HOW TO START A GENERAL SUPPLIES COMPANY IN KENYA

Kariuki Maina
By Kariuki Maina 20 Min Read

Registration of general supplies company in Kenya takes 3 days at Nairobi. The registration includes a certificate of incorporation and a CR12 form. Supplies Business Registration requirements include the fee, passport photos, id card number, pin number, occupation, director residence, emails, telephone numbers and shareholding.

Full Registration of a general supplies business in Kenya is easy. Starting the business registration process for a limited company is simple as well. Registration on i-tax with Kenya revenue authority and also get a business permit from the local county authority for your office. General supplies business is very lucrative and opportunities are many to win a supply tender in Kenya public and private organisations.

The fact that you are a general supplier or a general trading company means that you can supply unlimited types of goods and services. Every day, institutions and private companies advertise for open supply tenders at the central government level and local government levels that you can apply for.

This article is a step by step guide on how to set up a successful general supplies business in Kenya and win supply tenders in a short time.

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How to start a general supplies Business in Kenya, includes:-

  • Start a Market Survey on general supplies company / business
  • Choose 3# proposed names for your general supplies company before you start registration
  • Prepare the requirements for registration of a general supplies business
  • Start an e-citizen account
  • Fill in the business name /company registration forms
  • Apply for a Company PIN number from i-tax
  • Start a Company / Business Bank account
  • Start the registration with AGPO if applicable in your case
  • Start a Small office in a convenient location
  • Make a general trading company Profile
  • Start making Applications for pre-qualification listing in as many NGOS, Gov’t Institutions and Private Companies
  • Look out for open supply tenders in local dailies and start applying as often as you can

​There is much more that you can do to prepare yourself for general supplies business / Company in Kenya. While putting the business structures the first things you should do, you also need to read around on how to make successful supply tender applications

1.    DO A MARKET SURVEY ON GENERAL SUPPLIES BUSINESS

If you want get into the general supplies business, you will need to fully understand how its works. You have many resources that you can read from on how to be successful in general supplies business including online, news articles and much more. This will also help you to decide what type of business entity you want to start with.

While doing your research, you need to find a niche within the supply business that you can comfortably handle. Find the primary goods and services that you are competent and comfortable in supplying. While nothing stops you from supplying everything in the book, it helps to specialize in an area of supplies, say medical equipment, motor vehicle spares and repair, industrial equipment, agricultural equipment, office supplies, building materials etc.

This means that you can easily build your company experience if you have several past supply tenders that you have done in your portfolio. Most procuring entities prefer to award tenders to companies that can demonstrate their experience from previously completed supply projects of the same equipment or goods that they seek to procure.

2.    CHOOSE 3# PROPOSED NAMES FOR YOUR GENERAL SUPPLIES COMPANY

Choosing a name for your business may seem like a very straight forward issue. However, your company name creates the first impression of what your company is all about. It is therefore important to take your time and consider various options in naming your company. There are several ways of going about naming your company depending on your preferences. It’s however important to consider the fact that, you are not naming your company for yourself only but most importantly for your clients.

There are various ways to select your general supplies company or business name. Some people prefer to create a name that combines pars of their first and last names. Others want to combine parts of the first or last names of the 2 or more partners in the business. While still, others prefer to give their company a name with a meaning or one that projects efficiency, honesty, robustness, scope of operations etc. Whichever method you choose to find a name for your supplies business, make sure it makes sense firstly to your clients. The uniqueness of the business name also matters to show that you are not a run of the mill company but one with values and a mission.

In order to register your supply business or company with the office of the registrar general, you need to submit 3 names. Make sure these are arranged in order of their preference so if the first name is taken, the registrars can resort to the second one and so on. Currently, the name search is done concurrently with the actual business registration as opposed to the previous system where you had to do a name search first and then make an application for company registration.

3.    PREPARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO REGISTER A GENERAL SUPPLIES BUSINESS

Before you start the general supplies incorporation process, you need to know and have ready, the requirements needed to register a company. While the different categories of business registrations require different items, most of the requirements are quite standard. For example, you will definitely require proof of identity, personal contact and domicile details and company location details.

