Best Small Machines to Start Your Processing Business in Africa

Do you know with a small budget of less than $1000 you can venture into profitable manufacturing? Using modern machines?

Most governments and NGOs believe that manufacturing is Africa’s answer to wealth and job creation. However, potential entrepreneurs have a misplaced belief that it is an expensive undertaking. The answer is cheap investments in the cottage industry.

In this post, explore the 11 best machines to start your cottage manufacturing business at home or in a rural setting.

What is the Cottage Industry?

A cottage industry is a small manufacturing business that is owned and operated by an individual or a family, typically operating out of a home rather than a purpose-built facility.

These businesses often utilize family labor and available local talent, use simple equipment, and have a small capital investment. The sector produces a wide range of goods in weaving, pottery, and tiffin making. Other areas are incense stick making, pickling, clothing, furniture making, candle making, and soap making among others.

The cottage industry has a rich history dating back centuries and continues to play a significant role in various economies worldwide.

Why Invest in Cottage Manufacturing?

woman working with traditional weaving loom

The advantages of cottage businesses include the creation of employment opportunities and generating incomes, conserving local traditions and customs, and promoting them by producing great local product

Here are 5 reasons you should consider investing in cottage industry for a new business or expanding your existing one

  • Minimal startup costs: Cottage industries require a small amount of investment to start.
  • Low overhead: Since cottage industries are often run out of homes, they have low overhead costs
  • Opportunity for rural dwellers: Cottage industries are the best business idea in rural areas. It can provide a source of income for people upcountry where jobs are scarce.
  • Reliant on basic infrastructure to get products to market: Cottage industries require basic infrastructure to transport their products to market
  • Niche Market: Cottage industries can be an ideal fit for high-value market segments that don’t appeal to big producers such as beads making.

Given the cheap access to electricity and, you can now invest in machines for an automated cottage manufacturing.

Best Machines for a Modern Cottage Industry Business

Looking for the best machines to start your cottage business in Africa on a budget?

In this list, learn the 11 best machines you can order from AliExpress, Amazon, or locally for under $1000! You will explore the potential businesses for each of those incredible machines and how you can transform your entrepreneurial dreams into reality.

These unique machines are not just affordable; they also open the door to diverse business opportunities. Whether you’re a tea enthusiast, a creative artist, or someone looking for innovative ways to generate income, there’s a cheap AliExpress machine for you.

1. Fruit Dehydrator Machine

Drying and preserving fruits with an electronic dehydrator. Kitchen tool and heap of various fruits on a wooden table.

The Fruit Dehydrator Machine preserves fruits, vegetables, and herbs by removing their moisture. It works on the principle of gently heating and circulating air to dry food. The process extends the shelf life of the produce and intensifies its flavor.

  • Investment: Under $1000
  • What it Does: Preserve fruits, vegetables, and herbs by removing moisture.
  • Business Ideas: Offer dried fruit snacks, sell dried herbs and spices, or create artisanal dried fruit gift baskets.

As a potential business venture, you can offer a range of dried fruit snacks, from classic options like apple chips and banana slices to more exotic varieties such as dried mango or pineapple.

You can also venture into the world of dried herbs and spices, providing customers with high-quality ingredients for their culinary endeavors.

Finally, you can consider creating artisanal dried fruit gift baskets, which can be a delightful and healthy gift option for various occasions.

2. Pellet Making Machines

A pellet-making machine creates pellets from powdered material, such as biomass material, animal feed, and tea leaves. The machine uses rollers and flat dies to press the material into pellets of a specific size and shape

  • Investment: Approximately $900
  • What it Does: Produce pellets from various materials.
  • Business Ideas: Enter the eco-friendly fuel industry by making wood pellets or venture into the animal feed market.

The first business you can start is making eco-friendly fuels by producing wood pellets. These pellets are an efficient source of energy, particularly for heating and cooking. Consider marketing wood pellets to environmentally conscious consumers seeking clean energy fuel sources.

The second business idea is animal feed processing. You will supply quality animal feed pellets to local farmers and pet owners. It can ensure the good health and well-being of their animals.

Finally, you can make specialty animal feeds, such as those designed for exotic pets or specific livestock like calf, sheep, or pig pellets.

