Small businesses you can start with little capital

In this piece, ANOZIA EGOLE looks at small businesses that require little capital to set up

The operational environment is often very challenging for startups. Access to finance is a major hurdle due to the bottlenecks faced by primary lending institutions and the high cost of funds in the country. Banks charge more than 35 percent interest. This has stifled the potential of small businesses to make a meaningful contribution to the economy.

Startups have been identified as important sources of employment and drivers of economic development in any country.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, small and medium enterprises contribute about 48 percent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product, making them a crucial engine for economic growth and development.

SMEs are involved in various sectors of the economy, including agriculture, manufacturing, services and retail, among others.

In July 2023, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, Kashifu Inuwa said: “SMEs make up a large percentage of businesses and economic growth, the digitalization of micro-small medium enterprises would also increase revenue by 26 percent . We can reduce operating costs by 22 percent and contribute $53 billion to the Nigerian economy.”

Inuwa stated this during his opening speech at the TechMyBiz Pitch-A-Thon event in Lagos, which was jointly funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

However, despite the economic challenges, some Nigerians believe that it is still better to empower themselves and do something for themselves than to wait for a white-collar job.

For Ms Chioma Nliam, working for someone has never been her thing. “I never wanted to work for anyone. Ever since I was a student, I have always wanted to do my things myself.

“During my studies in Ghana, I always wanted to do things for myself; That’s why, when I left school, I decided to continue with my mother’s business of selling wines,” she said.

However, the project management graduate from Zenith University in Ghana admitted that starting and maintaining a business in Nigeria comes with many challenges.

“In the more than four years that I have been running this company, I have noticed that starting and maintaining a business here in Nigeria is quite a challenge. Getting a loan to start something is a big challenge; Sustaining the already existing operations is another challenge given the continuously rising material costs in the market and even rental costs,” said Nliam.

However, there are about ten business opportunities that require minimal upfront investment.

POS/e-payment services

Setting up a payment terminal offers convenient electronic payment solutions. Services such as money transfers, bill payments and airtime purchases can generate revenue. It is currently one of the most popular companies among young people in the country. To get a PoS machine from banks, it costs about N30,000. So, with N100,000 you can become a PoS operator.

Phone accessories

Phones and mobile gadgets have become part of our daily lives. And these gadgets need accessories. With just $200,000, you can start a cell phone accessories store, selling items like chargers, earbuds, phone cases, etc.

Mobile food vendor and delivery

Meal preparation and delivery can be a profitable business to meet the demands of busy individuals and students. Offering ready-made meals to people with limited time to cook offers a lucrative business opportunity. The main equipment needed here is a wheelbarrow, a large cooler (about $15,000) and other smaller coolers (about $10,000) for rice, beans, and other food items. So with a starting capital of N100,000 you can start this business.


Leveraging writing skills to provide copywriting services to businesses in need of promotional materials can generate revenue. Creating attractive advertisements and marketing content makes for profitable writing skills. All you need to start this business is your laptop. You can still get a good used laptop for N200,000.

Graphic design

It can be profitable to use creativity to offer graphic design services to both individuals and businesses. Designing logos, flyers and other visual assets offers opportunities to make money through design expertise. You can get started with your laptop and printer.

Sell ​​clothes

Selling trendy clothing items through an online platform or a physical store remains a resilient business idea. Identifying and supplying fashionable clothing can attract customers and boost sales. Online sales don’t require much; all you need is a good smartphone costing about N100.00 to take photos and upload them online. But if you want to sell offline, you can start by buying smaller second-hand clothes for around $100,000 and arrange a place where you can stand at a bus stop to sell.

Laundry company

Although a laundry business can be capital intensive, you can start small for your room. You can start without a washing machine and purchase one as the business grows. All you need to start a laundry business is a table and an iron. You can set up a small laundry business with less than N50,000.


Capitalizing on the popularity of shawarma, especially among young people, by setting up a shawarma stand offers lucrative business opportunities. Offering tasty snacks to customers can yield significant returns. One can start this with about N150,000. You need to purchase the shawarma machine for about N100,000 and some hot dogs and other ingredients for about N20,000 depending on the quantity.

Resale of Internet data

Purchasing internet data in bulk from telecommunications companies and reselling it to customers at competitive prices creates a viable small business. Offering affordable internet access makes it possible to respond to the growing demand for connectivity. With N70, 000 you can start doing this. All you have to do is get enough data from the service providers and start selling.

Clearance agent

Facilitating the online sale of unwanted items to private individuals can be a profitable business. Acting as an intermediary between buyers and sellers and earning a commission on each sale provides income-generating opportunities.

With the right idea and dedicated effort, navigating the Nigerian business landscape can lead to financial success. By leveraging creativity, market demand and a modest initial investment, individuals can embark on a rewarding entrepreneurial journey in Nigeria.