To avoid going back and forth while filling the company registration forms, it’s convenient to have everything ready with you from the start. The registration process may be tedious if you are doing it for the first time, but the fact that it’s all online, has made it super easy to do. However, if you still find it strenuous or you simply don’t have the time to spend filling-in the forms, you can hire a company registration agent in Kenya.

Requirements to register a General Supplies business in Kenya

  • A Complete company registration Form CR1
  • Passport size photo of the general supply company Shareholders
  • Kenya Revenue Authority PIN number for supply company shareholders
  • Memorandum of the supply company
  • New Supplies Company proposed physical address to include street, building, plot number, town and county
  • Residential Address notification of company directors
  • Copy of ID card of each company Director
  • General Supply company directors names, email address, telephone numbers
  • Company Directors’ occupations

4.    OPEN AN E-CITIZEN ACCOUNT

The government of Kenya through the office of the registrar general has moved all company registrations online. This is possible through the e-citizen portal which offers more government services like driving license renewal, e-visa application, passport application and renewal, vehicle registration, and even some county government services. This has removed the need to go and queue for hours at the registration office and also made the whole process faster and easier.

You will need to open an e-citizen account through which to access the business registration services portal.  All your other services like passport renewal, driving license renewal, vehicle registration can now be done one e-citizen account. To open an e-citizen account, you need to have the following requirements.

Requirements to open an e-citizen account in Kenya

  • ID Card copy
  • Valid Email Address
  • Working mobile telephone number
  • A stable internet connection

5.    FILL IN THE BUSINESS NAME /COMPANY REGISTRATION FORMS

The next step is to fill in the business registration form CR1. This is the main form that collects the particulars of the type of company that you wish to register.  You will need to fill in the nature of your business as general supplies or general trading.

The system has a list of categories for different types of companies. You will need to select the main classification of your business, followed by the exact category and sector of the general supply company. The system provides you with a drop down list at each stage so that you can choose the correct category and identify the nature of your business. You also have a section where you can write other services offered by your company.

Fill in the application form cr1 for general supply company with these details below:-

  • General Supply company director names
  • Company director postal address
  • ID card or passport number of the supply company directors
  • Company Director nationality
  • Directors telephone numbers
  • File the notification of Company director Residence
  • Email addresses for the directors
  • Occupation of the company directors
  • Adopt the Memorandum of the company
  • Indicate the nominal capital of the company indicating number of shares and value of each
  • Fill in the Beneficial owner form
  • Submit the forms after signatures and make payment

6.    APPLY FOR A COMPANY PIN NUMBER FROM I-TAX

After you get the general supply company certificate of incorporation, you will also find a CR12 form which is a summary of all the newly incorporated company details. Your company is now registered under the company Act 2015. Your certificate of incorporation will include 3 very important things including:

  • A special incorporation number for your company
  • The name of your new company
  • Date of incorporation
  • Signature of the registrar

To APPLY FOR KRA PIN, click here.


You can now apply for a company PIN from i-tax portal of the Kenya Revenue authority. You will need to provide the certificate of incorporation, your personal PIN number and copy of ID card. You will be liable to pay an corporation tax of 30% every year and a dividend tax of 5% every year. You can make returns and apply for issuance of a certificate of compliance from KRA.
Foreign companies with a branch in Kenya will pay 37.5% corporation tax. You will use your new company PIN number to file your taxes with the Kenya revenue authority.

7.    OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

It’s now time to open a bank account with any of the local banks. It is good to consider each bank in regards to what products they offer for general supply companies. Some banks are able to give you guarantees for big tenders while others are able to advance you huge loans on the basis of a local purchase order or letter of tender award.

Having a good bank can make the difference between your company being able to supply a big tender or not. Its good to go with a bank that seems to have flexibility when it comes to their variety of credit facilities to general supplies businesses.

8.    REGISTER WITH AGPO IF YOUR COMPANY QUALIFIES

If your new company directorship is 70% owned by youth, women or persons with disability, you are entitled to register with the new government public procurement system. The AGPO or Access to Government Procurement Opportunities reserves atleast 30% of the tender awards to youth, women and PWDs.

If your new general supplies company qualifies for AGPO, then its to your advantage to apply for listing. It helps a great deal to have atleast 30% procurement opportunities reserved for such a group and makes it easier to win a tender.

