For less than $500 he surely can get a decent laptop. Then he can invest the remaining money in building and hosting a website to sell his services.
We see a lot of spam here for virtual assistants. That's just one of the ideas, of course, depending on what he's good in. Freelance programming or translation services are common alternatives.
My brother wants to start a business with startup costs of $500 or less. Is there any suggestion to start a small online business? Any suggestions will be appreciated.