I was talking to someone recently on how that this time last year there was a serious shortage of ice in Harare and surrounding areas. It seems it was not just Harare alone, even here in Masvingo. Another buddy of mine was remarking on the same; he actually said around the festive season ice tends to be scarce nowadays. This presents an amazing opportunity to start a business where you sell ice. The uses for it are numerous especially for those looking to keep their food and drink items chilled for outdoor fun activities. That is why I have decided to write an article explaining how you can start an ice selling business. You can also find this type of business being called an ice vending business.


The ice selling business is quite straightforward – not that sophisticated at all. It basically takes you freezing water and selling, just that. However, there are some few ways in which you can come up with the ice you want to sell. I can mention 5 of some of how you can sell your ice. You can sell it as cubes, flakes, crushed ice, dry ice, and ice packs. What you choose to settle for will largely depend on what you can afford or have access to.

For instance, the easiest approach is to look for transparent polythene plastic bags. You then fill them with water, seal them (mechanically or manually) then get them frozen. You see, it is that simple. In essence, the easiest approach is to sell dry ice. This means the only key issue will be how you will freeze the water but there are some things to consider; I will discuss them as we move along.

Key Requirements

Two key requirements pertain to freezing and packaging. At the most elementary level, you can simply use your freezer at home to do this business. That does have limitations especially since your freezer will also be for keeping other things. This means the water might not get frozen as quickly as would be convenient. The best thing to do would be to buy an ice block machine(s). Their working mechanism does not really differ much from what a normal freezer does.

The major difference is that an ice block machine freezes water much faster than ordinary freezer units. Ice block or ice vending machines vary in terms of capacity, type, and working mechanism. You can find one from as low as US$200 but you can find some that cost as much as US$20000 or more. This cost can always be evaded though especially if you have good ordinary freezer units.

Then we have the packaging material – simple transparent polythene plastic bags can do the trick. You might not even need to brand them though of course branding can set you apart from others. The other important thing will be electricity; you must have a reliable power framework so that you are never inconvenienced enough to fail to have ice sometimes. It could help to have solar power backup or a backup generator to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

Human Capital

This is not a labour-intensive business at all. Consider if you start it at home; you might not even need to hire anyone – just you and your family can run this business. Hiring only becomes necessary if you are operating on a bigger scale. This is a great thing about this business because it keeps operating costs very low.

Financial Capital

If you are looking to buy an ice vending machine that would be your most significant startup cost. If you are simply going to use freezer units you already have then there really is not much to worry about in terms of capital. You would need capital for packaging material and probably branding it. These are costs that are not that uphill especially when your operating capacity is still small.


The market is quite big but segmented at the same time. Niching always tends to help when doing any business. For example, you can choose to target shops, supermarkets, butcheries, bars, or individuals, just to mention a few.

Important Things To Consider

You must appreciate the fact that this type of business is simple and many people can start it. When the scenario is like this it means you must distinguish yourself in your branding, your supply, cold, and distribution chain. If you tweak those areas, it is from there where you will separate yourself from the competition.

Utmost hygiene must never be overlooked. The water you use must be fresh and clean. If it is not it will be very noticeable in the frozen water i.e. dirt particles will be visible. If you can it would be great to take the water through some purification process.

This is a great business idea to start; you can even start it right now and make money this festive season. There are many reasons why ice is usually sought after. Some of them are hot weather, most people not having access to electricity or even cold storage equipment. Once again let me urge you to explore this business idea starting right now, you will be amazed.