Is Food Business ideas in Kenya really profitable?

Are you wondering if a fast-food business in Kenya is a good business idea?

Greengrocery, food stall, or simply a Kibanda is the most popular small business type in Kenya. As a “mama mboga”, your operations include sourcing high-quality and fresh farm produce, preserving them, and displaying them to fast food customers. Food businesses make the most profits when operating in busy commercial business districts or near a residential estate.

In this simplified guide, learn how to start and run a small fast-food business in Kenya. It covers advantages, tips, and the process of starting a profitable food kiosk or stall.

Why start a fast food business in Kenya?

There are many reasons why a food business idea is viable and feasible in Kenya.

The roadside food kiosks are very easy to establish and run given the small barriers of entry. They require very few formal requirements like trade licenses and capital. Most importantly they are very sustainable if you can guarantee your customers good relations, hygiene, and quality products

  • Easy to Manage; Vegetable stalls and food kiosks require little financial and legal requirements to start and run. A kibanda requires a small amount of daily or monthly payments to your local government. A hotel, on the other hand, a hotel, will need huge investments in business, health, and tax permits.
  • Highly Profitable; Food kiosks require minimal investments in operating costs like rent and utilities. You will need a few low-cost pieces of equipment and materials. Besides you can run it with family members avoiding paying salaries and wages. Those low costs help you run a highly profitable outfit
  • Quality food handling: Food stalls focus on marketing highly perishable vegetables and fruits with little shelf life. Others focus on selling healthy fast foods like snacks. They are always sourcing and selling fresh and high-quality products.

Where to locate your food business?

Are you looking for the best place to locate your food business?  

The factors for locating your food stall are like other fast-food businesses like a food truck or a restaurant.  You should locate your stall in an area with plenty of cars or foot traffic. As more people pass by your food stall, the greater your chances of attracting new and returning customers. You can attract more by erecting an eye-catching sign or display. The other factor is to go where other food businesses are.  Set up part in a food business community like a food court or vibanda street. You will enjoy a huge clientele of food shoppers.

By considering the above factors, here are the best locations to start a small food business in Kenya

  • Near office parks e.g Westlands, Kilimani & Upper Hill
  • Adjacent to transportation terminals like bus stations or stops
  • Near markets, and supermarkets
  • Besides an institution like colleges, hospitals, or universities.

Which food business is most profitable in Kenya

Which are the most profitable products to sell in a fast food business in Kenya?  Consumers prefer consistent variety and quality supplies.  The most successful food vendors specialize in selling local or traditional ready-to-eat street foods fast foods or convenience foods for shoppers to prepare at home. The figure below is a summary of the most profitable food products in food kiosks in Kenya. They include fruits, vegetables, and fresh juices. Baked snacks, hot beverages, and convenience foods like githeri and chapati also have high demand. Others are milk, eggs, spices, and herbs like chili.

Food category Food products Ideas
Baked productsChapati
Cereals, flours &
Roots, Tubers &
Arrow roots
sweet potato
Vegetables &
Sukuma wiki
Kienyeji vegetables
Dry Beverages &
Tea Leaves
Black Pepper
Milk &
Dairy Products
Fresh milk
Poultry & Egg
Chicken meat,
Fish ProductsTilapia
Dry Fish
precooked products
Boiled Legumes
Whole Fruits &
fresh Juices
Sweet melon
A list of the best food business ideas in Kenya

Which is the best fast food business type in kenya?

Which are the most profitable types of informal food stalls or kiosks to run in Kenya? There are three major types of greengrocers or food kiosks in the region. These vendors include.

  • Small kiosks (vibandas). These are low-end type makeshift foodsheds. It uses semi-permanent shelters or umbrellas to shelter goods. They are common on estates.
  • Market or street-side stalls/stands. They are similar to kiosks. They are a bit formal and larger than small vibandas.
  • Mobile street vendors, such as those selling from trolleys, smokie carts, car boots and individual street hawkers.

