Resilient Businesses You Can Start in 2024

In times of economic uncertainty, finding stable and in-demand business opportunities is key to success. The following list comprises ten business ideas that not only have the potential to thrive during challenging times but also address essential needs across various sectors. The common thread tying these ventures together is the consistent demand they enjoy, making them resilient options for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially for the dynamic young professionals of Zambia and Africa.

  1. Opening a Pharmacy

No matter how hard the economy gets, people will almost always prioritise their health. Therefore, opening a pharmacy or drug store can be a crucial response to satisfying this fundamental need. Pharmacy, in comparison to many other industries, has high profit margins. However, like any business venture, how profitable a pharmacy is depends on several factors such as location, the quality of the people you hire, competition, branding, inventory costs and how well you manage the business.

To secure a certificate of registration, you must ensure that you:

  1. Pay prescribed fees
  2. Complete an application form
  3. Secure a valid practising certificate for the pharmacist in charge
  4. Secure a valid practising certificate for the pharmacy operator
  5. Provide a letter of agreement or employment contract between the pharmacist and the company
  6. Provide a letter of agreement or employment contract between the hospital pharmacy operator and the company (if applicable)
  7. Show by way of sketching where the proposed premises is located
  8. Secure a certificate of incorporation or certificate of registration

Additionally, there are expenses related to ordering inventory, renting the premises housing the pharmacy, hiring a registered pharmacist (a legal requirement in Zambia), costs associated with the design and layout of the establishment, advertising, and acquiring the necessary technology for efficient business operations. It is not a cheap business to start, but if you get it right, it can be hugely profitable.

2. Tutoring Business

In times of economic downturns, families tend to implement discretionary spending measures to try and remain afloat and maintain financial stability. This may involve cutting expenses on non-essential items such as entertainment, dining out, subscription services and a whole host of items that fall in this category. One thing however that remains a priority is education, as parents are more willing to cut spending on less important items to finance education. Consequently, a tutoring business, particularly specialising in subjects like Mathematics, Economics, Accounting, Finance, and the sciences, aligns with the demand for ongoing learning at both secondary and tertiary levels.

One of the remarkable aspects of venturing into tutoring is the flexibility it offers in terms of start-up costs; you can initiate this endeavour with minimal initial investment, sometimes as low as K0. This in essence makes tutoring an accessible and budget-friendly option for aspiring entrepreneurs, allowing them to begin their educational services journey without the burden of substantial upfront expenses. The simplicity in commencing a tutoring business stresses its potential as a cost-effective and lucrative venture, making it an attractive choice for those looking to enter the education industry without significant financial barriers.

3. Money Lending Business

As commercial banks raise interest rates, small players in the money lending sector can emerge with relatively lower interest rates. When central banks increase rates, it often leads to an overall rise in borrowing costs across the financial landscape. Therein lies the opportunity for smaller money lending entities to attract borrowers by providing more competitive interest rates compared to larger institutions. 

Admittedly, it is important to adhere to the legal framework governing money lending.  If you decide to enter this space, remember that you have a responsibility as a micro-lending business player to contribute to responsible financial assistance amidst tough economic conditions. By offering accessible and affordable borrowing options, your small lending institution can meet the financial needs of individuals and businesses who may be seeking alternatives to the higher rates set by major banks. There is a niche for these kinds of businesses in the market. 

4. Digital Services

The demand for digital services, including advertising, email marketing, blogging, website building, and social media marketing, remains consistently high. As businesses adapt to the digital era, skilled professionals in these areas are sought after. Here is why you should start this kind of business:

  • Low start-up costs- Digital businesses often have lower overhead costs compared to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. There is no need for physical storefronts, inventory, or extensive equipment. This significantly reduces initial investment requirements.

  • You can work from anywhere- Many digital services can be offered remotely. This eliminates the need for a physical office space, further reducing costs associated with rent, utilities, and maintenance. Entrepreneurs can operate these businesses from home, saving on commuting expenses.

  • Freelance opportunities- Digital services often fall within the realm of freelance or gig work. Freelancers can offer their expertise on various platforms, connecting with clients globally. This allows individuals to start a business without the need for significant capital or infrastructure.

  • Scalability- Digital businesses have the potential to scale. As demand for services increases, entrepreneurs can scale their operations without proportional increases in costs. This scalability allows for organic growth and the ability to reinvest profits back into the business.

Examples of local digital firms include Chisenga Multimedia and Sow Communications headquartered in Lusaka but that serve a global audience remotely.