Requirements for AGPO Registration in Kenya

  • National ID Card/ Kenyan Passport
  • Business Registration / certificate of incorporation for Supply companies
  • CR12 for limited company
  • Partnership deed  for partnership businesses
  • Tax compliance certificate
  • Letter from the National Construction authority 

​9.    OPEN A SMALL OFFICE IN A CONVENIENT LOCATION

You now have the basic structure of a general supplies company and what you now need is a small office for your company. When looking for an office to rent for a general supplies company, you need to take in consideration the convenience and access. The office will be the place where you will be putting together tender documents.

Requirements for a General Supplies Company Office:-

  • Basic office furniture like seats, tables,
  • A desktop or laptop computer and Printer for office
  • A stable office internet connection
  • A lockable filing cabinet
  • An office telephone number
  • An office board room if possible

10.    MAKE A COMPANY PROFILE

Its now time to make a company profile for your general supplies company. A business profile is a summary of your business vision, goals, mission and values. It also shows the types of services and goods you supply to your clients. Most importantly, it also shows the clients that you have previously supplied goods to. A profile is a statement about your company that defines its aspirations, operations and capacities to service small and large orders.

Every tender that you will want to apply for will definitely require you to include a company profile including other documents like certificate of good conduct, tax compliance certificate, certificate of incorporation, AGPO certificate among others.

Requirements of a good general supplies company profile:-

  • Company Profile Cover page with company contact person
  • Business Background or profile introduction
  • Company Mission and Vision statements
  • Company Values
  • Business Name
  • Location and facilities
  • Organizational structure and Ownership
  • Company Staff
  • Company Products and Services Profile
  • Quality Management 
  • Past Clientele Profile
  • Occupational Health, Safety and Environment Statement
  • Organizational Capacity for business
  • Company Profile Summary

11.    MAKE APPLICATIONS FOR PRE-QUALIFICATION LISTING IN AS MANY NGOS, GOV’T INSTITUTIONS AND PRIVATE COMPANIES

At this point your general supplies company is set for business. You can now start looking for business from large corporations and private companies. Most of the government corporations require you to apply to approved in their pre-qualification list of companies.

This means that you will not be considered for tender award if you are not listed as part of their service and goods providers. So your first task is to ensure that your company applies to be listed as a supplier in most of these corporations.

However, there are some institutions and companies that don’t require your company to be prequalified before they can apply for tender awards. The more companies you are able to apply to for pre-qualification, the more chances you will have in future to apply for supply tenders.

12.    LOOK OUT FOR OPEN SUPPLY TENDERS IN LOCAL NEWSPAPERS AND APPLY OFTENLY

You can now start looking out for open tenders advertised in the local dailies. The government also has a central tenders listing website where you can see all the open tenders that you can apply for across the country. These usually include the central and local government open tenders.

You will need to have access to local newspapers daily so that you don’t miss an opportunity. Tendering is  game of numbers as well. The more tenders you apply for, which your company is qualified for, the higher the chances you have of winning more awards in a single year. So try and be very active in seeking out these tenders and apply to as many as possible.

TYPES OF GENERAL SUPPLIES COMPANIES TO START IN KENYA

Types of general supplies companies to register in Kenya

  1. Office Stationery company
  2. Building and Construction company
  3. Building and Road Construction Management
  4. Construction Materials Supply
  5. Office furniture and Equipment
  6. Consumer electronics and electrical
  7. Mobile Phones and accessories Supply
  8. Medical, Clinical and Diagnostics Equipment
  9. Beauty Services, Personal Care products and merchandise
  10. Printing, Branding and advertising Services
  11. Training and consultancy
  12. Plastic ware, cutlery and crockery
  13. Motor vehicle spare parts and tyres
  14. Small Civil works and maintenance and repairs
  15. Dry cereals, fruits, eggs, juices and fresh produce
  16. Bed linen, curtains and sanitary items
  17. Agricultural Equipment, Goods and Implements
  18. Computer accessories, toners and cartridges Supplies
  19. Foods and Beverages supply
  20. Commercial cleaning materials and cleaning services
  21. Garbage collection and others
  22. Gifts and Souvenirs Supply

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By Kariuki Maina Kariuki Maina
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