How to Register a Small Business in Kenya


There are several legal forms of business that the laws of Kenya provide for budding entrepreneurs to register their business in.

You can be a :

  1. Sole Proprietor
  2. Private Limited Company
  3. Public Limited Company
  4. Company Limited by Guarantee
  5. Foreign Company
  6. Limited Liability Partnership as provided by BRS (Business Registration Service) – the arm of government responsible for business registrations in Kenya.

All these options have their pros and cons which we will look into it in a future blog post.

In this blog post, we will focus on how you can register your small business as a sole proprietor (business name), that is, a business owned and run by one person.

A business name is a name or title under which a person or entity conducts a business. For example, you may not wish to operate under your personal name so you identify yourself in your preferred business name. Your real name may be Jane Kamau but you may want to register your business name as Ramogi General Shop.

A business name is not a legal entity. What this means is “in the eyes of the government” , you and the business are viewed as one and the same person unlike in a limited company where the company and you are two different persons or separate in the event you have a case to answer 😂. (a.k.a wewe ndio utabebwa)

Also as a sole proprietor, it does not mean that only one person is running the whole business (as this may be the case when you’re just starting a new business), it just means that the registered owner is one (whose name will appear in the business certificate) and will be held responsible for all the operations and actions of the business “in the eyes of the government” to put it simply.

The process of registering a small business in Kenya has undergone significant changes in the last 10 years, from a manual process where you had to go to the Office of the Attorney General in Sheria House, Nairobi CBD to now where you can register online at the comfort of your home or office.

The timeline has also significantly reduced from waiting 1 – 2 weeks, to register your small business and get a business certificate, to one working day for sole proprietorship.

The process of registering a business in Kenya

So, maybe you have being thinking for a long time about opening your own business but you get stuck on how to go about registration and getting it up and running in the right way.

Maybe you already have a great business name and/or idea in mind? Congratulations!

Finding a business name and a great business idea is an important first step toward starting your own business.

Now it’s time to take the next step, to be sure you can use your business name and protect it, by registering your new business name.

Here are the current steps to registering your business in Kenya.

1. Log on to your eCitizen Portal

The first step is to log in to your eCitizen account.

If you don’t have an eCitizen account, you can create one here with your National ID as a Kenya Citizen or a valid foreigner certificate as a Foreign Citizen.

2. Go to Business Registration Service Tab

On your eCitizen account dashboard, navigate to the Business Registration Service Tab and click Get Service.

Tip! You can also log in directly to BRS through your eCitizen account here.

3. Go to Make Application menu option

Navigate to Make Application menu option on your eCitizen account dashboard

4. Select the legal form of business you wish to register

On the Make Application menu option on your eCitizen account dashboard, you will be presented with several legal forms of business you can register your new business in (Business Name Registration, Private Limited Company, Public Limited Company, Company Limited by Guarantee, Limited Liability Partnership, Foreign Company)

You will select the Business Name Registration option to register your business as a sole proprietor.

5. Fill the Business Name Registration form

To begin the business name registration process, you will be required to:

  • Give your proposed business name. (You have the option to give up to 5 names. BRS will inform you which ones are available for you to register.) e.g. Jane’s Salon
  • State the nature of your business. (You will indicated the type of business you want to start.) e.g. Salon, Retail Shop, Butchery etc.
  • Give the address/location of your registered office. (You can provide your home address if you don’t have an office or the location of the place where you intend to do your business.)
  • Give your personal information details. (You will provide your name, postal address, phone number, National ID etc.)
  • Download the pre-filled BN/2 form, sign, scan and re-upload the form back into your eCitizen Portal.

6. Submit Business Name Registration Application form

After signing the pre-filled Business Name Registration application form (BN/2), you will re-upload the form into the eCitizen portal to complete the application process.

7. Pay for your Business Name Registration

After submitting your application, an invoice will be automatically generated and you will be redirected to a page where you will be required to pay for your application via mobile money (MPESA, Airtel Money, Equitel or Card payments – Visa or MasterCard)

The cost of registering a business name (sole proprietor) in Kenya is Kenya Shillings (KES) 950/-

After successful payment for the generated invoice, you will be able to download an e-receipt for your payment.

Under the Personal menu tab on your BRS eCitizen Portal dashboard, navigate to My Applications section to view the status of your application.

8. Download your Business Registration Certificate

If your application is successful, you will be able to download a PDF copy of your business certificate which you can choose to print.

The application approval process takes about 1 – 2 working days.

Under the Personal menu tab on your BRS eCitizen Portal dashboard, navigate to My Applications section to view your registered business in your eCitizen account.

On the far right, click View. You will be redirected to a page where you can view your registered business information.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to where you will see Downloads. Here you will find the option to download your business registration certificate.

There are good reasons to register a business before you start. For example, it gives you a professional look which in turn helps you win customers easily as people prefer to deal with a business set up rather than an individual person.

Thank you for reading through this article, it is my hope that it has helped you.

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions and share with a friend or two who you think might be interested in this information on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or WhatsApp.

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