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Importing Used Clothing to Africa

Used cloths business is a highly lucrative business worldwide. Millions of tons of the items are shipped annually.
The secondhand clothing industry is facing serious challenges in many African countries. This is because the industry impacts negatively on local cloth merchants, textile industries, tailors and fashion designers.
Some East and West African countries have put an outright ban on the commodity. African countries that propose a ban on used cloths importation include Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya.
There is an outright ban on used cloths in Nigeria however the market is still thriving. To start the business you need seed funds and a foreign supplier. Other requirements are import documentation, incorporation and destination markets.
bales of used cloths
Exporters of Second hand Cloths
The major exporter of secondhand cloths is the United States of America accounting for over 3.8 billion sales worldwide. Other markets for used cloths are China and Canada.
Second hand Cloths Markets
Apart from African countries there are other importers of secondhand cloths. Secondhand cloths markets are found in Asia, Australia, Sub Sahara Africa, South and North America.
In fact there are over 40 countries that import used cloths. Investors should find such markets and make sure they work within the law.
How to start a cloths store business
Comprehensive List of Secondhand Cloths Markets
Here is a comprehensive list of secondhand cloths markets for importers/exporters. Popular destinations are Uganda, India, Nigeria, Ghana, El Salvador, Guatemala, Liberia, and Poland. Others are South Africa, Turkey, Kenya, Pakistan, Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.
  • Uganda
  • India
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Liberia
  • Poland
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
  • Kenya
  • Pakistan
  • Republic of Congo
  • Sierra Leone.
Cloths Collection
The core businesses for some companies in the U.S are used cloths export. They collect the cloths from highbrow areas, charities and private collectors.
They process the cloths for stains, rips, holes and discoloration. They are then sorted into 3 grades and multiple categories.
After sorting they are packaged into plastics bags and arranged into bales. Once an order is processed they load them into containers for shipment.
Used Cloths Selection
The collecting agents grade the cloths into several categories or bales. This is usually base on gender, quality cloths and age grade.
Clothing types include female cloths, male cloth and mixed cloths. Categories are shirts, t-shirts, dresses, shorts, gowns, jackets, blouses and underwear.
They are usually graded into AA, A, B, C categories. The standard bales sizes are usually about 100ibs-1000ibs.
  • Children’s cloths
  • Female cloth
  • Male cloths
  • Mixed cloths
Used Cloths Shipment
The used cloths are shipped in 40 feet containers or boxes. They ship according to buyer’s specification and requirements.
They load 44,000-55,000ibs about 25 tons per container. Most shipments are not only cloths but used shoes, accessories and household items.
Used Cloths Importation Business
  •  Write a business plan
  • Source funding
  • Incorporate the business
  • Find foreign suppliers
  • Contact local markets
  • Ship the merchandize
  •  Clear the goods
  • Sell directly to wholesalers/retailers

