Your guide to doing business in Kenya
Situated on the western shores of the Indian Ocean, and sharing land borders with Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania, Kenya has become one of East Africa’s most prominent economies, with a GDP of around $70.53 billion, and a growth rate of 5.8% in 2016. Built on a traditionally strong agricultural sector, and having developed rapidly in the 21st century, Kenya’s economy is now the largest in the East and Central Africa region, with a range of high performance industries including tourism, telecommunications, energy, mining, and oil exploration. Driven by numerous government reforms, Kenya’s business landscape is changing positively and positioning to become more attractive to foreign investment, especially in terms of starting small or medium-sized businesses. A continental gateway, Kenya is a thriving hub for regional and international investment interests - and organisations wishing to set up in the country may find a range of business support services, including global payroll providers, to help with the process. Kenya’s global reach is also growing: the country is a member-state of the EAC, the Commonwealth of Nations, and has close relations with its neighbours around the African Great Lakes. In 2017, the World Bank ranked Kenya 92 on its Ease of Doing Business Survey - an improvement of 21 places from its previous standing.
There are plenty of reasons to regard Kenya as an investment target, including:
The Kenyan government is usually identified as investment friendly and has represented numerous regulatory reforms to simplify both foreign and local investment. Kenya has a well-developed social and physical infrastructure. It is considered the main alternative location to South Africa, for major corporations seeking entry into the African continent.
Small scale businesses are providing more and more jobs in Kenya. With increased but simplified regulations, they are able to blossom into large, legitimate businesses that can eventually create more jobs and government revenue.
The step by step guide to registering a company in Kenya is:-
It is not mandatory to make employee salary payments from an in-country bank account, however it is mandatory to make third party authority payments from an in-country bank account.
The Central Bank of Kenya is tasked with formulating and implementing monetary and fiscal policies.
Banks are open from 9:00am to 3:00pm Monday to Friday. Some branches open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 11:00am.
Most businesses in Kenya are open from Monday to Friday, though some also trade on Saturday. Business hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm, closing for an hour over lunch (1:00pm – 2:00pm).
Kenya is one of East Africa’s most politically and economically influential nations. Spanning the equator, Kenya’s southeastern coast borders the Indian Ocean, while it is bordered to the north by Ethiopia and South Sudan, and to the south and west by Uganda and Tanzania. Civilisation in Kenya dates back to the Paleolithic era, and indigenous Bantu and Nilotic populations - while European and Arab colonisation of the territory took place in the 19th century. The British Empire exerted political control over Kenya from 1895 - until the country obtained its independence in 1963. Kenya’s environments and landscapes are varied, ranging from the tropical warmth of the coastline, to the cool, dry, interior savannah grasslands, and the snow-capped Mount Kenya. Kenya’s geographic diversity has given rise to a spectrum of animal and plant species which, combined with the country’s natural beauty, attract thousands of tourists each year.
Full Name: Republic Of Kenya
Population: 49.7 million (World Bank, 2017)
Major Language: Swahili, English
Major Religion: Christianity, Muslim
Monetary Unit: Kenyan Shillings
Main Exports: Tea, coffee, spices, vegetables, clothing, fruit, gems and pharmaceuticals
Internet Domain: .ke
International Dialling Code: +254
Good Morning Habari Ya Asubuhi
Good Evening Habari Ya Jioni
Do You Speak English? Unajua Kizungu?
Good Bye kwaheri
Thank You Asante
See You Later Tutaonana
The date is written in the format date/month/year, for example 1 July 2019 is 1/07/19.
Numbers are written with a comma to denote fractions, for example KES 150 000,75.
The Tax Year in Kenya runs from 1st January to 31st December.
The key legislative authorities in Kenya are -
Payroll providers do not need to be licenced to make any tax or social security fillings on behalf of their client in Kenya.
All tax returns should be completed by 30th June.
Income tax is charged on the income earned by anyone resident in Kenya. A resident is an individual who has permanent residence in Kenya and has spent any part of the working year in the country or has spent 183+ days working in the country. A foreign employee in a non-Kenyan firm who is resident in Kenya is subject to tax on all emoluments.
Income tax is a direct tax charged on incomes of individuals from: -
The method of collecting tax at source from individuals in formal employment is called Pay As You Earn (PAYE). The employer deducts a certain amount of tax from the employee’s salary or wages on each payday then remits the deductions to the KRA.
The four main taxes include:
Income tax is taxable to individuals and limited companies (including trusts). The income of a partnership is charged on the partners who share the income. Apart from collecting taxes directly, the commissioner may employ agents to collect taxes on his behalf and remit that tax (and account for) to him. The monthly personal relief is KES 1,408 per month.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is a statutory savings scheme to provide for retirement. Both employers and employee’s contribute 5% (up to KSH 200) per month.
An individual earning more than KSH 1,000 per month must make a monthly contribution to the National Hospital Insurance Fund which entitles them to a reduction in certain hospital charges.
Kenya is a member of the International Social Security Association.
Monthly contributions should be made to the authorities for social security payment by the 15th of the following month.
All the reports are printed and generated by the payroll processor in Kenya.
The client verifies and stamps them with their company stamp before submitting to the KRA (Kenya Revenue Authority).
New starts have to be registered with local authorities only if they do not have an existing Personal Identification Number (PIN), National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) numbers. They must be registered prior to the payroll run being completed.
For setting up a new start, the details required include:
This process should also be followed for any expats. There is no set timeline for this to happen.
Employers cannot unfairly terminate the employment of an employee. Employers must prove justified reasons for the termination of an employee’s employment. The termination must be investigated and an appeal heard before resorting to termination. If the employer fails to adhere to this then it will be considered unfair.
Employers in Kenya must withhold income tax and social security contributions from their employees’ salaries as part of the payroll process. Income tax and social security contributions are collected via the PAYE system, and then submitted to the KRA on a monthly basis.
Income tax rates in Kenya vary by residency status: non-residents pay tax only on income earned within Kenya, while residents pay on income earned worldwide. Kenya’s income tax rate levels are as follows:
KES 0 – 13,4160 10%
KES 13,4160 to 26,0568 15%
KES 22,60568 to 38,6976 20%
KES 38,6976 to 51,3372 25%
KES 51,3372 upwards 30%
Employers may provide online payslips to their employees, and must keep payroll reports for 7 – 10 years (depending on type).