Steps to Starting a Mitumba Business in Kenya

Mitumba is a Kenyan name for second-hand clothes, handbags, school bags, and shoes. A mitumba business is one of the most lucrative businesses you can start with little capital. The sale of mitumba has changed many people’s lives, especially the youth who fail to secure formal employment. Middle-class Kenyans refer to second-hand products as “okoa jahazi” (save the yacht) since they are quite affordable and budget-friendly. All you need to do is play your cards right. Here is how to start mitumba business in Kenya.
Steps to Starting a Mitumba Business in Kenya

There are several reasons why starting a mitumba business in Kenya might be a good idea. These include:

  • High-profit margins – If you get a good market, you can sell your mitumba bales for twice as much as you bought them.
  • Ready market – Most Kenyans prefer mitumba clothes over new ones so you will always find a ready market to sell to.
  • Low startup costs – As we mentioned, you can get into the mitumba business with as low as KES 1,000.
  • Variety of products – You can sell anything from kid’s clothes, used shoes, jeans, jackets, and shirts to suits and socks.
  • Flexible location – You can sell at the roadside, near a learning institution, at the CBD, or even hawk around town. You don’t need a permanent business location. This exposes you to a wider customer base.

Steps to Starting a Mitumba Business in Kenya

  • Step 1: Pick A Business Model
  • Step 2: Choose Types of Mitumba to Sell
  • Step 3: Find A Good Location
  • Step 4: Get a Reliable Supplier 
  • Step 5: Get the Required Capital
  • Step 6: Buy Your First Bale
  • Step 7: Price Your Mitumba Clothes

Like any other business, you need a solid mitumba business plan before putting your money into it. However, you don’t need a complicated plan in order to see a breakthrough.

All you have to do is follow these four steps when coming up with your plan. In other words, they dictate how successful your business will probably be.

Step 1: Pick A Business Model

As we mentioned, there are two ways you can source mitumba products:

  • Buy a bale
  • Handpick single items

When to Buy Mitumba Bales

If you are looking to start big and have the budget for it, we recommend buying a bale instead of single items.

There are several benefits of buying a bale. These include:

  • Higher profit margins
  • Bigger stock that will last longer
  • You build a better relationship with your supplier

There are also a few caveats to buying a mitumba bale. For instance:

  • You might buy a bale that contains low-quality clothes than you expected
  • You need a good budget which might be tricky if you are starting small

When to Buy Single Items

Buying single mitumba clothes means going to a market like Kamukunji or Kongowea in Mombasa and then picking the best pieces yourself. This comes with several benefits such as:

  • Picking the best quality mitumba clothes since you can see what you are selecting
  • You don’t need a big budget

However, there are also a few disadvantages to buying single items. For instance:

  • The cost per item will be higher than when you buy a bale. This reduces your profit margins
  • You will need to physically visit a mitumba store and buy the items. This might be draining and time-consuming.

If you don’t have a lot of money, you can start with the second model. When you buy individual items, you can start with as low as KES 1,000. However, as your business grows, you should get a good supplier and start buying mitumba bales.

The average price of a mitumba bale in Kenya is around KES 25,000

Step 2: Choose Types of Mitumba to Sell

It is totally okay to sell all types of mitumba clothes. However, if you want to build a brand around your business, you will need to niche down. For instance, you can focus on just jackets, kidswear, sweatpants, ladies’ shoes, etc.

One advantage of selling only products from a certain group is customers will start to associate you with professionalism. So, instead of being known just as the ‘mitumba guy’ you will be known as ‘Mercy was Blouses’ or ‘Njoro was Bags’. This makes it easier to brand your business.

If I am looking for a good pair of mitumba sweatpants, I am more likely to go to ‘Mercy’s Mitumba Sweatpants’, instead of to the guy that sells everything.

Of course, there is the fear that selling only a specific type of mitumba clothes means you will miss on some customers. But that is not the case. There are several benefits of niching down:

  • It becomes easy to build a brand for your business
  • You build a better relationship with your customers since you know exactly what they want when they come to you.
  • You understand your products well with time and, therefore, give customers the best quality.
  • It is easier to manage your mitumba business.

There are several things you will need to consider when choosing the types of clothes to sell. They include:

  • Profitability – Of course, you want to focus on the most profitable pieces
  • Culture – If you sell skimpy dresses in a Muslim area, you are likely to make a loss. The same will also sell like hot cakes in a city like Nairobi.
  • Weather – Don’t go selling jackets in Mombasa.

What Are The Most Profitable Mitumba Clothes to Sell in Kenya?

