It feels like there are tremendous opportunities here – labor is incredibly cheap, people seem to work hard, and in general are honest. Three business ideas that have cropped up:
1) Market/work bikes – transportation is crazy here, with people walking everywhere. The costs of cars are prohibitive as there is no credit, so anyone who wants a vehicle has to pay 100% up front, and cars are all imported, so more expensive than in the U.S. Bikes are used to move all sorts of goods, stacked high with produce, wood, insulation. Thinking of a bike designed to carry things, so low gearing, mountain built design, with three wheels. I could see getting pieces sourced in China or Taiwan, and doing assembly here. It would support small farmers and other small businesses providing access to markets. The trick is building them so that they are affordable and solid. There is a tinga tinga artists market nearby – a bright style of painting with lots of animals. Would be great to make the bikes beautiful.
2) Car financing – again transportation is a big issue and an aspiring middle class can’t purchase cars unless they come up with 100% up front. A car financing company would empower thousands of people to get vehicles to go to work, move goods, etc. The trick is securitizing the asset in case of default, and checking credit – there are no credit scores or records here.
3) Cafes – creating a Kilicafé retail outlet that serves the tourist market in Zanzibar, Arusha or Nairobi airport.