Start Aloe Vera Export

Cultivated Aloe Vera plants are in high demand in Europe and America. The market is lucrative because of the plants valuable properties.
Consumer products that have aloe vera are ointments, creams, skin lotions and cosmetic products. The short green plant has thick fleshy prickly leaves and serrated leaf margin.
Widely cultivated around the world the popular plant has over 450 species. It is generally grown as an ornamental plant and medicinal plant.
An Investor needs an effective supply chain or network to fill orders. They can liaison with local farmers, collectors or marketers.
aloe vera
Large Scale Production of Aloe Vera
Some countries have large scale cultivation of Aloe Vera plant. Major players include United States of America, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Kenya and India.
Other top producers include Jamaica, China, Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh, Australia and Tanzania. Major export destinations include china, Australia, United States and France.
  • United States of America
  • Dominican Republic
  • Cuba
  • Kenya
  • India
  •  Jamaica 
  • China 
  •  Mexico 
  • South Africa 
  • Bangladesh
  • Australi 
  • Tanzania.
      Uses of Aloe Vera in Products
Despite little scientific proof of efficacy of aloe vera it still remains popular and highly sort-after. It is found in many commodities, alternative medicine and dietary supplements.
Commodities that have aloe vera are shampoos, sunscreen, incense and moisturizers. More products include soaps, shaving creams, makeup, and tissues.
The ingredient is generally the extracted sap of the plant. Dietary supplements are usually laxatives while traditionalists use it in a variety of mixtures.
  • Shampoos
  • Sunscreen
  • Incense
  • Moisturizers
  • Soaps
  • Shaving creams
  • Makeup
  • Tissues Dietary supplements
  •  Laxatives
Medical Use of Aloe Vera
Some medical uses of aloe vera are both external and internal. Uses include soothing rashes, dry skin, itching and skin infections.
Other applications include use as a laxative for throat irritation and reduced inflammation. The dried concentrated leaf latex is used in herbal products.
  • Food supplement
  • Throat care
  • Skin care
  • Herbal medicine
  • Cosmetic product
How Exporters Market Aloe Vera
The versatile plants sap is used for medicinal purposes. This is exported as dried aloe latex.
Other products are the de-colorized whole leaf extract and aloe gel extract. A major issue in the industry is adulteration of the products.
  • Gel extract
  • Dried aloe latex
  • Whole leaf extract
  • De-colorized whole leaf extract  
Establish access and benefit agreements including export permit. You need proper labeling, certification, trace-ability, quality control documentation.
Others are marketing authorization, manufacturing and collection practices. Quality requirements include moisture content, active ingredient content, residues and no-contaminants.
You might require having ISO standardization. The labeling should have date of manufacture, batch number, net weight and origin. Others are product name, specification, shippers address and recommended storage conditions.
Start Shea butter exportation
The packaging depends on what you are exporting. Buyers usually have strict rules on packaging. Clean, hygienic, dry containers are important for the shipping. The choice of container should prevent contaminants and substance reaction.
The aloe vera business is highly competitive and lucrative. You need to incorporate your company and get liability insurance.
Secure all the export documentation for the destination and the buyer. Approach any commercial bank in your area for loans.
You need an effective supply chain to succeed in this business. Select a niche between aloe for food supplements or herbal medicine.

Start Crude Oil Import/Export Business

Only a few countries produce crude oil and not in commercial quantity. Even those that manage commerciality consume most of their product.
They also augment the demand with imports from other countries. For example the United States of America in 2015 produced about 14 million barrel per day and consumed 19 million barrels daily.
The short fall is augmented with imports of crude. It is not uncommon for petrol producing nations to also have huge storage facilities.
There are many types of refined petroleum products for different markets. Some common products are diesel, engine oil, jet fuel and kerosene.
Reduced Dependency on Petroleum Products
Advanced countries are gradually moving away from petroleum products. This is because of the negative environmental problems associated to the product.
Serious environmental problems include pollution of waterways, depleted ozone layer, air pollution and contaminants in the soil. Petroleum affects both fauna and animal natural habitats.
Reliance on petroleum products are gradually turning to biodiesel, ethanol and other sources of biofuel.
How to Start Crude Oil Import/Export Business
  • Find a genuine buyer
  • Avoid the middleman
  • Focus on oil processing company’s
  • Do due diligence and gather information on buyer
  • Compare prices for purchase and sales
  • Get exact specification of type of crude oil
  • What are the delivery terms
  • Packing terms
  • Payment terms
  • Find direct marketers
  • Sign commission contract with buyers
  • Complete all relevant documentation
Types of Petroleum Products
Crude oil is the primary resource produced in an oil field. There are many petroleum products of equal economic value.
We have refined products such as aviation fuel, diesel fuel and ethanol. Others are engine oil lubricants, unrefined oils, gasoline, liquids and unfinished oils.
Vehicles are the major consumers of most petroleum products including machinery. Supplying the petroleum products in crude or refined form is highly lucrative. You work on commission, based on the supply and purchase prices.
Major Producers/Consumers of Crude Oil
The major producers of crude oil are found in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Russia. They collectively account for 68% of oil produced around the world.
European Union countries buy lots of petroleum products from these countries. Other import locations are Mexico, China, Brazil, Netherlands and Canada.
Crude oil Brokerage
Crude oil brokerage involves finding buyers and end users of the product. You need to first establish a sales contract with buyers.
There are many modes of transfer of crude oil from broker to buyer. Some common methods involve tanker to tanker transfer, tanker take over and free board operations.
In a many counties there are lots of documentation and bottlenecks that make the business tedious. To start a crude oil import/export business you need to learn the basics and secure the right documentation.
Work with Marketers
The price of oil fluctuates constantly based on many factors. Some of the factors are war, accidents, over/under production and other parameters.
You need to stay abreast of changing prices and network with marketers. The reason is because you need the best prices to buy the product. Make sure the marketers are genuine with good track record.
Connect with Buyers
Finding both domestic and international buyers is a herculean task. This is because there are only a few legitimate buyers of the product.
Contact regulatory bodies in countries of interest for list of genuine buyers. Finding them is one challenge and securing a contract to supply another.
Crude oil producers usually have registered marketers for their products so approach them for references. The best places to find crude oil buyers are countries with little or no reserve of crude.
You also need to sign commission contract with buyers.

