When it comes to setting up a business, there has never been a more level playing field than the internet. With only an idea, and a computer or smartphone with internet access, anyone can start profitable online businesses with little or no capital. And the best part? Almost no technical know-how is required.

Depending on how quickly or extensively you want your business to grow, you have the freedom to live wherever you like, set your own working hours, and work as little or as much as you like. 

Need some ideas? Here are five easy online businesses you can start  with little to no capital: 

  1. Sell data, airtime, or cable TV subscriptions from vending websites

Two of the most consumed commodities in the African digital world are data and airtime. Almost everyone using a smartphone needs them. While people can easily buy from their network providers, there are websites that partner with these network providers to sell data at a much cheaper price. For context, 1.5GB of data from MTN typically costs N1000.

Image Source: Tech Cabal

But you’ll find some online retailers sell it for as low as N250. This rate is possible as a result of these vending websites.

One popular website for data and airtime vending is Mobileng. On this site, you can start and build a profitable business with little to no capital. 

For example, see their MTN data and airtime rates in the pictures below.

online businesses with no capital mobile ng
Image Source: Tech Cabal
Image Source: Tech Cabal

In addition to discounted data and airtime vending, Mobileng also provides 1-3% discounts on payment for utility bills and subscriptions such as GOTV, DSTV, and Startimes, as well as WAEC and NECO scratch cards. What’s more, they convert MTN, GLO and 9mobile airtime to cash at good rates.

Here’s how to set yourself up as a retailer on Mobileng: 

  • First, register at Mobileng. You can deposit as little as N500 to begin. 
  • Choose the items you want to retail and set up your pricing according to your discretion. For example, 1GB of MTN data sells for N230 directly from Mobileng, but you can choose to sell between N240-N300. You can also add service charges to the discounted utility bills offered by the site.
  • Next, spread the word! Post on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp  about the services you offer and wait for the orders to roll in. 

How to handle payment:  Customers send money to your bank account when they want to purchase something. Then you deposit the exact amount of what they want to buy into your Mobileng wallet. You get their number in cases of airtime and data, their IUC/Smartcard number in case of Gotv and DStv, then you carry out the transaction. As easy as ABC! 

As you can see, vending on Mobileng is easy, fast and doesn’t require much by way of capital. Just set yourself up, start selling and in no time you could be turning a profit! 

  1. Become a dropshipper on apps like Konga or Jumia
online businesses with no capital konga jumia
Image Source: Tech Cabal

One of the online businesses you can start with little or no capital is dropshipping. It doesn’t require you to stock your own products or deliver them to customers yourself. All you have to do is keep an eye out for what people like to buy, liaise with a wholesaler and get to selling! 

Here’s how dropshipping works:

  • Find out what people are buying well and which you’ll like to sell. Could be electronics, books, cosmetics, sealed edibles, or clothes. 
  • Next, find a wholesaler of such commodities so you can get them for cheaper prices. 
  • Register as a seller on third-party marketplaces like Konga, Jumia, eBay or Jiji and list the products you’ll be selling. 
  • When a consumer makes a purchase from your store on these marketplaces, you may use your own money to make the purchase from your identified wholesaler. Or if you have a relationship with the wholesaler, you can just agree to pick the goods, and when there’s a payout, you deduct your profit and pay the wholesaler too.   

This business form allows you to sell a wide variety of products while keeping your overhead to a minimum.

  1. Affiliate Marketing 

Affiliate marketing is promoting products for other small businesses or individuals on your own website or social media platform in exchange for a commission. 

If a potential customer hits a link you’ve advertised, they will be redirected to your business partner’s checkout page and when they complete a purchase, you’ll earn a commission.

Affiliate marketing is a low-effort venture, requiring little to no financial investment. All you need is time, creativity and strategy in getting people to buy from the links you advertise, and you could be making money from affiliate marketing in no time! 

  1. Start a blog

Blogging can be a profitable business, and it’s one of the online businesses you can start with little or no capital. You’ll enjoy it especially if you have knowledge to share on a subject or a genuine passion for writing. To start, you could create a blog with a free  platform like Blogger, or  build your own site and secure your own hosting for a small fee, so as to avoid the limitations that come with free blogging platforms. 

Blogging, you would assume, consists solely of writing. And if you put your mind to it, it can be. However textual blogging is only the beginning. Images, videos, and external links are part of content you can share on your website. As long as it has some bearing on your specialty, pretty much everything goes.

The two most important things you can do are create original material that is helpful to your target audience and post frequently. This will increase your visibility in search results and motivate your readers to take action.

A blog on the Internet can generate income through several ways including the following: 

  • AdSense by Google
  • Internet advertising based on affiliate relationships rates. 
  • Blog Ad networks

You can also have Banner ads from ad networks like Blogads displaying on your blog/website. The process is similar to that of Google Adsense in that all you have to do is insert some code into your website once and you’ll start making money from clicks. 

  1. Become a social media influencer/content creator

This one deals with you gaining a substantial amount of following on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc. 

You’ll likely need to position yourself as a talented individual in a certain aspect. You may be a gifted singer, comedian, speaker, artist, tech enthusiast and all. You’ll just need to  following that’s active. 

With huge following on your social media platform and high engagement, you can become an outlet for advertising for very big brands. 

Image Source: Tech Cabal

Examples of people in this space include: 

  • Taooma who built a massive following in the comedy niche. And brands as big as Predator energy drink advertise with her. 
  • Don Jazzy is a music personality with a huge social media following and he advertises for brands like Vbank. 
  • Kagan Tech, a tech content creator, with his own built following now advertises for tech brands like Tecno and Pillow funds. 

The list is inexhaustible. 

So you’ll need to invest in building a substantial following that can be associated with credibility and naturally the advertising gigs will come. Also, you can create video content on YouTube, and get paid as people watch your content.

Final thoughts on online businesses you can start with minimum capital

Finding a profitable niche market is essential to the success of any internet business. Monitor what’s popular, what’s selling well, and what people are talking about on social media to stay ahead of the curve.

It’s important to remember that you are not limited to a single online marketplace. You can pick one and get it going first. But don’t hesitate to include additional sources of income as soon as possible. That way, your income will increase, and you’ll have some protection in case one of your businesses fails.

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox