In any business you choose to start in Kenya, you are limitless. This is because you are not held down by the shackles of employment, but rather free to explore and make profits by running successful enterprises. A carpentry/woodwork business is a good example of freedom to explore and profit-making. Therefore, if you have been looking to start and run a carpentry business in Kenya to success, this article is just the right choice for you.
Herein, we will dive into the nitty gritty, from what you need to start, how to launch the business and some possible obstacles that you may face as you run this venture.
What is Carpentry and Woodwork?
Carpentry is the art and skill of crafting, shaping and manipulating wood to create various structures, furniture and other items.
To many people carpentry and woodwork are synonyms. However, there is a slight variation in their meanings.
Carpentry is mainly focused on projects involving construction, whereas woodwork encompasses a broader range of activities involving designs and furniture making.
What are the types/classifications of carpentry and woodwork?
The list is long, but here is a brief classification criterion.
|Rough Carpentry||Furniture Making|
|Cabinet-Making||Wood Carving and Turning|
|Formwork Carpentry||Scroll sawing etc.|
Different carpenters and woodworkers have different ways of tackling business. Some may choose to specialize in one category while others may choose to be Jacks of all trades.
As much as niche specialization is the best, your choice also matters, assuming that you do your due diligence first.
Why start a carpentry and woodworking business in Kenya?
Carpentry and woodworking businesses have a myriad of advantages in Kenya. These include:
- People will always need furniture for their houses and wood for their buildings, thus the business will never get obsolete. Further, there will always be a high demand for wood products, especially if you are good at your craft.
- You get the opportunity of showcasing your skills and craftsmanship. In the scenario where you love woodwork, this could be a career that is both profitable and enjoyable.
- Wood is a renewable resource, and thus sustainable. This can be especially appealing to environmentally conscious customers.
- Wood products are of high value, especially if designed to perfection. This will help you rake in huge profits.
- There is a variety of niches that you can choose to specialize in.
Stick to the end to see the disadvantages of this craft.
With that out of the way, what do you need to start a carpentry and woodwork business in Kenya?
1. Carpentry Training
First things first, you will need to get the necessary woodworking skills from the relevant authorities. Formal training is important as you will get equipped will all the necessary skills needed for this craftsmanship.
To get such training, consider applying for a short technical course in a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institute.
These courses may take between one to six months of training depending on the depth of knowledge you desire to acquire.
Once you have gotten the necessary skills, you can now proceed to set up your business.
2. Capital Requirements
How much do you need to start a carpentry business in Kenya?
This depends on several factors such as the size of your business, the location of your workshop and the type of furniture you choose to specialize in.
Generally speaking, however, a budget of between Ksh.50,000 to Ksh.200,000 will get you on the right track.
Here is the breakdown:
|Expense Category||Budget Range (Ksh)|
|Workshop/Space Rental||20,000 – 40,000|
|Tools and Equipment||40,000 – 80,000|
|Raw Materials||20,000 – 40,000|
|Labor||5,000 – 20,000|
|Licenses and permits||5,000 – 10,000|
|Marketing and Branding||5,000 – 15,000|
|Utilities||5,000 – 10,000|
|Transportation||5,000 – 10,000|
|Safety and Insurance||5,000 – 10,000|
|Miscellaneous Expenses||5,000 – 10,000|
|Training||5,000 – 10,000|
|Grand Total||120,000 – 265,000|
Please note that the budget provided above is a rough estimate and will probably vary from what you get as you embark on making the necessary purchases.
3. Select a Location for your workshop
Just like any other business, you should strive to set up your business in a location that is accessible, secure, visible from passersby and in a high-activity area.
Further, your workspace should be spacious, to facilitate easy movement and furniture making.
4. Tools and equipment you’ll need
Below is a list of tools and equipment you will need to run a carpentry/woodwork business in Kenya.
|Tools/Equipment||Estimated Cost Range (Ksh)|
|Hand Saw||800 – 2,000|
|Circular Saw||6,000 – 12,000|
|Power Drill||2,500 – 5,000|
|Chisels Set||1,500 – 3,000|
|Measuring Tape||200 – 500|
|Carpenter’s Square||300 – 800|
|Workbench||5,000 – 10,000|
|Hammer||300 – 800|
|Screwdrivers Set||500 – 1,500|
|Clamps||1,000 – 3,000|
|Sandpaper and Sanding Tools||500 – 1,500|
|Safety Gear (Goggles, Gloves, etc.)||1,000 – 2,500|
|Wood Glue||300 – 600|
|Paint Brushes/Rollers||300 – 800|
|Finishing Materials||1,000 – 3,000|
|Total Budget Range||20,000 – 40,000|
After making the necessary purchases, you will need to get a reliable timber supplier. Make sure you use quality timber for furniture, lest you risk losing your clients to competition.
Marketing and Sales
Once you have set up your business and made attractive furniture, it’s time to attract the right clients. To do this, you will have to rely on various methods of marketing, i.e., digital and local marketing.
Here are the methods you should employ for marketing:
- Word-of-mouth – Telling friends and family will help you get your first customer, helping you stay afloat while the business is picking up. Further, you can also visit potential customers such as academic institutions and pitch your services for sale to them.
- Branding – Use displays, banners and posters to attract eyes and potential customers to your business premises.
- E-commerce and Digital Marketing – Setting up an online store for your products will go a long way in attracting more customers, apart from the ones that physically visit your store. The potential to grow your business is higher if you have a strong online presence.
After working on marketing, you will have to work on your pricing, taking care not to charge too high or too low so that you don’t reach your business’s breakeven.
NOTE: Premium products/designs attract premium pricing.
Is the carpentry business profitable?
The profitability of a carpentry business depends on several factors, including location, market demand, skills and craftsmanship, pricing strategy, competition, and your ability to manage expenses.
Carpentry and woodwork businesses have the potential to be profitable, but success is not guaranteed as it depends on various considerations.
Nevertheless, according to Nexin-Startups, you can set a 40% profit margin above the cost of making furniture to cater for labour and other overhead costs.
What are the major disadvantages of a carpentry and woodwork business in Kenya?
While a carpentry and woodwork business in Kenya can be a rewarding venture, some disadvantages are worth considering before you start this business.
Here are a few:
- High Competition – Newcomers and novices usually find it hard to compete with already established businesses. This may make it hard for you to reach your breakeven.
- Skilled Labor Shortage – Once you start getting numerous clients, you may need to employ additional hands to help you in your craft. Getting the right people for the job could be tricky.
- Raw Material Costs: The cost of raw materials, particularly wood, can be subject to price fluctuations because of factors like supply availability and market conditions. This can impact your profit margins.
- Quality Control – Ensuring consistent quality in your products can be challenging, especially if you’re relying on multiple suppliers for materials. Therefore, consider settling on one main supplier for all your timber needs.
This post has taken you through the main things you should consider when starting a carpentry and woodwork business in Kenya. While the disadvantages mentioned above can seem daunting, there are various ways of evading disaster and making profits from this venture.
Even after following the strategies laid out, you will need to have patience and perseverance, especially in the first few months after launch when there is slow growth.
Nevertheless, Good Luck!