Start a Gallstone Exportation Business

Gallstone exportation involves packaging and selling a solid mass found in the gallbladder of an animal. The clay like solid is usually harvested from mature cows or oxen.
They come in different sizes, shapes, colors and dimensions. To determine the value, the solid substance is dried and weighed. The color is usually determined by elements in the substance.
The gallstones are predominantly used by alternate medicine practitioners and pharmaceutical companies. Investors in this business need to guard against the prevalence of fake products.
Good quality gallstones are usually sourced from slaughter slabs, abattoirs and farms. The mineral elements have significant commercial value and come in different color, shape and sizes.
Advantages of Starting a Gallstone Exportation Business
There are several advantages to starting a gallstone exportation business. The business is highly lucrative and requires low capital investment.
Other benefits are that demand outweighs supply. You can work part time and supply the product year round. You done need an export license but proper standardization should be maintained.
What are Gallstones?
Gallstones derive the name from solid material formed in a small organ beneath the liver. The formation of the element is of two kinds’ cholesterol stones and pigment stones.
Bilirubin from the bile constitutes the stone including genetic pointers, weight, dietary factors and medical conditions.
Gallstone Shape and Color
The stones come in two distinct colors darkish brown and orange brown. There shapes vary from pyramid shape, powder, egg shape.
The sizes vary from 10grams-100grams and are hen egg sized or small bird egg sized. Not all gallstones have value and could be graded from no commercial value, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, poor quality, non dry.
Orange whole, orange broken and dark whole gallbladder stones are commercially valuable.
Gallstone Grade Description
  • Grade 1-Whole orange
  • Grade 2-Small size, whole dark, broken orange
  • Grade 3- Crumbled gallstones, Broken dark
  • Grade 4- Non-dry, Poor quality
Sources of Gallstones
Gallstones are moderately challenging to source and you need genuine suppliers. The primary sources for gallstones are slaughter slabs, abattoirs and oxen/cattle farms. They are harvested from bulls, oxen’s, bison’s, cattle’s and buffalos.
  • Oxen
  • Cattle  
  • Bulls
  • Buffalos
  • Bison  
Uses of Gallstones
The solid compound is used in alternative medicine and pharmaceutical products. It has antipyretic, sedative and anti-inflammatory properties. it is used in hepatic treatment, reduction of toxins and circulatory properties.
Commercial Value
Gallstone export business has significant commercial value. The highly priced elements attract premium prices and require low capital investment.
However you need to identify original products from fake ones that abound in the market. The value depends on the quality of the gallstone, size, texture and preservation.
A high quality golden brown gallstone could attract $18 per gram or $14, 000 per kilo. The broken stones attract significantly less than egg shaped verity. The method of preservation greatly influences the price you get for your product.
Gallstone Collection
The main difficulty in this type of business is collecting the product. Although gallstone can be found in zebus, bison, buffalos, bulls, oxen and cattle.
Focus on readily available sources such as oxen and cattle. Harvesting the bovines should be done delicately by sifting the bladder to detect the presence of the stone.
Collect them in a sieve and detach any affixed to the lining. Clean the stones in cold water to eradicate impurities and dirt.
Gallstone Preservation
The preservation process is simple and natural. Place in plastic bowl and store in dry, dark and ventilated storage.
Avoid refrigeration or any extreme temperatures of heat or cold. Turn over the gallstone periodically with the three weeks preservation period.
Once dry, check the weight and place in perfectly sealed plastic bag. Add newspaper crumpling or foam to protect the product.
Established markets are found in Europe, Asia, China and America. Quality products attract premium prices however they must conform to international packaging, preservation and standardization.

