The BIK Guide to Doing Business in Kenya is a resource on investment in Kenya. The Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) Steering Committee commissioned this guide, financing the project with funding from the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support and Africa Strategy Fund.

This guide presents, in an accessible format, key information about the general economic and business context in Kenya. It also includes an overview of business and investment opportunities in some of the key sectors of the Kenyan economy. It details much of the practical information necessary to a business, including legal frameworks, the taxation system, the availability of key skills and regulation of labour, and immigration requirements.

This Guide has been designed as a general source of key information for interested investors. It includes references where readers can find more information on specific topics. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in the text, the BIK Steering Committee cannot bear any responsibility for errors or omissions in this publication.

1. Introduction

Business Ireland Kenya (BIK) works to increase trade between Kenya and Ireland by linking Irish investors and firms with the networks, service providers, and potential business partners they need to thrive in Kenya’s exciting and fast-growing market. It provides quick connections to entities that promote business between the two countries, including the Embassy of Ireland in Kenya, Enterprise Ireland, the Kenya Irish Society, civil society, and faith-based organisations. Read More

2. About Kenya

Kenya is East Africa’s largest and most diversified economy, and Sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth largest. Its strategic location and well-developed business infrastructure make it a natural choice for investors, and it is the regional hub for businesses and organisations operating deep into Eastern and Central Africa’s hinterland. It is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. Read More

3. Economic Performance

Kenya has a strong and steady economic growth rate, a strategic location, a well established private sector, and a growing middle-income population. Its well-educated workforce is ranked one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of quality. It has significant agricultural resources, and generates leading technological innovations for developing markets. Read More

4. Kenya’s Economic Sectors

This analysis examines the six sectors that contribute most to the Kenyan economy. It is not an exhaustive list, and opportunities exist in other areas of investment. Read More

5. Business Registration in Kenya

The Registrar of Companies is responsible for registering businesses in Kenya. The process, which now takes between three and six weeks, is relatively straightforward, especially given the recent introduction of a company name search facility on the government’s online portal, www.ecitizen.go.ke. Read More

6. Labour in Kenya

Three-quarters of Kenya’s labour force of 18 million people earn their living from agriculture, including from subsistence farming and livestock herding, although accelerating urbanisation will have an impact on that figure. In total, 12.6 million Kenyans worked in the so-called ‘informal sector’ in 2015, a number that rose 6 per cent from the year before. Unemployment is calculated at 40 per cent, with 70 per cent of those aged under 35. Read More

7. Taxation in Kenya

The Kenyan tax system has various taxes both direct and indirect including Income Tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), and customs and excise duties, which are all collected by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). Read More

8. Immigration Processes

Most foreigners need a visa to visit Kenya. Business visas must be arranged at the nearest Kenyan embassy or High Commission before travelling to Kenya. Tourist visas, which bar any work or commercial activity, can be issued on arrival at major Kenyan airports and borders. Visas for children aged under 16 are free. An online application system, e-Visa, is available to arrange visa approval before travelling, but it is not mandatory. Read More

9. Real Estate Development in Kenya

Foreigners may own land and property in Kenya, on a leasehold basis with maximum 99-year leases that are transferable, and can be extended on application when they lapse. Foreign companies may also buy land and property, but again on leasehold basis only. A company is considered foreign owned if even one of its owners is not Kenyan. Farmland can only be sold to Kenyans, although foreigners or foreign companies may then rent that land for an agreed period. Read More

10. Living in Kenya

Kenya is a wonderful country for children, with a long-list of activities to occupy and enthral younger people. In Nairobi, they can feed giraffes at the Giraffe Centre or pet and ‘adopt’ orphaned baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. The Nairobi Railway Museum is a favourite destination for local school students on field trips. Alongside a wide range of shops and boutiques, Nairobi’s ubiquitous modern malls also boast family-friendly cafés, playgrounds, bowling centres, miniature golf ranges, and movie theatres. Read More 

Tips To Consider when Setting Up a Business in Kenya

A collection of pertinent pieces of wisdom for those conducting business in Kenya. Read More

Useful Contacts

A directory of useful contacts for conducting business in Kenya. Read More

An Indicative Outline of the Importation of Goods Process in Kenya

Importation of goods into Kenya is an elaborate process that entails various documentation and procedures. Read More