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MOMONEY TALKS: Time to stop running your business like a kiosk


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There are two types of folks in this town: there ones who want to run their business like it’s a kiosk and those who (want to) run it like a giant corporation.

As small business owners, we all begin in the kiosk category. Well, not all of us. But most of us.

If we’re not keeping our money under our mattresses, we’re leaving it in our personal M-pesa lines or stashing it in our personal current accounts.

And for a moment there, we can’t tell how much belongs to whom.

We think small. Thinking big means big business goals, and big business goals are scary. We don’t want to get scared; there’s enough scary going around already.

We approach the conversation of strategic growth with wobbly knees.

We scamper away when someone drops difficult-to-digest words such as ‘internal controls’ and ‘financial structures’ and ‘annual audit’ and ‘corporate tax’.

Then there’s the other folk on the other side of the spectrum.   

The ones with the giant-corporation mindset. They want to change and grow with their business so it can change the world.

They lay a sound foundation for their business by doing the most important thing – they register it as a limited liability company, or a business.

We kiosk thinkers can learn a lot from them.

Registering your business as a limited liability company or business isn’t as herculean as task as maintaining a clean diet. Or running a marathon. You will need the following (this reads like a cookbook recipe, ha-ha):

a) A scan of your national ID ready on email

b) Your KRA PIN certificate on email

c) Your co-directors’ ID and PIN (if you have any)

e) At least three options to name the company or business

I’m pulling your leg, ha-ha – you don’t need your payslip or your bank statements. Not even your secret M-pesa PIN. If someone asks you for these to register your company then they’re thinking to con you. Run!

You can register your company online yourself, through, e-citizen. Or you can be lazy like me and hire an agent to do the running around for you at Sheria House. You know, fast track the process.

This is my experience with the agent.  

First things first, the registrar of companies will need to conduct a name search in their database. They do this to check whether the name you’ve suggested for your company is available or not.

Each name search cost me Sh500.

The company name I wanted wasn’t available so I had to tweak it.

The tweaked name wasn’t available, either. I had to pad the tweaked name with some extra words just to pass the third name search.

The agent sent me a document – something like a certificate – showing the company name, and confirming that it had been typed correctly. It also said the name had been reserved for me for the next 30 days.

Save yourself these extra costs by having unique name options for your company. Something fresh. Something memorable. Something you wouldn’t name your kitten. There are no rules to naming your business but I’ll make some up and share with you in another story, another day.


Now let’s say you’ve locked down a company name.

For the sake of this story, let’s call it Avanti Investments Ventures. (Don’t bother stealing it, it’s not available.)

You will now need a certificate for Avanti Investment Ventures. Something to prove that the business exists and it belongs to you. That the Government of Kenya – the registrar of companies – says it’s legal and in their records.

To process the certificate, email them yours and your directors’ ID and PIN. Then M-pesa the agent the processing fee.

It cost me Sh18,000 for registration.

I received my Certificate of Incorporation in under a week.

Once you have your Certificate of Incorporation, go ahead and apply for your KRA PIN.

Again, I emailed my co-directors and mine’ ID and PIN, plus the Certificate of Incorporation.

Processing the company KRA PIN cost me Sh1,500.

I didn’t apply for our CR12 but I know I’ll need it later.

A CR12 is a legal document that lists your directors, their postal addresses and how many shares each director has.

You won’t need it as much as the institutions that offer you financial services will. An example is Safaricom. There’s a time they suspended our Paybill because we’d not submitted this CR12.

If this was 2015, my next statement would read ‘get a company seal, it’ll cost you a trip downtown and Sh3,000’.

It’s 2019, though, the regulations have changed. Institutions don’t require a company seal anymore.

Instead, get a company stamp.

They cost Sh1,500 downtown. Takes about two hours to make one for your company.

Get the self-inking ones. Select the design that has a date and space to sign.

You’ll need it later to stamp bank documents and such like.