How to start a grocery business in Kenya

Why do some mama mbogas thrive while others fail? It will depend on how you plan and execute your business. Agcenture gives you a simple guide on how to start a fast food business in Kenya. It follows the following 7 steps.

  1. Conduct a small market research to explore current food market dynamics, identify suppliers and most profitable food products
  2. Draft a business plan to identify your resources and plan for financial, marketing and management success including reasonable pricing.
  3. Choose a good location by observing its people flow, security, and accessibility.
  4. Register your business legally and look for business and health permits.
  5. Open a bank account for your business transactions.
  6. Define your business brand with an eye-catching and memorable design. The best colors for food businesses are yellow, orange, and red. The font should be legible.
  7. Invest in necessary tools, equipment, containers, and packages to ensure proper food hygiene and sanitation.

Once you start operations, remain consistent, professional and formal. Besides, good customer relations will give you more profits.

How profitable is a kibanda grocery business in Kenya?

Are you wondering the amount of money you can make by running a food stall?  In this section, we try to answer you how profitable is food kibanda business. We will give you the typical costs and profits of running a small food kiosk. You can use the guide for actual prices and costs.

Startup costs

Your startup costs will vary depending on its type and location.  According to Nexin startups, you can start a decent small fast-food business with a budget of ksh 80,000. A small makeshift kiosk can cost you around sh 10,000. Others like road site traders spend nothing to start.

Your startup costs will go to put up structures, and buy furniture and equipment like utensils and cooking stoves. Other costs go to register for business licenses and certificates

Operating costs

The other costs go into running the food kiosk’s daily activities. It will include buying food stocks like fruits and cereals. Others will go to pay for utilities like clean water and electricity.


Informal food vendors make profits of at least Ksh 1000 daily. The larger food kiosks can make more. Focus on sourcing cheaper food sources to gain more profits. The tips below can give you more money.

How to make more money as a mama mboga?

Are you looking to improve your fast food kiosk profits? Agcenture proposes five practical ways that you can observe to make more money from your food kiosk.  They are;

  • Invest in food preservation or value addition like the use of solar-powered coolers.
  • Join an active food traders’ association for protection and lobbying for a better business environment.
  • Focus on using Modern Technologies like use of food apps and mobile money (mpesa paybill) payments
  • Uphold Professionalism & formality like formal banking, getting business license etc.
  • While majority of investors in food stalls are individual entrepreneurs just starting up, you can consider it as a well-established food restaurant or hotel. The food kiosk or sale booth outside the main facility can benefit your business. It will facilitate the taking of to-go orders, distributing the to-go orders, arranging a seating queue, and/or tracking online orders, hence speeding your operations.
  • Focus on Customer service or relations

4 best marketing for small food businesses in Kenya

The way you treat your suppliers and customers will determine your Kibanda business profits and survival.

What you need about the modern customer is that they adore convenience, warmth, and friendliness. Remember Teddy Roosevelt’s quote, “Nobody cares how much you know (or offer) until they know how much you care.”

4 tips for you to win on customer relations that work are;

  • Nurture loyalty: Use an enthusiastic, professional yet friendly tone to salute and communicate with your customers always.  Build a personal level of customer relations beyond exchanging goods and money. By emotionally appealing to their human nature, they will trust, “love” and remain loyal to your business.
  • Offer Quality products and services; Customers appreciate giving you more business if you offer them hygienic, safe, and variety of products. Give them free packaging, slicing vegetables, etc.  
  • Attend to complaints; In case of any slightest complaint, work to correct the mistakes by Acknowledging the error; apologizing; fixing it; owning it with no excuses; and improving immediately.
  • Appreciation: Remember and practice the golden Rule in business, “Treat your customers as well as you expect them to treat you.” Make sure you always say thanks to the business when they shop in your Kibanda. If you can, celebrate their good news with them like their child’s birthday.
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  1. Very encouraging…. if incase nataka kustart my own….. can you connect with with your supplier?? Hoping to start one in Kisumu come January

  2. Hi, I like how you illuminate your ideas. Come next year, am planning to start one in Voi God willing. See you then.

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