Shipping From China to Kenya (The Definitive Guide)

Since we started writing the business series, there have been some inquiries regarding the process of shipping from China to Kenya.

Today we will look at a small business guide on shipping from China to Kenya. For some of us, we may think the process is as simple as finding a supplier with cheap products and then shipping them home to make a considerable profit.

However, the process is not as simple as it may look on the outside. There is the looming possibility of one being scammed of their life long savings, among other things.

In this article, we will outline a guide to small businesses on shipping successfully from China to Kenya.

Related: List of Shipping Companies in Kenya.

There are many different problems that one can face when shipping products from China. For instance:

  • Order is less than supplier’s MOQ
  • Product’s shipping cost being higher than it’s value
  • Getting fraudulent agents

How to ship from China to Kenya

The biggest problem lies here. However, there are many companies in Kenya these days that have come up with this service of shipping from China to Kenya.

Air Freight and international express

In Kenya, there are some International companies offering air freight and express, such as DHL.

The main difference between international express and air freight is that: Air freight is suitable for over 300 kg goods while international express is for less than 300 Kg products. One is required to pick these goods from the airport.

LCL companies offering all-in price shipping

The LCL companies are the best for small business shipping. Most of the times, the companies handle everything for the customer; all that one has to do is pick up the goods from their warehouse. Below we will discuss 2 of such companies in Kenya.

a) African Salihiya Nairobi

This company came in highly recommended from people who have used their services before. They are known for packaging, shipping and also clearing with the authorities.

All that a business owner has to do is to pick up the cargo from their offices at Eastleigh Nairobi. The company charges a minimum charge of Kes. 9/kg.

b) Kentex Cargo Clearing and forwarding

This company has also been recommended by a friend of mine who used their services to ship video games from the US. The good news is that the company provides shipping from Alibaba to Kenya directly. Their lead period to deliver is equally shorter.

Shipping from China to Kenya – Small Business

What is a small business? And What’s the minimum shipping quantity?

Various business experts have different definitions of what a small business is. However, most sourcing and consulting companies define a small business as one whose imports are less than USD 500,000 in a year.

This amount is too high for a business starter to reach in one year left alone in 5 years. This difficulty, therefore, explains why it is tough for small business to ship products from China to Kenya.

A small business is one that can import different products worth USD 5,000- USD 50,000, in a given year.

You may also like: List of online shops in Kenya

The shipment volume for this amount of cash is from 5CBM to a 40HQ container. However, this volume can quickly fill a factory’s MOQ.

Moreover, since small business imports at low quantities, it may be tough to fill a full shipment container.

The other option is mainly to buy enough products to fill the minimal less than a container load (LCL) target for shipping. This LCL is usually around 4 to 5 CMB.

A small quantity buyer is the one that buys less than Kes 200,000 worth of goods per order. This type of buyer is the one therefore suitable for shipping products from China to Kenya in an LCL  container.

Products suitable for importation by small businesses

Before shipping or importing anything from China, it is essential to decide on what you are going to sell. Not all products are suitable to be imported by a small quantity buyer. Lets then discuss the most appropriate goods.

a. Low size products with high value

A big problem for small quantity importers is shipping. Most of the times, the shipping volume of a small business will fail to fill even an LCL.

As a result of this, a business owner will be forced to use express or air freight for shipping. The air express shipping is basically 8-9 times higher than the shipping cost.

To reduce the cost burden of shipping, a small quantity buyer has to focus on buying low size products. Some of those products may include:

  • Watches
  • electronic products
  • Fashion accessories
  • Hair accessories

The small-sized high-quality products will give a business an upper hand over its competitors because the shipping cost may not exceed 10% of the product value.

b) Exciting products over typical products

We all think that if we buy regular everyday products from China to resell, we will make a killing. The truth is, we won’t.

This is because there will be many people importing these products at low cost, which will make it hard to compete with them.

In most cases, the price of regular everyday products when imported is higher than what one could buy them for in Kenya for reselling.

These exciting products have to be unique and of high quality.

Finding Chinese Suppliers

The best way to find a supplier when you are a small business is through the internet. It may be very costly for one to visit China to find suppliers and then import an LCL.

Some big company also prefers shopping online rather than going to China themselves to buy the goods.

Yiwu wholesale market is the most important market place in China to buy products. This market place is a multicultural city.

In case one has all the finances to visit China to find a supplier, then this is an excellent place to start.

Related: How to ship from Amazon to Kenya.


Alibaba is the best place to search for Chinese suppliers online. Most of the time, their MOQ will be less than that of the factory warehouse. Therefore making it perfect for small quantity shipping.

If you want to learn tips on getting the best suppliers on Alibaba, please go through the article, it’s quite informing.


Sometimes, Alibaba might be having a higher MOQ than one can afford. DHgate provides a better alternative to Alibaba.

Here one can even find suppliers willing to sell products in tiny quantities. The only issue with DHgate is that most of its products are highly-priced.

It might, therefore, be tough getting a good to resell price for the Kenyan market.


Aliexpress is slightly cheaper than DHgate when it comes to products costs, but the price is higher than Alibaba.

The MOQ is also very small as one can even buy products in only one piece. If a small business owner decides to order from Aliexpress and DHgate, they have to be sure they are reselling to high-end-customers.

In conclusion

It is crucial to carry out due diligence before selecting a supplier from China and a shipping agency from China to Kenya. Check online reviews from their previous customers to see if they are trustworthy. Diligence prevents one from being scammed.

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Mary is one of the leading writers on Urban Kenyans. She is knowledgable on matters Kenya and has been able to educate many Kenyans on this platform.

2 thoughts on “Shipping From China to Kenya (The Definitive Guide)”

  1. chinese -english-french-swahili-kirwanda translator, court interpreter, shipping agent, tour guide, construction manger, epz garments manufacturing experience, looking for international sales job


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