3. Tea Bag Making Machine

A tea bag-making machine is a device used to automatically create tea bags for packaging tea leaves

The machine uses rolls of filter paper or non-woven fabric to create the inner filter bags. You will fill them with tea leaves and seal them with ultrasonic non-marking sealing. The tea bags are then packed into 3-sided or 4-sided sealed outer plastic bags, along with labels and strings

 You can use it to make green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and other herbal teas.

  • Investment: Around $800
  • What it Does: Produce custom tea bags with unique flavors.
  • Potential Business: Start a personalized tea brand, catering to tea enthusiasts seeking distinctive and high-quality tea experiences.

The top business idea is to start a personalized tea brand. You can market your products to a loyal customer base. It can be tea lovers looking for distinctive and high-quality tea experiences. You can also make slimming herbal teas for people looking to lose or maintain their weight.

you will have to source high-quality tea leaves, herbs, and spices from around the world. Blend them to create a unique tea blend. Then, use the Tea Bag Making Machine to package your blends into individual tea bags, ensuring freshness and convenience for your customers.

4. Pottery Wheel Machine

The Pottery Wheel Machine allows you to shape clay into stunning pottery and ceramic pieces.

You can invest in it if you are an experienced potter or a beginner with a passion for art. The machine is used to shape and mold the clay into various forms, such as bowls, vases, and plates.

You can buy an electric or manual pottery machine.

  • Investment: Under $1000
  • What it Does: Helps you create stunning pottery and ceramic pieces.
  • Potential Business: Sell your handmade pottery online, offer pottery classes, or collaborate with local businesses and events for custom creations.

The top business ventures you can start with a pottery wheel machine are;

  1. Online Pottery Shop: Create an online platform to showcase and sell your handmade pottery.
  2. Pottery Classes: Share your pottery expertise by offering online courses, studio classes, and workshops to aspiring potters. It helps you generate income and mentor young potters.
  3. Collaborations: Partner with local businesses, event organizers, and restaurants to create custom-brand pottery pieces.

5. Bubble Tea Cup Machines

A bubble tea maker is a machine used to make bubble tea, a popular Taiwanese drink that contains tea, milk, and chewy tapioca balls called boba.

Bubble tea makers help you to automate the bubble tea-making process. It makes it easy and fast to create a multitude of beverages. You can blend the boba tea mix powders evenly and quickly, and seal the tops of the cups. Bubble tea makers can be used in various settings, including coffee shops, tea shops, and restaurants. 

There is a rising demand for bubble tea cups globally with many bubble tea shops opening in African cities like Nairobi, Lagos, and Accra.

  • Investment: Approximately $800
  • What it Does: Manufactures bubble tea cups.
  • Potential Business: Tap into the global bubble tea craze by supplying bubble tea shops with your unique cups, or start your bubble tea business.

Here are the 2 business ideas you can start with a bubble tea cup machine:

  • Supplier: Use the Bubble Tea Cup Machine to make customized cup designs and sizes, to cater to the specific needs of each client. Approach the local bubble tea shops and beverage businesses to become their preferred bubble tea cup supplier.
  • Bubble Tea Shop: Start your own bubble tea business, complete with personalized cups that reflect your brand’s identity.

6. Portable Tattoo Removal Machine

The Portable Tattoo Removal Machine allows you to offer tattoo removal services.

A tattoo removal machine is a device used to remove tattoos from the skin. The machine works by breaking down the ink particles in the tattoo using laser technology. The laser penetrates the skin and targets the ink particles. The smaller pieces can be absorbed by the body’s immune system

You can offer the services from the comfort of your own space. Besides, it is convenient to visit clients in their homes, Airbnb, or offices.

  • Investment: Varies, depending on the machine model.
  • What it Does: Offers tattoo removal services remotely.
  • Business Ideas: Invest in proper training and certification, and help people with tattoo regret erase their ink.

If you want to help people erase unwanted tattoos, here are a few business ideas you can pursue. You could either set up a standalone tattoo removal business with its own space, offer removal services in an existing tattoo shop, team up with a medical spa or even provide home services where you go to people’s homes to remove tattoos.

7. Key Cutting Machines

Skilled locksmith cutting key with his machine

A key-cutting machine is a device used to cut or duplicate houses, cars, and other types of keys. The service is essential and always in demand. Key-cutting machines can be manual or automatic, and they come in various sizes and shapes.

  • Investment: Under $1000 each
  • What it does: Offers key cutting and duplication services.
  • Business idea: Become a go-to place for key services.

