories perform physical, chemical and other analytical testing for commercial purposes.

Such testing may occur in a laboratory or an on-site facility. Please note that you can’t just wake up and launch your own chemical laboratory; you must follow establish protocols. This industry is highly regulated because of the risks involved.

  1. Chili Pepper Farming

Another good business to start in Iran is Chili pepper farming. Chili pepper is the small, red or green seed case from particular types of pepper plant that is used for cooking. Chili pepper farming is known to be a profitable business and over the years, it has evolved from garden farming to a global industry.

If you are considering starting a commercial chili pepper farming business, the good news is that you can’t get it wrong because this pepper has a lot of uses both in the country and the international community.

  1. Start Coal Mining

Iran is one of the countries of the world that has a rich deposit of coal, and as such coal mining business is bound to succeed in the country. Players in the industry are basically involved in mining various types of coal. Most coal mines consist of bituminous coal or anthracite (types of black coal), but companies might also excavate lignite (brown coal). Players in this industry also develop coal mine sites and prepare the coal for sale by washing, screening and sizing the material.

  1. Start Excavation Company

Excavation Contractors mainly excavates land for building construction. They are known to carry out foundation digging, drilling and grading et al. If you want to be actively involved in running an excavation company, then you should ensure that you acquire the relevant working experience. It will be to your advantage to network with contractors in the construction industry. They are your major clients and can give you excavation contracts that can keep your business afloat.

  1. Open a Food Hub

Food hubs are a part of the agricultural industry value chain and often share common values relating to conservation, sustainability, healthy food access, and supporting local farmers in getting good returns for their produce.

If you are considering starting a food hub business in Iran, the good news is that you can’t get it wrong especially if you locate the business between a farming community and residential community. It will aid easy access to farm produce from farmers and also easy access to end consumers.

  1. Herbal Medicine Production Company

If you are interested in leveraging the existing love for medicinal products made from plants, then you should consider starting an herbal medicine production company in Iran. The fact that people want to take less chemical medications makes this type of business a viable and profitable one.

Herbal medicine is one commodity that is consumed in Iran and all parts of the world and those that produce herbal medicines and related supplements, are known to generate sales if the business is properly managed.

  1. Start a Moving Company

Another highly thriving business that an aspiring entrepreneur should consider starting in Iran is a moving company. A moving company is a business that provide moving and relocation services, including local, long-distance and international trucking and shipping of used household, institutional and commercial goods, furniture and equipment. In Iran, moving companies often provide incidental packing and storage activities for their customers.

  1. Start Milk Delivery Business

A milk delivery business involves delivering milk to your clients; it could be retailers or end users. With this type of business, you can choose to own a store if you have the financial capacity to or you can choose to operate without a store.

The bottom line is that you should know how to source for milk and how to get it delivered to your customers. The truth is that a milk delivery business is profitable, it is a very easy business to start and it is not so capital intensive.

Joy Nwokoro

Researcher / Senior Writer at Profitable Venture Magazine Ltd
Joy Nwokoro is a Freelance Business Journalist, researcher, translator and sales trainer who have worked with numerous clients amongst which is Women in World Banking, a business research NGO in New york, America. She holds a bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the Abia State University, Nigeria.
Joy Nwokoro