Start Shea Butter Exportation Business

Shea butter comes from the Shea nut found predominantly in Africa. The economic viability of the product is due to its various applications.
Majority of the produce is used in cosmetics, moisturizers, creams and lotions. Top suppliers of the product are found in West and Central Africa.
Major exporters of Shea butter are Central Republic, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Uganda. Others include republic of Ghana, Togo and Uganda.
In recent times the demand has risen exponentially because of patronage from large cosmetic companies. Shea butter is a vegetable fat extracted from dried kernels.
The off white extract is a fat substance predominantly used in cosmetic. Shea nut is harvested from the karate tree and refined to extract the fat.
The fat contains a complex mix of arachidic acid, linolenic acid and palmitic acid. More acids include fatty acid, stearic acid and oleic acid.
Sea butter export options available to investors include full time, freight forwarding, part time and brokerage deals.
shea butter
Major Exporters of Shea Butter
  • Central Republic
  • Nigeria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Uganda
  • Ghana
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Ivory Coast
  • Mali
Applications of Shea Butter
Shea butter has many economic applications such as skin care lotion, moisturizer and lotions. Other uses include ingredient in lip gloss, emulsions, soap and conditioners.
It is used for cooking, found in medical ointments for dry skin or pain relief. Stearin a derivative of processed Shea is used in the food industry.
Uses of Shea Butter Ingredients
  • Lipsticks
  • Sunscreen formula
  • Make-up
  • Emulsions
  • Lip gloss
  • Hair conditioners
  • Used in cooking
  • Medical ointments
  • Lotions
  • Creams
  • Moisturizers
  • Food industry
Shea Butter Extraction and Refining Process
Women using traditional methods usually start the process separating and cracking the dry nut. The nut is then crushed and boiled to extract the Shea butter.
The roasted nuts a stirred to prevent the Shea burning, then ground and water introduced into the mix. The water and kneading is added to separate the butter oil curds which are slowly melted in a separate pot.
It is then left to cool then shaped into balls. The traditional method sometimes causes impurities and contaminants in the product.
Marketing Opportunities
Exporters need to give serious consideration to consumer’s specification. Basic specification includes moisture content, free fatty acid and oil content.
Other specifications are solubility, color, texture and latex. The production method and specification is different for each industry based on the application.
Shea is exported in different forms such as finished, nut, instead, stearin or butter. Exporters must follow strict specifications and guidelines as dictated by the buyer.
There are lots of marketing opportunities in Europe, Denmark, Sweden, France and United Kingdom. Major industries that import the product are pharmaceuticals, food and cosmetic industry.
What drives the market is the huge demand for natural and organic products. International organizations use a portrait of rural women using traditional methods as a marketing tool.
There is also a demand to know the origin of the product and other certification. The industry is highly competitive so you need an effective marketing strategy. You need to follow the buyer’s specifications to avoid rejected cargo.
  • Organic declaration
  • Origin
  • Recommended storage instruction
  • Classification
  • Shelf life
  • Statement of identity
  • Ingredient declaration
  • Net quantity
Permits and Legalities
The label should have origin, classification and production method. You are required to follow legislations, documentation and regulation of buyer country.
Global buyer requirement may involve R&D certification, quality control, stages of production, practices and environmental concerns. Quality requirement include deodorizing, color, fatty acid composition and concentration of unsaponiables.
Labeling requirements include net weight, date of manufacture and best before. Others are name of exporter, contact address, place of origin, batch code and product classification.
Common documentations are safety data sheet, certificate of analysis and technical data sheet. Other documentation covers product information, certificate of origin and CAS number.
Use effective packaging and clean containers to avoid contaminants.
  • Standard certificate
  • Certificate of origin
  • Package list
  • Commercial invoice
  • Entry declaration
  • Bill of lading
  • Examination and inspection
  • Organic declaration
  • Quality assurance
  • Origin
Register your business as a limited liability company. Consult with exporters that have good knowledge of the business.
Buy only quality products and actively seek foreign buyers. You can source funds from agricultural banks or core investors. Stay abreast of production process and secure relevant documentation.