5. Small Agriculture Holding
Establishing a small-scale agricultural venture that focuses on cultivating cost-effective crops like rape, Chinese cabbage, spinach, spring onions, and more addresses the ongoing need for affordable and locally sourced produce. An exemplar of such an initiative is visible along Burma Road in Chilenje South, Lusaka, where smallholder farmers specialise in growing seedlings for various crops, including those mentioned above. This model not only ensures a sustainable and diverse supply of fresh vegetables but also contributes to the resilience of the agricultural sector, especially in the face of economic challenges. By prioritising crops that are both economical and in constant demand, such agricultural small holdings play a crucial role in promoting food stability and accessibility within the community.

6. Death Care Services

In the face of economic challenges, the demand for death care services continues to endure. This is because, no matter how well (or not) one lives, their end is certain. We are all going to die; there is nothing you can do about it- except start a business around it of course. 

What is true is that despite economic hardships, individuals and families recognise the importance of honouring their departed loved ones with dignity and respect. Funeral services play a pivotal role in guiding bereaved families through the process of saying their final goodbyes, ensuring that the departed are accorded a meaningful and respectful farewell. In this context, the funeral industry not only provides an essential service but also becomes a pillar of support for those navigating the complexities of grief and loss. 

7. Food Business

The food industry, being centred around a basic necessity, demonstrates remarkable resilience. Whether establishing a restaurant, catering service, or engaging in food delivery, the consistent demand for high-quality food remains a constant. What we see in this sector is that there is many opportunities for innovation within this sector to cater to the unique needs of diverse consumer groups. For instance, there is a growing market for meal plans tailored to students, bachelors, and busy professionals who face time constraints or lack the inclination to cook. 

Entrepreneurs can thus explore the concept of offering pre-cooked meals that align with the preferences and dietary requirements of these target demographics. This innovation not only addresses the challenges of time and culinary skills but also taps into the convenience sought by modern lifestyles. An example of such innovation can be seen in the provision of affordable and nutritious meal plans that cater to the specific tastes and dietary needs of students and professionals, ensuring they have access to wholesome and ready-to-eat meals without compromising on quality.

8. Transport Business

Engaging in the transportation business, whether through ride-hailing apps, delivery services, taxi services, or commuter buses, presents a lucrative opportunity given the enduring demand for moving people and goods. Joining a ride-hailing app is a practical and accessible way for aspiring entrepreneurs to enter this dynamic sector. Platforms like Yango or local alternatives provide a user-friendly interface for drivers to register and start offering their services.

9. Beauty Products

Research indicates that during economic hardships, a fascinating phenomenon known as the “lipstick effect” comes into play. This effect describes the tendency of individuals to redirect their spending toward modest indulgences, particularly beauty products, as a form of self-care. Launching a beauty products business strategically aligns with this inclination for self-enhancement and well-being during challenging economic periods. The “lipstick effect” term, originally coined to depict increased sales of small indulgences like lipstick in economic downturns, underscores the consistent demand for beauty items. By leveraging this consumer behaviour, initiating a beauty products business becomes a savvy response to the innate desire for self-care, even amid economic challenges. Products like perfumes, face scrubs, lotions, powders, and acrylic nails are particularly in high demand in such scenarios.

10 Selling Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs)

Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) encompass products characterised by a rapid turnover rate, and they span a wide array of everyday essentials. This category includes toiletries like toothpaste, soap, and shampoo, over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers and cold medicine, as well as packaged foods like cereals, snacks, and beverages. The defining feature of FMCGs is their swift movement off the shelves due to their necessity and frequent use, ensuring an enduring and constant demand.

There you have it. These business ideas are not only resilient but also have the potential to make a positive impact on communities. By recognising and responding to essential needs, entrepreneurs can navigate challenges and contribute to the economic growth of Zambia and Africa.

Alexander Zulu


  1. Winston here from Iowa. I’m always watching to see what newer sites are going up and I just wanted to see if you would like an extra hand with getting some targeted traffic, create videos/images/adcopy, remove negative listings, the list goes on. I’ll even shoulder 90% of the costs, dedicating my time and tools that I’ve created myself and bought over the years. I’ve been doing this for over 22 years, helped thousands of people and have loved every minute of it.

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    • Hi Winston. Thanks for getting in touch. Seeing as we are still getting organised, we will get in touch once we know what sort of help we will need from you.Thanks again.

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