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How to start a business in Kenya

While having a business idea and resources to implement it is considered adequate to have a business running, it is not always the case, particularly in a political environment where government policies inform business startups. Every entrepreneur needs to know the necessities for establishing a business in any market. In Kenya, starting a business is both a business and a legal process. Some of the core requirements to familiarize with include

1) Business/Company Registration

From a legal perspective, there are two approaches to registering a business. First, you can register the business name, particularly if you lack sufficient budget to register a company. If you are in one of the large towns, Huduma Centres are the first stop. You will be required to provide at least three names for the business, each costing roughly 100 Ksh. After five working days, you will have a unique name as the brand name for your business. You will also have an option to register as a sole proprietor or as a partnership. The process ends with the possession of a certificate of registration.

Second, you can register a company if you have a higher budget. Unlike registering a small business, you will need a lawyer to handle the registration process. Once the lawyer is done, you will be provided with a certificate of incorporation and company seal, both at a fee. Finally, you will acquire a Tax PIN certificate.

2) City Council Business Permit

It is one of the most critical legal requirements in the country. The cost of the permit depends on the size of the premise and the industry you are operating in. for instance, a small bakery permit costs approximately 9000 Ksh.

3) Fire Safety Certificate

All businesses in Kenya are required to have a fire safety certificate. In addition, businesses are urged to have at least a fire extinguisher, which leads to certification.


If you are starting a business in the food industry, you will be required to have a food and health-related permit. The Kenyan regulations obligate a health inspector to visit the place of business for certification.

If you are a foreigner and wish to start a business in the country, you will visit the Registrar of Companies. The registrar will issue compliance for foreign companies, certificate of incorporation, and/or certificate of sole proprietorship and partnership. However, a company will first register with National Social Security Fund (NSSF), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Finally, the company will obtain a permit from the County Government.

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