Importation is the act, business, process of importing goods or services from a foreign country and here is how to start an importation business.

How the importation business works:

Importation business mostly involves buying and selling and the bottom line is to always make money. You buy something like wrist-watches, phones, necklaces etc. at a low price with the aim of selling at a higher price to make considerable profit.

Usually there are two options involved to increase your profit namely you can either find a way/place to buy your items at a cheaper price or look for customers to buy at higher price. In summary, buy low, sell high.

Change your mentality on importation as follows:

  1. Importation do not involve huge paperwork which could be a nightmare.
  1. You do not require a huge amount of money to start importation as you can start with small money.
  1. You don’t have to go to Asia, United States of America or China in person as it’s easier to import online and even cheaper as well.
  1. Imported goods are not craps or cheap Chinese junks. China supply items to the United States of America and it is whatever you want them to produce for you that they’ll do.

What you need to get started:

To join the ever-growing population of men and women who deals with the business of importation, you will need the following

  1. A computer or mobile phone with constant access to the internet.
  1. Valid e-mail address
  1. Valid residential/home address so that the items you requested can be shipped to you.
  1. Small capital

Here are some importation tips for you, you might possibly need them:

Start small, involves smaller risks.

Work out the logistics through the small shipments

Build a relationship with a clearing and forwarding agent.

Learn the regulations and also ask some questions

You would be held accountable for the actions of your clearing and forwarding agent as well.


Before you get started on shopping/ordering your products, provide answers to the following questions.

  1.  Where to buy from?

You must find out which sites sell products at low wholesale prices so you can benefit from it. Sites such as,, etc. To start shopping and placing you orders on any of the aforementioned sites, you need to sign up to become a registered member. To sign up/register is not a big deal at all, all you need to do is click on the ‘Join free’ or ‘Register’ link at the top left/right corner of the home page, you will be transferred to a registration page to complete a short form.

The short form requires only your name, valid e-mail address and password. In the alternative, you can sign up using your facebook account. Afterwards, you can start making your orders.

  1. Payment

Formerly it was almost impossible to import from manufacturers/suppliers abroad due to the long and complex payment process involving a Letter of Credit or Bank Guarantee from the bank.

That Era is however out of the way now, presently you can do a simple bank transfer or use your debit/credit card meaning you can employ the use of your regular ATMs to pay for the goods you have ordered.

  1. Getting Scammed?

Make sure all the sites you deal with have some form of ‘buyer protection’ mechanism built into the payment process similar to ‘escrow’ in international trade business. The way it works is easy, instead of paying the seller directly, the sites withhold your payment until you have confirmed the products you ordered are not fake/damaged.

  1. Finding quality products and Sellers

African businesses are susceptible to low quality products due to the lack of strict quality and safety standards like the ones buyers in Europe and America enjoy thus the need to find quality products.

Feedback ratings can help you gauge sellers’ reputations on the various shopping sites. If the seller always deliver as promised, he/she will get positive feedbacks from customers but if reverse is the case, customers will be happy to pass their negative comments.

  1.  How will the products get to you?

Some products on some shopping sites come with free shipping option to many countries worldwide delivered through China Mail air Post or Hong Kong Mail Services. The only issue it takes a very long time, usually 15-60 days, before you get your shipment dependent on the product and location.

Other shipping options include agents like DHL, FedEx, EMS etc. though they are more expensive options to take on.

  1. Most popular and Hot-selling products?

Shopping sites have most of the popular/hot-selling products you can think of from clothing accessories (men and women), consumer electronics (like cameras and gadgets) and mobile phone accessories (headphones, chargers, batteries etc). Hair extensions are also very popular therefore it all depends on what you want to order for from the sites.

  1. Finding buyers

A shop for the goods you have imported is the oldest/traditional and most common way of finding buyers.

This has however been made simpler by the advent of Internet as you can advertise your products to those that you know and don’t know via the various social media portals such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter etc.

  1. Finance

You will require small capital to startup obviously but the good thing is that most of the products on these sites are sold at very low prices. The more units of a product you buy, the less you pay, a huge benefit of buying wholesale. In summary, it is advisable to start with products that cost little and are of high demand in your area/country.

In conclusion, with the answers provided above, venturing into the importation business would be an easier path to tread albeit on a small scale for a start. Now that you know how to start an importation business, what are you waiting for?………

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