salaula business in zambia

Do you love fashion and the environment? Start a Salaula business in Zambia with a small capital and make over 100% profit! Almost every time I’ve seen questions on public platforms about ideas for a great business to start with little capital in Zambia; Salaula, also known as a thrift business, almost always tops the list.

What is Salaula/Thrift? 

Salaula comes from the bemba word “Ukusalaula” which means to choose amongst a wide range of choices. According to Trvst, selling thrift is the act of selling well-used items at discounted prices. Thrifted items have been loved by a previous owner, but are usually in good shape with enough life left to be useful to a new owner.

In this post, we will explore salaula, and I will share tips on how to be successful in this business. With dedication, discipline, and diligence, you can sell more than five bales of salaula and cash out a 100% profit every single time! 

How much do you need to start a salaula in Zambia? 

The truth is, you don’t need much to start a thrift business, you can start from as low as K10 to as high as K10,000 depending on your budget and market size! No amount is too small for this business.

In my opinion, the Salaula business has three different tiers of trade, especially if you are dealing with imported bales; 

  • Buying whole bales which is considered wholesale. 
  • The second is called “Vokola” which is a Nyanja word that means to scrape. It is specifically designed for people who want to sell salaula but can’t afford to get a full bale so they just pick specific items from an already open bale.
  • The last one is simply going to salaula markets and picking out items that are cheap and reselling them at a higher price to people who have no time and patience to do it themselves.  

I’m sure by now you have decided which tier best suits your budget and marketing capabilities. 

If you have the money, you can rent a store in a busy area, sell clothes from the boot of your car, or a small makeshift stand at salaula hotspots like colleges, hospitals, and restaurants or, you could just sell your clothes online and avoid rent, storage, and fuel fees! 

P.S. Furthermore, If you choose to rent a shop, then you have to consider additional costs such as trading licenses, clothes shelves, a table, hang wires, dressing rooms, mirrors, etc. 

Profitability in Salaula 

Salaula can be very profitable if done right. Some bales, depending on the type of material and texture contain 350-400 pieces. Thrift business owners usually separate the pieces of clothing starting with the best ones to the least good ones and sell them at different prices. 

Let’s do some math, if you sold each piece at least K50, all things being equal, multiply that amount by the number of pieces and subtract your expenses; the result is your profit and is proof of how profitable salaula is. 

Some Considerations in the Salaula Business 


Always go for quality over quantity! The cheaper the bale, the more likely it is that you may make a loss. Remember, no amount of marketing can help a bad product, ever. From my conversations with salaula business owners, it is always best to stick to UK A Grade Bales. 

P.S. If you ever get a bad bale, make sure to sell your items at super-discounted rates to get your investment back.


It is always important to buy items that are in season or pre-season to ensure your market needs what you are selling. Some items have no season and are easily marketable such as; chiffon/cotton shirts for kids, children’s mix, jeans, men’s cotton shirts, and so on.

However, after speaking to a few salaula traders; children’s clothes, ladies’ tops, and underwear tends to have a faster turnaround. 

Consider your area as well, and the people who live in that area. What do they do? Are they corporates, farmers, or business people? Are they modest and reserved or are they flashy and fashion forward? Always put your customer and their needs first. Learn more about how to effectively analyze your customers here.


Always segment your prices, your best clothes should be sold at a higher price than the others. This will ensure you are actually making a huge profit. Many starting salaula businesses make the mistake of underpricing all their items to sell more, but this would mean all your good clothes finish before you can make substantial profit.

That is pretty much all you need to know about starting a salaula business! Please feel free to visit this page to learn more about Salaula.

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