Passive income has for a long time been considered the sole remit of the rich or the sole concern of senior employees imminently about to retire. The truth is , setting up a passive income stream is a worthwhile and prudent decision for anyone regardless of their income level, or level of professional advancement and can reward individuals with added freedom and security.
So what do we mean by passive income streams?
Passive income streams are streams of income which accrue independently of ones physical labour. Taking the example of stocks, once a stock is owned , it generates income -generally every four months (although stock payout schedules may vary and some stocks may not pay out dividends for long periods of time) and this income will rise or fall independently of any amount of effort on the stock holder’s part.
Why would you do it?
The objectives of setting up a passive income stream are two-fold: Firstly, a steady stream of regular diversified income can provide added security- a buffer for unexpected events, and hard times. Secondly, having stable passive income streams can mean greater freedom, flexibility and a better work-life balance. An income less tied to the time you work ultimately means added flexibility.
The rise of the internet , and of technology has created new business opportunities, and innovative ways to earn passive income. We will look at a five ways of making passive income in no particular order.
- Agricultural investments
Hear us out. Africa today has about 70% of the worlds arable land and yet most African countries largely import all their food. A country like Nigeria for instance, spends about $6 Billion worth of its hard-earned foreign currency reserves buying food imports . This situation, replicated in most African countries, presents very unique challenges for developing African economies, but also lucrative opportunities for the savvy investor. In agriculture the barriers to entry are also relatively low and there are opportunities that are available for all types of investors at all investment levels. Whether you want to provide the sweat equity, and invest your time full time to growing the produce yourself, ,whether you are looking for a low involvement method to develop another revenue stream , or whether you are a large fund looking to invest in intensive agriculture spanning hundreds of acres, there are opportunities there for the taking.
The demand is there and there is space for everybody. Recently in Nigeria, the commodities firm Olam set up a farm which produces 50,000 tonnes of Rice on 4500 hectares of land, but that is still a drop in the water when one considers that Nigeria consumes about 5 million tonnes of rice a year. Therefore investors should not be afraid to start small.
To take an example: Cassava is a popular cash crop that is relatively easy to grow. You need to buy land and here it is important to do your research. Certain crops will require certain conditions. Strawberries for instance need dry weather, legumes such as tomatoes or lettuce work best in water rich soils. If you are to buy land then more remote places will probably be more affordable.
Seek out the regional authorities and speak to them about your projects. Listen to what they will propose. Do not necessarily offer to pay for the land yet. In many cases, if you are lucky , it might be possible to negotiate with the local authorities to use the land for free. In many cases , local authorities will be eager to see land used productively and may give you free access to it for a given time.
The usual agreement in these situations is that the farmer will have access to the land and will buy all the inputs, and tools he needs. When the produce is harvested the harvest is split into three with the owner of the land keeping 1/ 3 of the land and farmer keeping 2/3’s.
“Sometimes you will find that the villagers are usually more interested in money than the actual produce and so I often buy the remaining 1/3 off of the Villagers so that I can sell the whole harvest,” says Sammie Buatsi, an Agricultural Investor.
One of the fears many people have with these sorts of investments is that they fear they must constantly be on the grounds to check everything is going well , “not so,” says Sammie Buatsie.
“As long as you are there for the harvest , then your presence is not required all the time. It is just important to have a technician on the team, it can be an outside person who will go there and check that things have been planted correctly and take care of the technical aspects of growing the product. We were lucky enough that we found one at one of the trade fairs who was so impressed with how we worked and the fact we were young people passionate with agriculture that he was willing to help us for free. We just helped him out when we could to thank him for his support. “
Furthermore new technologies and good transport have in many ways reduced the problem.
In many cases, farming can represent a more low involvement than people realise. Hence why it is such a good form of passive income.
And so once the initial investment of land and inputs are factored in, agricultural investments can provide a stable regular income. Depending on the crops, it may take months or years before the crops reach maturity , but once they do, then they will produce fruits with very little help. Taking cassava for instance , cassava takes 6-8 months to mature. Cassava can then be sold for starch. 5 tonnes of cassava will give 1 tonne of starch , now some starch processing factories are willing to pay about $50 about per tonne of Cassava. with opportunities to scale.
Getting started: Intermediate. You will need to travel , prospect potential locations where to start up a farm and find a technician.
Funds required: Low- High.
Effort to maintain income stream: low.
- Hire purchase agreements:
The arrangement is simple. You purchase a piece of equipment or a vehicle then rent it out. The hiree will pay you in installements which will include both a portion of money going towards the cost of the equipment and will also include interest. Once they have finished paying off the amount stipulated in the contract the equipment becomes theirs. This arrangement could be done with Taxis. Private individuals can buy a taxi and then rent them out to taxi drivers, who will use the taxi and will then pay the owner back in installments over a period of time ,defined in a contract, after which they become owners of the car. Motorcycles are more inexpensive option as the motorcycles can be rented out to ‘Okada’ who then pay weekly or monthly. The arrangement creates a steady income and low involvement.
Hire purchase can be a low hassle , way of creating a regular stream of passive income. For about 2,000 dollars you can get a second hand 16 seater bus. You can then hire it out to drivers you will have selected.
“generally you will agree on a sum of money you want them to bring in everyday say about 20 dollars. Any money they make above that is theirs to keep. The driver buys the petrol. They get the bus from Morning to about 6 pm. You can let it go on until midnight.If you want, more money you can tell them to get continue until midnight , however in order to avoid issues you tell them to bring you the money by 6pm,” says Falmbi Gama, 35, an entrepreneur and business owner.
Like in all such arrangements finding people who are trustworthy is key.
