How to Start an NGO in Kenya: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Do you have a noble cause you would like to implement in Kenya? If yes, start an NGO (non-governmental and non-profit organization). The NGO Coordination Board registers and regulates local and international NGOs operating in Kenya. 

If you have the funds and a viable noble cause, you should learn how to start an NGO in Kenya. This article explains everything you should know. 

How to Start an NGO in Kenya

Starting an NGO in Kenya is easier if you prepare adequately. You must identify your cause, seek legal funding sources, register your NGO, and promote it to get more donors. We will explain each of these activities below. 

Identifying Your Cause

Before you register your NGO, ensure you identify its purpose. What noble cause do you plan to do, and does it conflict with the government’s responsibilities? Is your prime goal too big that donors will refuse to fund it? 

Feasible noble causes to try in Kenya include the following: 

  • Uplift and educate bright but poor students in your region
  • Empower women by providing simple projects they can do to earn a living
  • Start a youth project in your area to get young people out of crime and drug abuse
  • Provide sanitary pads to young school girls in poverty-stricken areas of Kenya
  • Eradicate poverty by building simple homes for the poor people in your constituency
  • Provide clean drinking water to those who do not have it

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Seeking Funding for Your NGO 

The NGO Coordination Board will want you to disclose the sources of your NGO’s finances. You need these funds to meet your office overheads, pay employees’ wages, promote your organization, etc.

Identifying these sources before registering your NGO is imperative. Common sources of NGO funding in Kenya include: 

  • Your salary or savings
  • Donations from local and international well-wishers
  • An activity that can continually support the NGO’s affairs, including making souvenirs for sale, farming, etc
  • Grants from the government or other organizations
  • Crowdfunding

Note: You should write a business plan to avoid embezzling your NGO funds. It will act as your yardstick for measuring performance and growth.

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Registering Your NGO

Armed with your prime goal of starting an NGO and a reliable source of funds, you can start the registration procedure. Ensure you have the necessary documents, which include:

  • Cover letter asking for an NGO registration
  • Fully paid and approved Name Reservation form
  • Duly filled Form 3
  • Readily completed Form 1
  • Two colored passport-size photos for officials and board members 
  • Include copies of the KRA PIN certificate and national ID card/passport for officials and board members
  • Two copies of the Constitution. It should have the valid signatures of the suggested officials and board members 
  •  Certificate of Good Conduct copies. If you are a foreigner, you should provide a notarized police clearance certificate from your country. Ensure it is at most six months
  • Minutes permitting the application for the registration of an NGO with a given agenda and resolution. All interim officials should have been a part of the meeting 
  • Signatures of all interim NGO officials and board members
  • The processing fee. You’ll be charged Ksh. 16,000 if you’re a Kenyan and Ksh. 30,000 if you’re a foreigner.

Information Required to Register an NGO in Kenya

Before registering an NGO, ensure you share this crucial information about your proposed organization:

  • The business name of your NGO
  • Contact details of your upcoming NGO,  including its residential address/location, postal address, telephone numbers, and email address 
  • Personal details of at least four officials, including the chairman, treasury, secretary, and one or both board members
  • The goals you aim to achieve
  • A work plan for the first year
  • The government ministry under which the NGO will operate
  • A budget outline for the first year
  • A detailed organization chart
  • A Memorandum of Understanding between your NGO and its donor or parent organization
  • The local or international NGO  you expect to run under 

The Registration Process

Registering an NGO in Kenya involves the following steps:

Step 1: Perform a Name Search

After identifying the cause to base your NGO on, the next step is to find a suitable name for it. Create three different names before visiting your closest Huduma Center to do a name search. 

Alternatively, you can conduct a name search and registration online via your eCitizen Portal

If somebody has chosen one name, you can look up the next one. An official at Huduma Center will give you the Form F2 to fill out. You can also download this form from your eCitizen Portal and fill it out. After filling it out, you’ll upload it through the portal for further processing. 

Upon the approval of your NGO’s name, you’ll have to pay Ksh. 1,000 for the reservation of your name.

Step 2: Fill Out and Submit Relevant Registration Forms

Fill out your forms using the block letters format to ensure acceptance. So, do the following things: 

  • Fill out the original Form 3
  • Fill out the original Form 1 and share the details of your proposed NGO’s contact person
  • Attach a notice showing the NGO’s office location, postal address, phone contacts, and email address. Ensure the notification has the signatures of the three interim officials 
  • Pay 400 Kenyan shillings when submitting your original forms 3 and 1 
  • Attach two colored passport photographs of the three interim officials and two board members. Each person’s passport photo should have their name on the backside 
  • Gather all the other documents, as shown in the above list

Once you finish the above steps, submit your application for the registration of your NGO with the NGO Coordination Board. Present every necessary document to increase your odds of success. 

After receiving your application, the NGO Coordination Board will send you an acknowledgment letter

The entire process of registering an NGO in Kenya can take about three months. If the board approves your NGO application, it will issue you a registration certificate. 

How to Promote Your NGO

After registering your NGO in Kenya, you can start running it immediately. 

Marketing is one of the most crucial activities you should do to help your business grow. A strategic marketing plan could get you more funds from donors. 

You can then use these funds to expand your NGO activities. Most NGOs add online and offline marketing techniques to their strategies. Thus, you can advertise your NGO on TV channels, newspapers, magazines, social media pages, Google, GoFundMe, etc. 

Additionally, hire a website designer to help you create a website and social media pages. 

These pages should give well-wishers a donate button in case they want to support your cause. Look for related NGOs and request them for partnerships and alliances. 

How to Raise Your Odds of Success

Now that you know how to start an NGO in Kenya, how do you increase your odds of a successful registration? The best way is to ensure you have met some qualifications before submitting your application. They can increase your chances of succeeding. 

These qualifications include: 

  •  Demonstrate how your NGO can transform the lives of the people it is targeting to assist. 
  • Among your top three officials looking to start an international NGO, one should be a Kenyan. 
  • When creating an international NGO, ensure a third of the board members are Kenyans.