The most profitable mitumba clothes to sell in Kenya include:

  • Mixed blouses
  • Ladies cotton pants
  • Skirts
  • Jeggings (heavy)
  • Ladies tops
  • Official men trousers
  • School bags
  • Leggings
  • Children jackets
  • Dresses
  • Shoes

Step 3: Find A Good Location – What is the Best Place to Sell Mitumba Clothes in Kenya?

The best location to sell mitumba clothes should be strategic, crowded, and with your target market.

Location is VERY important when it comes to Mitumba business. Your location will make or break the business. It also determines if you need any permits. For example, a shop or stall needs a business permit.

If you choose to sell your clothes in an open-air market, you will have daily county taxes to deal with. The only free location is on social media platforms.

Also, consider how populated the place is. The ideal location should be super busy with many prospective customers. Think of a town center or at the stage or near educational institutions and estates. The aim is to showcase your merchandise to as many prospective clients as possible.

On the other hand, you can decide to be a remote seller and hawk from one area to another. While this might be more hectic, with time it will be worth it. You will meet new customers every day, build relationships, and probably increase your sales. Eventually, you’ll build a loyal clientele.

If you choose to have an online store, your business social media pages should be active. Consider promoting some posts to draw more traffic at the beginning.

For a more detailed guide on how to choose a good business location, check out the recommended guidelines below.

Best Places to Start A Mitumba Business in Nairobi

  • Gikomba
  • Ngara
  • Umoja
  • Kasarani
  • Muthurwa
  • Embakasi
  • Saika
  • Kawangware
  • Kibera
  • Pipeline
  • Syokimau
  • Mlolongo
  • Dagoretti
  • Thika
  • Githurai
  • Mutindwa
  • Rui

Best Places to Start A Mitumba Business in Mombasa

  • Kongowea market
  • Sega market
  • Buxton market
  • Kisauni
  • Mackinnon market
  • Chaani market
  • Majengo market
  • Soko mjinga

Step 4: Get a Reliable Supplier – Who are the Best Mitumba Suppliers in Kenya?

A supplier has to be legit and loyal, with fair prices. With so many conmen in the mitumba market, we advise you to do your research and settle for a person with a trustworthy track record. You can do this by joining Facebook groups like Mitumba Chap Chap where sellers and buyers discuss everything about the business and expose cons.

You will also get their contacts and remain updated on the latest stock arrival. Moreover, their prices have to be reasonable. Sample a few of them, look at the difference in their price lists, check who has the best customer reviews or recommendations, and you will get a good one.

In a nutshell, a good mitumba supplier should:

  • Be trustworthy
  • Have a good reputation with other mitumba traders
  • Have good quality mitumba clothes
  • Be affordable
  • Have a wide variety of mitumba clothes to pick from
  • Be close to you so you don’t spend a lot on transportation
  • Offer some advice and tips on how to make it in the business

The Best Mitumba Bale Suppliers in Kenya

  • Kamukunji Mitumba Bales – 0726 176755
  • Mitumba Chap Chap Bales – 0722 861191
  • Maria Mitumba Bales Wholesellers –  0722 648796
  • Premium Mitumba Bales –  0723 832253
  • Bei Nafuu Mitumba Wholesalers – G7F6+V7C, Eldoret
  • Ryan Kenya Mitumba Bales –  0700 015141
  • Quality Mitumba Bales – 0717 960003
  • Ratego Mitumba bales –  0712 490045

Step 5: Get the Required Capital

As we mentioned, the mitumba business in Kenya has a low barrier to entry. This is because you don’t need a lot of money to start it. Based on the model of your business and the type of clothes you want to sell, the amount of capital you will need varies.

Some of the factors that will determine how much capital you need to start a mitumba clothes business include:

  • Quality and Type of the Clothes: You will pay more for newer clothes than old ones. Adult clothes also tend to be more expensive than kidswear.
  • Mitumba bales vs individual clothes: You will need more startup capital if you are purchasing a bale as compared to handpicking individual clothes.
  • The supplier: Some suppliers will charge you more than others. So make sure to shop around and compare suppliers before settling on one.
  • Licenses and permits: If you are operating in major towns, you might be required to obtain a business permit. The cost of the permits will vary depending on the location and size of your business.
  • Rent: If you plan on operating from a single permanent location, you will need to factor in the cost of rent in your area.
  • Transport: If you will be buying your mitumba bales from one location and selling in another, you will need to consider transportation costs. The cost will be even higher if you are importing the bales from, say the U.S.A.
  • Staff: If your mitumba business is big and want to hire someone to help, you will need to factor in how much you will be paying them.

Step 6: Buy Your First Bale – What are the Most Profitable Mitumba Bales in Kenya?