With a key-cutting machine, you can invest in a business to replace lost keys and create spare or duplicate key sets for family members and friends.

8. Laser Engraver Machine

A laser engraver machine is a computer-controlled machine that uses a laser beam to engrave or cut materials. It works by removing material from the surface of the material or cutting through it using a focused laser beam. You can use it on a wide range of materials, like wood, acrylic, plastics, stone, metals, and more. Some advantages of laser engravers include their smooth cuts, fast cutting speed, and high precision.

  • Investment: Under $1000 each
  • What it does: Engraves intricate designs on various materials.
  • Potential Business: Make personalized gifts, promotional items, and artwork.

A laser engraver machine is a powerhouse for personalization business ideas. You can create customized gifts, promotional items, and artwork that resonate with your clients. You can engrave names on jewelry, create intricate designs on wooden plaques, or personalized messages on glassware.

Your business can specialize in clients for occasions like weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays.

9. Vinyl Cutting Machines

A vinyl cutting machine is a computer-controlled cutting machine that uses a blade to cut out designs and letters from adhesive vinyl material. It is used to cut heat transfer vinyl that can be heat applied to fabrics, such as T-shirts or fashion apparel. It can also cut adhesive vinyl and apply it to hard goods such as mugs, tumblers, windows, signs, and more

  • Investment: Under $1000 each
  • What it Does: Creates custom stickers, decals, or apparel.
  • Business Ideas: Dive into the world of customization, producing everything from car decals to T-shirts.

The vinyl cutting machine can help you start a business in customization services. You can create custom stickers and decals for cars, laptops, and home decor. You can also engage in designing unique apparel, such as T-shirts, hoodies, and hats, and you can cater to various markets.

Additionally, consider offering branding and promotional services to local businesses, helping them craft branded merchandise that stands out.

10. Soap Making Machine

3d printing of a vase with multicolored pla filament

A soap-making machine is designed to mix, blend, extrude, and cut soap bars into uniform shapes and sizes. It can make your work easier by automating the process. You can manufacture various soap products, such as bar soap, laundry soap, bath soap, toilet soap, and transparent soap

  • Investment: Varies, but affordable.
  • What it Does: Aids in soap production.
  • Potential Business: Craft artisanal soaps and offer workshops to soap enthusiasts.

There are many business ideas you can start with a soap-making machine on a small or large-scale production. Some of the ideas you can pursue are;

  1. Artisanal Soap Business: Consider offering natural and organic soaps with beneficial ingredients like shea butter, essential oils, and exfoliants. Unique and artistic soap designs are also popular, making them great as gifts or for special occasions.
  2. Soap Workshops: Host soap-making workshops and classes to generate income while sharing your knowledge and passion for soap crafting.
  3. Custom Orders: Create personalized soaps for special events, such as weddings, baby showers, or corporate giveaways. Tailor-made soap bars with unique scents, colors, and designs will always find a market.

11. 3D Printer

 A 3D printer is a device that creates a three-dimensional object from a digital model file. The technology works by adding layer upon layer of material, such as plastic or metal, to build up a complete object. 3D printing is also known as additive manufacturing because it adds material layer by layer to create the final product

  • Investment: Under $1000
  • What it Does: Utilizes 3D printing technology to create various products.
  • Potential Business: Explore the vast opportunities of 3D

There are endless business ideas in 3D printing. You can create prototypes, custom products, intricate artworks, and unique collectibles, offering a wide array of products to your customers. Below are ideas to start with;

  1. Custom Prototypes: Offer rapid and cost-effective prototyping services for inventors and startups.
  2. Personalized Products: Create custom figurines, jewelry, and home décor items.
  3. Medical & Dental Applications: Specialize in custom prosthetics, dental implants, and orthodontic devices.
  4. Art & Sculptures: Design and produce unique art pieces and sculptures.
  5. Custom Merchandise: Produce custom-branded promotional items and collectibles.
  6. Architectural Models: Create detailed and accurate models for architects and developers.
  7. Educational Workshops: Teach 3D printing technology to students and professionals.
  8. Spare Parts & Repairs: Make replacement parts for various products and appliances.
  9. Rapid Prototyping for Businesses: Help businesses bring products to market quickly.
  10. Environmental Initiatives: Use eco-friendly materials for sustainable products like burners.
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