The campaign season is upon us once again (if you’re from Kenya that is) which means politicians will be spending big money on posters, t-shirts, caps and umbrellas. And beyond the campaign season; companies, governments and institutions always have projects to run and they need….you guessed it…lot’s of promotional materials. So how can you start a business that fulfills this exact need? Is there a lot of money involved? We take a look.

How To Get Started

You need to invest in a digital heat press machine (you can always upgrade to a more advanced machine as your business grows), a computer and a few sample materials (e.g. sample t-shirts, umbrellas etc). Also, you need to some graphic design skills which you can acquire through local trainings (consider interning at a busy printing shop to learn the best practices of this hustle). Lastly, you need good marketing and networking skills.

A big office is not even necessary for this kind of business. We have seen companies that were started and run from verandahs and even bedrooms. The key thing is to keep marketing and get as many clients as possible.

You can particularly approach corporate clients, politicians, schools and even large public gatherings e.g. graduation ceremonies.

Most importantly, you need to approach suppliers of blank apparels. Whether blank t-shirts or blank umbrellas depending on what your clients want.

T-Shirt Printing Business

You simply import plain t-shirts from China or buy locally. Then you do some design work on your computer and send it to the digital heat press machine and place your t-shirts for printing. You can charge as much as Ksh500 per printed t-shirt depending on the quality of the shirt and it’s design.

Umbrella Printing

You acquire umbrellas on wholesale then customize them according to your client’s requirements. Depending on nature of the job, you can charge as much as Ksh2,000 per umbrella.

Branding Of Gift Items

We are talking about metallic business cardholders, cups, mugs, biro pens, diaries, and so forth. You buy them on wholesale, brand them and price them in a manner that gives you some good profit margins.

One mistake people make with this kind of business is they buy the machines, open an office and then sit there hoping for customers to walk in. Wise businessmen however operate by going to where their customers are. Keep knocking on doors and keep doing a good job for your clients. This way you will get so many referrals and your small factory will always be busy. Most importantly do a great job and customers will keep giving you additional referrals.

How Much To Invest



Heat press machine


Refurbished computer


Samples & Marketing budget




TOTAL BUDGET (Minimum Possible)


How Much To Expect

Returns may vary depending on factors such as number of years one has been in this business, quality of work, quality of clients and nature of pricing. On average, small-scale printers look forward to Ksh2 Million in sales per month – with a net profit of 40%. But once again the figures can be higher or lower than that depending on the skills of the businessman involved.

Extra Tips

You can combine this business with others like printing of posters, fliers and calendars. Also, you can capitalize on student leadership politics in Universities e.g. SONU and KUSO campaigns to drive even more sales.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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