“Usually you will only deal with people you trust and even then , you have them sign a contract preferably at a police station and you will usually ask for proof of address and a guarantor,” says Mr. Gama.
Getting started: Pretty easy. You only need to buying the equipment you want to hire out and then find people to rent the equipment.
Funds required: intermediate. You will need about $2,000 to get started.
Effort to maintain income stream: low.
- Self publish an Ebook:
Have an idea for a best seller? This will enable you to get earn money through royalties. Royalties is a fraction of the revenue of each individual unit of the product sold which you get. The periodicity of the royalties will vary ( if you publish an ebook on amazon for instance the money will come every six months), however even when you are asleep , the money will come rolling in. Do note that revenue sharing will differ from ebook platform to ebook platform. On amazon for instance, provided you you’re your books to audiences in the UK, US and a select number of countries you will be able to earn 70% of the revenue on every book sold.
Writing a book will take lot of your time (and a fair amount of skill). Once it is done however, it can earn you income, all through its print run -if you are publishing it the conventional way- or for a very long time if you choose to self-publish.
Amanda Hockings, an American author of paranormal fiction sold a million copies of her self published ebooks in the space of a year. On her blog she detailed how she went from earning barely minimum wages, and little formal education to selling millions of books over the course of a year. She published nine books from march 2010 to January 2011 (many books she had written before 2010).
Maintaining this passive revenue streams can require a lot of money and time. Firstly the books have to be exceptionally good and unique. There are hundreds of thousands of ebooks published every year. In order to stand out , books have to be innovative, well written and well marketed. How much you will ultimately earn in passive income from your books will largely depend on three things: the quality of the books, the quality of the book’s cover and the marketing operation you have running. The more you market your book ,the more sales you will have.
Getting started: Hard
Funds required: low to intermediate
Effort to maintain income stream: high
- Develop an app:
Apps are another way of making passive income. You design your app and then upload it on Playstore (if it is an android app) or Apple Appstore if it is an IOS app. How you are remunerated will depend on your revenue model. Some apps you pay to download and in such case the creator of the app will be paid everytime someone downloads their game. If however you decide to make your game free and use a freemium model , where downloading the app is free , but customers can then buy in-game add-ons or mods in order to progress in the game, then you will be paid as these purchases are made.
Making an app will require quite a lot of coding skills and time- if you decide to do it yourself- or quite a bit of money if you decide to pay someone to do it (on average anywhere from 1-6,000 dollars) . You will also have to pay a one time $25 fee to have your app listed on google play store or $99 a year to have it available on the Appstore . Once the app is on either of these two platforms however you will be making money, you will be making money.
Making a successful app is not easy. There are about 2.4 million apps on the store and in order to differentiate yourself with the applications you will need to come up with something truly original. But for those who are able to do that then developing an app can be an extremely lucrative affair.
Take vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen , the creator of Flappy bird. He created the game coding for a few hours each day when he came back to work. At its peak the app was downloaded 50 million times , and brought in on average 50,000 through in app adverts.
A bit of marketing will be necessary and will enhance your revenue as there are a lot of apps out there and a bit of marketing will be necessary to distinguish your offering from the pile.
Getting started: High. Good coding skills are required.
Funds required: low to Intermediate depending on whether you will do the coding yourself. If you need to pay someone to code the app you may have to part with $1000 or more depending on the complexity of the app you wish to create
Effort to maintain income stream: High
- Sell WordPress Templates.
Another interesting source of passive income are wordpress templates. Wordpress templates are ready made, site designs which website developers, bloggers or companies can buy and use.
You can then upload the theme to a site which sells wordpress themed and website designs like www.themeforest.net
WordPress themes can sell for about $59. Some of the most downloaded themes can be bought 10,000 times.
It will require some level of skill at adobe photoshop , and some skill at coding , unless you pay someone to do the coding for you. Some marketing will have to be done , amongst design specialists and specialist websites in order to create awareness around your designs.
Getting started: Low. Basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop will be useful.
Funds required: Low
Effort to maintain income stream: Low
- Invest in start ups as a silent business partner
This involves buying into a company or business by buying equity. As a silent business partner , you do not take any decisions or have a say in the day to day running of the company. Such silent business partners may be family members , or business partners. Usually they will recoup their investment in installments and in addition to this they will have a share of the company’s annual profits in proportion to the amount they have invested in the company’s stock capital. Additionally, their liabilities only extend as far as their investment. Being a silent partner is not a decision to be taken lightly and you should thoroughly vet the companies you are thinking of investing in.
Getting started: Intermediate
Funds required: Intermediate to High
Effort to maintain income stream: Low
In his seminal book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” Robert Kiyosaki makes an interesting distinction between wealth and being rich.
For him, someone who is rich is someone who has accumulated assets through debt or using his income . Someone who is wealthy, on the other hand, accumulates income generating assets first and based on the income generated by those assets acquires more assets.
To highlight this crucial difference let’s use an analogy. According to In an analogy someone who is rich and who wants to buy a car will take up out a car loan or perhaps will use his income to buy a car. Someone who is wealthy however not buy a house using his income. A wealthy individual will buy it using the income generated from one of his assets, (stocks, rental properties or royalties). According to Kiyosaki only then , when we are able to fund our lifestyle using income generated from our investments are we truly wealthy. A wealthy person will buy assets using his passive streams of income .
For too long passive income has been seen as a collateral benefit to immense wealth, or a strategy to soften the blow of retirement. But setting up one or more passive income streams, is ,more than ever, a worthwhile endeavour which can to provide added security , greater freedom and additional income. Investors , entrepreneurs or employees should look tto set up passive income streams to effectively start the transition from being rich to being wealthy.