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Nairobi’s top 10 money spinners

November 20th, 2013 2 min read

Nairobi is a county of hustlers — and that’s official! One in every four working people is running a business on the side, according to a new survey commissioned by Nairobi News.

Most residents believe you cannot grow rich from employment alone, the survey shows.

And the bug for investment is even stronger among university and college students, where 66 percent want to start businesses on graduation and 40 percent say they will invest in small businesses even when they have a full time job.

And there’s more.

Women are as likely as men to engage in side hustles. They love retail (think stalls) while the men go for entertainment — which explains why bars are mushrooming throughout the county.

Real estate is the most lucrative enterprise in town, the survey shows. A fifth of those polled believe this is the place to be, an opinion in recent years shared by the taxman who is rolling out a collection programme targeting house rent.

This comes in the wake of a decade-long growth in the property business that has overshadowed anything seen since the country attained Independence five decades ago.

Banks pumped Sh208 billion into property in the first nine months of the year, more than a tenth of the total lending to the economy, according to Central Bank.

While the inclination to work with cement and stones might be much appreciated by many a Nairobian, what may call for a rethink by both planners and townspeople is the growing love for farming.

Once an upcountry peasant occupation, farming is the new sexy in town, coming second only to real estate. Thirteen per cent of residents believe it is the most profitable business.

If the earnings are going up, the age of the farmer is falling as his education improves. And quite probably, the sharply dressed farmer sits on the top floor of a skyscraper as he inquires about his cows and greenhouse harvest.

Indeed, research among the employed showed farming tied with real estate at 18 per cent with a slight bias to the former.

Changing tastes

The top-tier ventures trump the likes of consultancy which scores only six per cent and textiles last on one per cent.

Both farming and real estate have received a huge boost with the new infrastructure around Nairobi including Thika Road and the by-passes which have provided more space for farming outside the city estates.

“Nairobi is a prime market in a major way especially because of infrastructural development and market interest,” says Dan Ojijo, a real estate investor.

Financial access has fuelled both.

Besides a love for farming, the employed are also partial to moonlighting, with 13 per cent finding consulting on the side a good money maker.

It ties on 13 percent with the transport business dominated by matatus. Money and finance are next at 11 per cent.

The survey was carried out by pollsters Consumer Insight.