How to Start an Online Business in Kenya

Are you a business person or simply someone seeking to employ yourself? Have you considered starting an online business in Kenya? If not, then this is for you. We are living in a contemporary world where businesses are no longer defined by geographical boundaries or demographics.

Traditionally, the only way people would know your business is bypassing outside your offices and seeing the small poster that you had placed outside. Things went to radio and television advertisement among others including billboards.


However, all that is part of the traditional way of doing things. Any serious business person should be in the processor at least considering to go online.

In the modern era, almost every adult or youth has a smartphone and access to the internet. As such, taking your business online brings it to the screens of millions of people searching for services and goods online. The internet allows you to reach more people than you would ever manage using traditional methods of advertising.

Kenyans are innovative and hardworking, as such, many of them are already leaping huge from investing in online businesses. I hear your woes that you do not have any background on IT.

I tell you what, I did hospitality management but my life is built on IT right now even without attending a single IT class. The bottom line is, anyone who knows to use a mouse and the keyboard can make a living out of online businesses.

In this guide, I will take you through starting an online business in Kenya. As you might know, online businesses are the future of just about any business that exists.

In Africa, Kenya is one of the countries that benefit from lite internet which explains why Kenya is the African silicon Savannah. Just like a conventional business, capital is needed to start an online business.

However, online businesses are cheaper to start since some expenses like physical offices or inventory are eliminated. Statistically, an online business done right stands a better chance of growing than a conventional business.

How to Start an online business in Kenya

If you have some basic IT skills, you can follow this process of starting an online business in Kenya all by yourself. If you do not have any IT skills, there is no reason to worry, simply continue reading this article for a step by step guide.

You Probably have a nice business idea, passion and dedication but you don’t have enough money to pay for all the basic requirements for setting up a typical store in town, start an online shop!


You know, in today’s world of e-Commerce basically, anything and everything can be sold over the internet. One of the most significant benefits of venturing into e-commerce is the ability to reach out to a wider customer base among other advantages such as low startup costs and 24/7service provision.

Here is what you need for starting an online business in Kenya

Step 1: Find Goods, product or services to Sell Online

This is where some basic research will be necessary. Ensure that you chose a product or a service that will be marketable and in demand. In e-commerce, you give people what they are looking for from the internet.

This is where your decision should be led by logic rather than optimism. If people are looking for apples, give them an apple, don’t try to sell them lemons or you will give up in the process.

Finding the right kind of products to sell online is one of the most important aspects of starting an online store.

Ideally, you want to find products that people are looking for that cannot be found in ordinary shops in quantity or variety. In addition, you want to find a niche that is very specialized and narrow.

Do I need a Business License Starting an online business in Kenya?

This depends on how you look at it. Licensing is very crucial if you are looking at growing your business in the long run.

Licensing will help you acquire the much-needed business loans from banks since your online business will be acknowledged as legal.

However, some people would avoid registering their online businesses to avoid paying taxes.

NB: It should be noted that this can attract penalties and liabilities once the government catches up with you

Step 2: Find a Domain name and Webhost

By now I am assuming that you have already settled on the type of business you want to run. The next step should be choosing a domain name that is short, memorable and catchy. Of importance, it should be related to the business you have chosen. Once you find an available domain name, register it and choose a reliable WebHost to host the site for you.

What you should be looking for in a Webhost

  • Should have good technical support
  • They should offer the features needed to run your online store
  • It should have a decent uptime of at least 99% uptime

NB: Most of the time, cheaper web host providers will have poor reliability or slow performance because they thrust too many websites onto a single server.

Of importance, choose a skilled web designer like Nabaleka to put up a website for you preferably using WordPress.

Step 3: Select a Shopping Cart

Now we are past the process of registering your domain name, and signing up for web hosting. Probably, you have also established where you are going to get your stock from. It is now time to start working on your online storefront.

Remind your web designer to select a shopping cart system that is appropriate for your use. Nabaleka digital design already knows the best options to choose from.

However, since we are generous with information, here are the important features that you should be looking for in an online shopping cart.

  • Single page checkout
  • Coupons/Gift vouchers
  • SEO friendly URLs

Step 4: Choose the appropriate Online Payment Plugin

You are selling goods and not giving them out. This is why you will need a payment option that people will pay you through ones they buy something from your already set online shop. There are many different ways to accept payments online in Kenya. Some of the most popular payment options include PayPal, Credit Cards, PesaPal and M-Pesa.

Step 5: Time to finish upsetting your Online Shop

By now you have a vacant room in the internet that is waiting for you to fill it with products. Envision it like an empty mall because it can hold hundreds of thousands of products. Now all you need to do is to make sure people come in numbers.

  1. Make sure you have included the name, contact and location details of your company
  2. You can play around with the colour of your shop to suit your unique style
  3. Use tactics like SEO, Social Media and Email marketing
  4. Do a bit of off-line marketing
  5. Convert some of your closest friends into your first customers

That, my friends is how you build a mall on space. Still if the steps were hard to follow, be sure to contact the digital experts.

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Brian is a founding writer at Urban Kenyans. His work is focused on how to improve the digital literacy of Kenyans online. He has been able to do so with his mastery of Kenya and the English Language.

5 thoughts on “How to Start an Online Business in Kenya”

  1. I have been on the internet looking for this information. Thank you. There is only one thing that, if you don’t mind me asking, what specific licenses are required to start an e-commerce business??
    What licenses does an online store like Jumia need? I hope to hear from you.


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