Business Ideas and Opportunities in Kenya

Kenya’s  micro, small and medium business are the base of entrepreneurial development in Kenya and the ’seed bed’ for inculcating an entrepreneurial culture and supporting rural industrialisation.

Business in Kenya

A lot has been done to improve the business environment for small businesses. In 2009, records at the Companies Registry were digitised. Small businesses will now be able to apply and pay for licenses online, including by mobile phone payments.

The Kenya Government has also reduced the time required to start a business and halved time to pay taxes and statutory contributions, It has licensed micro-finance banks and allowed agency banking.

ln the 2010-2011 Budget, a Sh3.8 billion($47.5 million) fund was set up through which the Government will enter credit facility agreements with some banks to support Small and micro-enterprises. From the kitty, Sh3 billion ($37.5 million) will be advanced to banks and financial institutions to lend to SMEs and Sh800 million ($10 million) will be for agencies capacity building and training of beneficiaries.

The banks are expected to match Sh5 ($0.0625) for each Sh 1 ($0.0125) invested by the Government, boosting the kitty live—fold to Sh15 billion ($187.5 million).

The programme targets 12 million Kenyans using the mobile money transfer platform and eventually cover the close to 20 million Kenyans who own mobile phones. This is expected to create 100,000 jobs for young people. To encourage the development of innovative industries for sustaining the country’s competitive advantage, the following must be done:

  1. Identification of sites for industrial parks and special economic zones
  2.  Development of industrial parks, special economic zones and industrial clusters
  3.  Facilitation of the simplification and decentralisation of the registration, licensing and taxation regimes
  4.  Facilitation and coordination of development and implementation of programmes and initiatives for business incubation and start-ups
  5. Creation of new incentives for rural industrialisation.

The Kenya Vision 2030 blueprint recognises the crucial role of micro, small and medium business  in industrial development and emphasises the development of industrial parks in five towns – Kisumu, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru and Nairobi – to spur industrial growth. It also proposes the development of two special economic zones in Kisumu and Mombasa.

Assistance to Micro and Small Enterprises Programme (ASMEP) is a Government initiative to support micro and small enterprises. The European Commission (EC) is funding it and it took effect on September 26, 2007. lt will be implemented over a five-year period. The Ministry of Trade is the principal ASMEP host institution, and acts on behalf of the National Authorising officer in managing and supervising the programme. ASMEP supports the development 0f micro and small enterprises through capacity building of business associations and other non – State actors that promote and develop MSEs, business development service providers and micro-institutions.

It also disseminates business information through business information centres or other initiatives and support agro-processing, packaging and value addition, especially in horticulture and fisheries .

Business Opportunities in Kenya

Here is a list of the business ideas that you can invest in Kenya:

  1. Health Sector in Kenya
  2. Land Sector in Kenya
  3. Cooperative Development in Kenya
  4. Regional Development Projects in Kenya
  5. Building and Construction in Kenya
  6. Environment and Mineral Sector
  7. Education Sector in Kenya
  8. Water and Irrigation Sector in Kenya
  9. Trade Sector in Kenya
  10. Fisheries Sector in Kenya
  11. Livestock Sector in Kenya
  12. Agricultural Sector in Kenya
  13. Nairobi Development
  14. Transport and Infrastructure Sector in Kenya
  15. National Heritage and Culture Sector in Kenya
  16. Tourism Sector in Kenya
  17. Manufacturing Sector in Kenya
  18. ICT sector in Kenya
  19. Privatization Commission in Kenya

Business Funding in Kenya

One of the biggest challenge of starting or expanding a business is funding. Kenyans have very good business but connection to funding is lacking. Here is a list of organization and venture capitalists in Kenya that might inject the much needed capital into your startup/idea/business;

  1. Enablis, can be found on enablis.org
  2. Seedcapitalinvestment, found on Seedcapitalinvestment.com
  3. Ventureworthy is an international fund
  4. Fanisi venture capital fund
  5. Africa Media Venture Fund
  6. eVA Fund
  7. open capital Fund
  8. Grofin

 Business etiquette in Kenya

Working in Kenya provides you with the opportunity to participate in East Africa’s “economic growth engine” – and with the challenges of moving to a developing country. Our introduction to working in Kenya presents its economy, social security issues, cost of living, and etiquette tips for expats.