 image attribution-By TREEAID - Burkina's gold, CC BY 2.0,

How to Start Gum Arabic Exportation

The value chain for gum Arabic export starts from the raw material to export, sea freight, import and sales. The end market price is predicated on production levels of major exporter/importers of the product.
The largest producer of gum Arabic is Sudan with millions of dollars in annual sales. In Africa small farmers account for 80% the produce. Things that affect the price of the product are war, civil unrest, famine and government initiatives.
gum arabic
Advantage of Starting a gum Arabic Exportation Business
Gum Arabic is a highly sort after product in European markets. There are very few suppliers and many buyers.
The product has multiple industrial applications and is natural. It requires low skilled labor and low risk of substitution in products. The only disadvantage is that big companies dominate the import end and could influence prices.
Things to Consider Before Exporting Gum Arabic
  • Export procedures
  • Export planning/analysis
  • Sourcing quality product
  • Cost analysis
  • Export prices, specification and destination
  • Trade agreement
  • Company registration
  • Legalities
  • Export financing
Top Suppliers of Gum Arabic
Top suppliers of gum Arabic include Sudan, Senegal, Mali and Nigeria. Other producers are Northern Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Exporting yam from Nigeria
Grade of Gum Arabic Exported
Although there are two major types of gum Arabic harvested we have four grades exported. The four grades exported are mechanical powder or hand picked selected.
The other two grades are kibbled and spray dried powder. Kibbling involves harmer mills breaking down gum lumps into granular form.
The process of breaking down the gum could be applied manually or mechanically. The two types of granules produced vary in size and dimension and are cleaned grade or kibbled.
Spray drying produces highly soluble powder while mechanical powdering is easier than spray drying. Hand picked selected globules are cleaned, graded and sorted and further processed into powder.
What is Gum Arabic?
The hardened sap of different species of acacia tree is gum Arabic. The produce is primarily collected from two trees the Vachellia acacia Seyal and the Acacia Senegal.
The tree could be cultivated however most small farmers harvest directly from wild trees. Gum Arabic is edible and an original source for sugars such as ribose and arabinose.
Made from a complex brew of polysaccharides, glycoprotein it has lots of applications. The dry exudates harvest from the truck or branches of the seyal trees is usually pale white or orange brown.
Applications of Gum Arabic
The product has many manufacturing and product applications. Gum Arabic is found in glue, ink, dyes and the food industry.
It is found in soft drink syrups, pharmaceutical drugs and cosmetics. It produces adhesives used on envelops, postage stamps and is a good emulsifier.
Other important properties are binding agent and diluents. Lithographers use the gum to etch images on plate and some found in chewing gum.
  • Found in ink
  • Glue
  • Soft drinks
  • Syrups
  • Pharmaceutical drugs
  • Postage stamps
  • Cigarette wrappers
  • Chewing gum
  • Envelops
  • Beverages
  • Diary
  • Food manufacturing
  • Flavorings
  • Confectionery
Properties of Gum Arabic
The economic importance of gum Arabic is due to its amazing properties. The product is a good stabilizer, thickener and has adhesive properties.
It is a good binder, high fibre content and emulsifier. The soft drink industry is the major consumer of gum Arabic.
  • High fiber content
  • Binding quality
  • Emulsifier
  • Adhesive properties
  • Good thickener
  • Good stabilizer
Export Markets
Europe is the largest consumer of gum Arabic. Major players are United Kingdom, France and Germany.
The industry that uses the most amount of gum Arabic is the soft drinks industry. The focus on natural ingredients and clean labels drive the product. Another driving force is consumer demand for ethical products
Legal Requirements
The exportation of gum Arabic is subject to strict rules and regulations. Failure to comply will amount to rejected product and huge loss in revenue.
Legalities are geared towards adulterated products, contaminants, hygiene and method of extraction. Other guidelines are aimed at classification, packaging and proper labeling.
You need export documentation, liability insurance and good quality control. You need a food safety certificate and Kosher/Halal certificate.
Before exporting the product send a sample for analysis. Adulterants are a big issue in the gum Arabic business.
Make sure the gum Arabic is 100% natural and meets Europe quality requirements. Labeling is mandatory and should have net weight, batch number, date of manufacture and best before date.
Other requirements are your name/address, product name, recommended storage conditions and grade. Best packaging material is waterproof polythene/lined plastic bags. Some buyers have specific instructions on packaging material.
The exporter need to network with local farmers. You could have a centralized collection point for your produce.
Make sure what you buy is 100% natural and devoid of contaminants. You need to identify and find trade partners to sell the product.
how to start import/export business

image attribution- By Ji-Elle - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,