How to Start a Food Delivery Business in Kenya: The Ultimate Guide in 2024

While there are existing food delivery companies in the Kenyan market, aspiring entrepreneurs still have an opportunity. The growing economy of busy people who prefer food delivered to their doorsteps offers a ready customer base. This article provides the guidelines you need to start a food delivery business in Kenya. 

Market Research

Conduct comprehensive market research to identify Kenya’s food delivery service demand. Analyze the competition, target customer demographics, and popular cuisine preferences. Understand the challenges and opportunities in the local market to tailor your business strategy effectively.

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Choose a Business Model

Here are some popular food delivery model options:

Partial Service Model

  • Aggregator Model: In this model, your business partners with local restaurants and eateries to offer their menu items for delivery. You act as an intermediary between customers and restaurants, providing a platform for online ordering and delivery coordination. The revenue is generated through commissions on each order or restaurant listing fee.
  • Cloud Kitchen Model: This model involves setting up your kitchen or kitchens where you prepare and cook food for delivery exclusively. You can offer a variety of cuisines and menu items, giving you full control over the quality and branding of the food.

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Subscription-Based Model

  • Meal Subscription Services: Create meal subscription plans that offer customers daily, weekly, or monthly meals. This model can provide a steady income stream and build customer loyalty.
  • Office or Corporate Meal Plans: Target local businesses and offices by offering meal plans for their employees. Provide lunch and dinner options that can be delivered to the workplace.

Food Delivery Apps

  • Develop a Standalone App: Create a dedicated mobile application for your food delivery service. The app should be user-friendly, with features like menu browsing, ordering, real-time tracking, and payment processing.
  • Use Existing Food Delivery Apps: Partner with popular food delivery apps in Kenya, such as Uber Eats, Jumia Food, or Glovo. Listing your service on these platforms can give you access to more customers.

Identify a Niche 

Identifying a niche is essential to stand out in a crowded market. Here are various niches to consider when starting a food delivery business in Kenya:

  • Local and Specialty Cuisine: Focus on offering local or specialty cuisines that are not readily available through mainstream delivery services. For example, you could specialize in traditional Kenyan dishes or exotic international cuisines that are in demand but have yet to be widely offered.
  • Organic and Locally Sourced Ingredients: Highlight organic and locally sourced ingredients in your menu. This niche appeals to eco-conscious consumers who value sustainable and environmentally friendly options.
  • Family Meals and Bulk Orders: Specialize in family-sized or bulk orders, making ordering from your service convenient for families and large gatherings. This can differentiate your business in the market.
  • Office and Corporate Catering: Focus on catering to offices and corporate events. This niche can be profitable, especially in business districts.

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Create a Business Plan

Craft a detailed business plan outlining your goals, financial projections, and operational strategies. Address key aspects like startup costs, pricing, and revenue streams. A solid business plan will guide your decision-making and help secure financing if needed.

Register Your Business

Comply with Kenyan legal requirements by registering your food delivery business. Choose a suitable business structure, such as a sole proprietorship or limited liability company, and obtain the necessary licenses and permits.

The legal requirements for food business in Kenya include:

Business Name

Visit the nearest Huduma Center for a name search with three prospective names with Ksh. 150 for each. This is to ensure your business name isn’t similar to another one.

Alternatively, you can conduct a business name search on your eCitizen portal and make the payments via Mpesa. 

After the name is approved, registration will be done after 5 days at a  cost of Ksh. 1,000. You’ll then receive a certificate of incorporation, a CR12 letter, and a memorandum.

Food Hygiene License

A health officer will visit your premises to find out whether you comply with hygiene standards including ventilation, drainage, waste disposal, food storage etc. If approved, you will receive a food hygiene certificate which costs Ksh. 7,000.

City County Business Permit

You must obtain a permit from your county to operate a business. The cost will depend on the size of your food business. 

For standard-sized businesses, the cost is Ksh. 10,000 per year after which you’ll receive a receipt and a certificate a week later

Develop a Menu

If you plan to prepare the food yourself, create an enticing menu that caters to diverse tastes while maintaining a competitive edge. 

Consider offering popular local dishes and international options to attract a broader customer base.

Local foods include:

  • Nyama choma
  • Ugali
  • Mukimo
  • Madras
  • Chapati
  • Sukuma Wiki
  • Githeri
  • Bhajia
  • Chapati

International foods include:

  • Lasagna
  • Pizza
  • Burger
  • Sushi
  • Tempura
  • Scottish scorns
  • Paella
  • Butter chicken

Develop a Delivery System

Efficient delivery logistics are crucial to the success of your business. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Delivery Personnel: if you aren’t delivering the food yourself, hire reliable and responsible delivery personnel. Ensure they understand the local geography well to make timely deliveries.
  • Delivery Vehicles: Depending on your budget, you can start with bicycles, motorcycles, or small cars. Ensure they are properly maintained and branded with your business name and contact information.
  • Delivery Radius: Define your delivery area and ensure you can meet demand within that radius.
  • Delivery Timing: Be punctual and provide customers with accurate estimated delivery times.

Marketing and Promotion

With effective marketing, you’ll increase your customers over time. Here are the different ways to market your food delivery business in Kenya:

Online Marketing:

  • Social Media Marketing: Run paid ads and post engaging content on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website for search engines to improve visibility.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list and send newsletters with special offers and updates.
  • Online Food Delivery Platforms: List your business on popular food delivery apps and websites. They include Uber Eats, Jumia Food, and Bolt Food.

Offline Marketing:

  • Flyers and Brochures: Distribute physical promotional materials in your delivery area.
  • Local Events: Participate in local events and food festivals.
  • Referral Program: Encourage your existing customers to refer friends and family with incentives.

Customer Service

Exceptional customer service is the backbone of a successful food delivery business in Kenya. This includes:

  • Responsive Support: Have customer support that addresses inquiries, resolves issues, and assists customers with orders. To cater to different preferences, offer various contact options, such as phone, email, and chat.
  • Clear Communication: Keep customers informed about their orders. Send confirmation messages, estimated delivery times, and updates on the status of their deliveries.
  • Feedback Mechanism: Encourage customer feedback and reviews. Act on feedback to improve service quality and address any concerns promptly. Positive reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations are invaluable.

Problem Resolution: Be prepared to handle complaints and issues professionally and swiftly. Have a system to resolve problems and compensate customers for mistakes or inconveniences.