When you begin to work in Kenya, you should know a bit about local etiquette. Of course, a few tips on polite behavior cannot replace thorough intercultural training. But as everywhere on the globe, a little “thank you” and a friendly smile go a long way in Kenya. To make things run smoothly with your Kenyan colleagues and business contacts, here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind.

First Impressions

As you meet someone for the first time, take the time to greet everyone in a larger group individually, with the most senior person coming first. If you don’t shake hands with everybody, this could be perceived as stand-offish or rude. Men shaking hands often make sure that this greeting is extra firm and prolonged, while greetings between men and women are often more careful and reserved.

If you know some Kiswahili, this often serves as an ice-breaker. Jambo or hujambo is a generic hello, and the reply to “Habari gani?” (“How are you?”) should always be, “nzuri” (“fine”). Address all people with their full name or title at first. As soon as you know them better and the atmosphere becomes more informal, you may switch to a first-name basis. Failing to wait for such tacit permission, though, might come across as disrespectful or condescending.

Small Talk: Dos and Don’ts

Don’t be impatient if nobody jumps straight into business matters. Especially if you are new around here, small talk is expected. Enquire after your co-workers’ or business contacts’ families, their kids, their hometown, and be prepared to talk about your own relatives and home country.

However, you should avoid discussing Kenya’s ethnicities (particularly since the inter-ethnic tensions after the 2007 elections, this can be a sensitive topic). And don’t criticize Kenya or talk politics: if you are a mzungu (a white foreigner), this will probably dredge up unpleasant reminiscences of the colonial era.

“Kenyan” Time?

No matter what you have heard about “Kenyan time”, try to be punctual for appointments and business meetings. In the urban business world, particularly in the private sector, being punctual is more and more appreciated. (In government offices and in the countryside, this may still be different.) In any case, you as an expatriate may be expected to be a stickler for punctuality – so don’t be late. In the workplace, it’s important to reserve some time for relationship-building and, for example, invite your colleagues to dinner in order to get to know them better.

Relations and Gender in the Workplace

While office hierarchies in Kenya are often vertical, with clearly defined top-down decision-making, the general atmosphere is very cordial. People are generally friendly, and maintaining smooth relationships via networking is of great importance. Education, professional experience, and expertise are highly valued, and you should also treat your elders – i.e. management or senior staff members – with due respect.

In Kenyan etiquette, it’s essential to remain mild-mannered and polite, and to avoid solving conflicts or airing dirty laundry in public. Raising your voice and losing your temper in an office environment will only lead to people losing respect for you. If you run into trouble with a co-worker, for instance, try to address your issues discreetly and indirectly, e.g. in a personal conversation over a shared meal.

Co-workers can be fairly close, a sort of “office family”. At times, they even collect harambee to help someone out. A harambee fund is supposed to support a relative or friend in need. Harambee can be roughly translated as “let’s all work together” and is Kenya’s national motto. While expensive business gifts are unusual, you shouldn’t hesitate to chip in with some harambee money. However, better try to stay out of issues like demands for preferential treatment or reciprocal benefits unless you know the working environment very well.

As far as gender is concerned, gender roles in Nairobi’s business world are far less rigid than in rural Kenya. Lots of Kenyan businesswomen make their way with astuteness, determination, and plenty of hard work. However, some older Kenyan men may still have difficulties accepting instructions from female managers or supervisors. If you are an expat women working in Kenya, you should take such aspects into account.

About the Author

Hello, I'm Josphat Gachie, a digital media consultant and the founder / CEO of Softkenya.com. We provide affordable website design and online marketing solutions to small businesses. If you have a limited budget and need a website or a way to advertise your business / product you are at the right place. CALL ME ON 0720573178 or Email me at info@softkenya.com or Visit our website at http://softkenya.com/solutions/