Okay, now you know what you want to sell and you have found a good supplier. It is time to buy your first bale! The first thing you will need to do is understand the different types of mitumba bales.

You will also need to be familiar with the pricing so you don’t get ripped off by suppliers.

To understand if a bale is overpriced, you have to know which type of bale it is. Most suppliers barely explain the types, instead, they simply state them. That is why we can’t emphasize this enough.

Types of Mitumba Bales in Kenya

There are about 5 types of bales. We will look at what they contain, and where you should sell them for a higher return on investment.

The most common types of Mitumba bales in Kenya are:

  • Creme bales
  • Grade A bales
  • Grade B bales
  • Grade C bales
  • Grade D bales

Crème Bale

As the name suggests, this is the crème de la crème of bales. It contains new clothes which are made or bought, never worn, and consequently donated. You will mostly find clothes with intact price tags. Because of the contents, this bale is the most expensive. You will need at least 30k to get one, especially for kids.

Crème bale clothes retail in boutiques or high-end shops where your target market is mainly the middle class. 

Grade A Bale

This is the second category of mitumba bales. It consists of high-quality clothes that are slightly used with barely any defects. While it’s usually a rummage, you can get some bales with specific materials and designs. You can get a good grade A bale with less than 26k, depending on what you want to sell.

If you buy this bale, divide your clothes according to quality. For the best, commonly known as cameras, sell them in a shop or online. The rest, you can take to an open-air market and sell for reduced prices.

Grade B Bale

Grade B bale is of lower quality and cheaper in comparison to Grade A. However, it still has some appealing pieces. Take this bale to an open-air market, then sort the clothes out into different affordable price categories.

The most expensive cloth in this category retail for about 200-300 shillings and go as low as 50 bob.

Grade C Bale

This bale contains mitumba clothes that have minor defects such as ink spills, small tears, faded colour, or dents in leather products.

Fortunately, most of these defects can be corrected before taking your clothes to the customer.

Grade D Bale

Clothes in Grade D bales have major defects that you might not be able to rectify. They are the cheapest mitumba clothes and don’t have good profit since you might be forced to sell some pieces at throw-away prices.

So, if you are looking to make a good profit by selling to the middle class, we recommend you avoid Grade C and Grade D bales.

Mitumba bales prices in Kenya will vary depending on the type of bale you are buying and your supplier.

How Much is A Bale of Mitumba in Kenya?

The price of mitumba bales in Kenya will depend on the quality and contents of the bale. For instance, a Creme bale will be more expensive than a Grade A Bale while Grade A Bale is pricier than a Grade B Bale. The specific pricing will depend on your supplier.

The prices will also be different if you are hand-picking instead of buying a bale. The location might also affect the cost of Mitumba bales in Kenya.

For instance, mitumba bales in Eldoret might be more expensive than in Nairobi.

Step 7: Price Your Mitumba Clothes

Once you’ve got your stock, you need to be strategic and avoid losses. For every capital spent on mitumba, you need to get at least a 50% profit.

For example, if you decide to hand-pick items worth Ksh 1000, you should get at least 500 profit or more. Therefore, if you bought each cloth at Ksh 30, sell the best at Ksh 100 and the cheapest at 50 bob.

In another case, consider if you take a baby rummage bale with 400 pieces at 18k. Here, you need to get the camera ones and sell around 200 each.

If there are 100 camera pieces, they will give you 20k. With that, you already have your capital back. Now sell the other pieces at lower prices and reap the profits.

When doing the math, don’t forget to include other factors like transport, rent, business permits and daily county taxes, if any apply. Ultimately, the sales should be able to make the mitumba business self-sufficient. If at any point you go back into your pockets, that’s a huge red flag. Re-evaluate your strategy.

How to Succeed in Mitumba Business: Bonus Tips

Starting a business is one thing but maintaining it is a different case. To successfully grow your mitumba business, here are a few tips:

  • Restock frequently
  • Listen to your customers
  • Understand trends
  • Be financially disciplined
  • Buy stock in bales


Is mitumba business profitable? Yes, it is. Starting a mitumba clothes business is an excellent idea. However, the business has its ups and downs ranging from harassment by authorities like town councils and frequent fires especially for traders in Gikomba market.

So there you have it, tips and tricks on how to start a Mitumba business in Kenya. Don’t let your small capital deter you. From humble beginnings come great things. Get up, strategize, get your merchandise, and start selling. With time, you will climb up the ladder.

To start and maintain a successful mitumba business in Kenya, you need patience and resilience. Many people start this business but only a few stand out. You need to love fashion and keep up with the changing trends in order to identify best mitumba clothes to sell. Provide what your customers need.

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