If you want to start a small business in Kenya legally and you’re not sure how to get about acquiring the required permits, here are some tips on how to get started.
The first thing I did before I started a small bakery was to go online to the Nairobi Business Licensing website and find out the kind of permits required to run a bakery legally. Another thing I did was to go to our local City Council offices and talk to the officers to explain the necessary documents and how to go about getting them. So I would advice to make sure you speak to the City Council officers in the area you will be conducting business.
Another website you should visit to research is the KRA website. It will give you details on how V.A.T. taxes are charged and should be paid. You should also get advice from a lawyer about tax requirements if you are registering a company.
Today I will just state a few legal requirements to get started but make sure you do your research on your particular industry.
1.) Business Name or Company Registration.
There are two ways you can register your business; you can start by registering your business name, this is ideal if you have a small budget and cannot be able to register a company yet. It’s a simple process, go online to the E-Citizen portal, sign up and create a user I.D. and from there you should be able to go to the E-Business portal and do a name search ( you check different name options for your business, one at a time) it’s Kshs. 150 per name, this takes at least one day. After the check; the name is held for you for 30 days; this gives you a chance to register the name of your choice and it usually takes at least 5 days and costs Kshs. 850. You can register individually, as a sole-proprietor or if you are 2 or more people, as a partnership. After you’re done, you get a certificate of registration for your business, this is emailed to you and you can print it. This means that nobody will be legally able to use your business name.
Another way would be to register a Company, if you have a higher budget of about Kshs. 25,000 to 45,000. This process is done by a certified lawyer. Choose a good reliable lawyer to handle the matter for you and it should be done in about 2 weeks. After the lawyer is done, you should have a certificate of incorporation, and for an extra fee (about Kshs.2500) you get a company seal. The lawyer can also assist you in getting a Tax PIN certificate for your business.
2.) City Council Business Permit.
For you to conduct business, you also need an annual business permit from the City Council. The details on the cost depend on the size of your premises and the industry you have chosen to do business in. For example, a regular sized bakery City Council permit costs Kshs. 8000 per year. Talk to your local City Council officers on the cost and they may visit your premise to confirm the size of the location and they will advice on how to pay. You will get a receipt when you pay, and then the certificate itself after about a week. You can also visit their website for more information at http://www.nairobi.go.ke. This process has also been made more convenient; you can still choose to use the E-Business portal to get a permit. Be aware that you now have to get a Unified Business permit; this includes annual business permit, signage payment/certifcation and Fire License. If your business industry requires it; you will also have the Health License included as well. Click here to find out how to get the Unified Business Permit
3.) Food/ Health Related Permits.
If you are in an industry that requires health certification such as food, bakery, beverage, salon etc. You will require a Health Inspector to visit your place of business and after they have inspected your location, you will be certified. When you pay you receive a receipt and about a week later you get a certificate. Please note that starting 2017 – this is included in your Unified Business permit.
4.) Fire Safety Certificate
Currently, all businesses are required to be Fire safety certified. This requires you to have at least a fire extinguisher and any other fire safety requirements a Fire safety inspector will advice you on, based on your business. After the inspection, you will be certified and get a Fire Safety Certificate. This certificate is also now to be included in your Unified Business Permit.
I hope that this will help you at least get started with your business, make sure you do research in your industry to get the right information to get you legally started.
If you have any questions, suggestions or any comments to add, please feel free. Thanks ^_^