#HerDiary: What I had to go through just to get a business license in Nairobi

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Hello, I’m Florence Kamaitha and this is my business diary. I will be sharing with you my experience of being a woman entrepreneur in Kenya.

Last week I shared the the things I considered when it came to deciding on the product. I settled on food ingredients that would make it easier for the modern man or woman to fix a quick meal without going through chopping and grinding ingredients.

Watch out for the products soon. You can read about that here. After, I had to get a business license in Nairobi.

Trouble of getting business license in Nairobi

I started by researching what was needed of me to get a product on the shelves of supermarkets. This is what I found out. There are tonnes of licenses to be paid for, even if you have just the one employee in your company.

First you will need a business permit from the County of Nairobi. If you want to get into agro-processing, with at least three employees, you will need to pay at least ksh 25,000 for a business permit. This is paid annually.

Health certificate

I was advised to get a health certificate from a County Officer. I paid Ksh 10,000 for it. When I went to pick my certificate, I was informed that I needed a Food and Hygiene certificate first. Later on is when I discovered that I was misled and just lost my 10k.

I will follow up to see if they can give me a credit note for next year, ha ha! But knowing this County, I highly doubt.

Food and Hygiene certificate

This is issued to every company that handles food. I paid  Ksh 7,000 for the certificate. I then had to wait for an officer to come inspect my premises. I had to wait for 4 hours on the day she was arriving but at least she approved the license.

KEBS certificate

One good thing KEBS has done for the headache of getting a business license in Nairobi is have a package for SMEs. For Ksh 5,800, you can test at least 4 products. They also give you three chances to test your products with this same amount.

They needed me to buy two books for the code of hygiene and labeling, both Ksh 5130.

Once you fill their application, it takes them three weeks to come for inspection. I applied on 15th December and by 15th January they had not even called . So I went back to follow up and was handed another two-week waiting time. When the inspection date got here, she kept me waitng for 3 hours, then she finally called and asked me to drop the products at her office.

So much for their three weeks promise. Read this List of KEBS requirements for starting a food business  to have an idea.

Medical Certificates

You have to get a medical certificate at Ksh 1,000 per employee. The most annoying thing is that there are only two labs in Nairobi that can do the test. TWO!

One is at River Road, behind School Outfitters, and the other is near Railways, around Technical University of Kenya. I have not gone for mine yet. My question is, why only two labs to serve the whole of Nairobi?

 

There is also a fee for Fire engine of Ksh 4,800. You also need to have fire extinguishers at your premises as they also inspect this. I think they forgot to add this to my list of licenses.

Pro Tip!

Getting a business license in Nairobi is a long process. There’s a lot of back and forth between the offices, there’s making payment at Cooperative Bank and enduring long lines to submit bank slips. If you want any certificate from the Nairobi County, go early.

Make photocopies of all your receipts and certificates because each office asks for like two receipts

Next week, I’ll discuss things branding, marketing and give you an update on my products. Keep it here 🙂

Kamaitha will be sharing with you #HerDiary every week! If you just can’t wait that long, you can follow her on Twitter @Kamaitha

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About Author

I am an entrepreneur learning to write about my journey. I enjoy golf, watching F1, cooking and neo soul music. Let's make entrepreneurship a fun topic to talk about.