How to Start Outside Catering Business in Kenya: The Ultimate Guide for 2024

Outside catering is among the most profitable businesses in Kenya currently. This is because the demand for outside catering is in high demand in the country. From weddings, graduations, funerals, and church functions to parties, you can’t lack customers. If you would like to venture into this lucrative idea, do you know how to start outside catering business in Kenya?

Today, I’ll take you through everything you need to start a successful outside catering business in Kenya. From creating a business plan and identifying a name to getting licenses and permits, you’ll know everything. Keep reading! 

How to Start Outside Catering Business in Kenya: Step-By-Step Guide

The most challenging part of event planning is catering. Most people cannot work out a catering budget for any number of guests. If you can do this math correctly, you have no excuse for not starting an outside catering business in Kenya. 

Many clients will want to delegate this task to you to focus on having fun. You must consider and do a few things when starting an outside catering enterprise in Kenya. These include: 

1. Identify the Business Type and Name

The first thing to decide when starting an outside catering business is its type. The most common types of businesses in Kenya include:

  • A private limited company
  • A partnership
  • Sole proprietorship

Most starters prefer to start alone by registering a sole proprietorship business. 

If you have people with similar interests, you can register a partnership or limited company business. Understand each business type before selecting the one to do. Once you finish this, pick a business name while focusing on your competition. 

Avoid jargon that ordinary Kenyans cannot remember. Instead, choose a catchy name that is also easy to remember. If potential clients encounter your business name online or offline, they should figure out your venture. 

Go to the eCitizen web portal and register the name you eventually pick for your business for 1,000 Kenyan shillings. The system will reject a name if other entrepreneurs have chosen it before. If that happens, you should form an alternative business name.

Find Out: The Worst Businesses To Start In Kenya 

2. Create a Business Plan 

Good businesspersons write everything down to create a reference point. A valid point in starting an outside catering business in Kenya is writing a business plan. 

A good business plan should contain the following:

  • Executive summary: It’s a concise overview of the entire business plan that highlights the key points. These points include the business concept, market opportunity, financial projections, and the purpose of the plan.
  • Business description: It explains the nature of your business, including its name, location, legal structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation), and a brief history.
  • Market analysis: Conduct market research to understand your target audience, industry trends, and competitors. Provide information on the size of your target market, its growth potential, and your market strategy.
  • Competitive analysis: Identify your main competitors and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. After that, explain how your business will differentiate itself and gain a competitive advantage.
  • Marketing and sales strategy: Outline your marketing and sales plans, including your target customer segments, pricing strategy, distribution channels, and promotional tactics.
  • Service description: Detail what your outside catering business offers and how it fulfills customer needs. Highlight any unique features or advantages.
  • Financial projections: Present financial forecasts, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Include revenue projections, expense estimates, and break-even analysis.

After doing a market survey to assess the viability of your business idea, write a plan with estimated start-up costs. After starting the catering business, check your actual spending against the estimated figures on the business plan.

Find Out: Main Sources Of Business Ideas In Kenya  

3. Identify Your Niche

Catering is relatively broad, and most start-up businesses cannot choose every niche. So, choose the niche you can base your business on. You can pursue more niches later on. When picking a niche, consider the events you can do well using your knowledge and skills. 

Then, choose the size of guest lists you can accept. If your catering resources only allow you to serve a few guests at a time, do not accept upscale and large events yet. Lastly, choose the type of meals you can serve guests. Most clients will ask about it when discussing your price quotations. 

4. Choose a Strategic Business Location

Some of the most successful event planning and catering companies began at home. Do not be afraid of starting your catering business from a room in your house. Just build an official business website or social media pages. 

Promote your hustle rigorously on social media to attract new clients. If you have enough working capital, choose an appropriate business location. This can be where you might get most of your clients from. If possible, set up an office near posh gardens that host different events. 

Other factors to consider when choosing a location for your business include:

  • Accessibility: It should be closer to major roads, highways, and public transportation for easy access by clients and suppliers. Also, ensure it has sufficient parking space for delivery vehicles, staff, and clients.
  • Target market: It should align with your target market—whether it’s residential areas, commercial districts, or event venues.
  • Competition: You should have a manageable level of competition, with an opportunity to differentiate your services. The location should not be oversaturated with catering businesses offering the same cuisine or style.
  • Local Regulations: Knowledge of local zoning laws, which may affect where you can operate and what types of events you can cater to. Additionally, you must ensure compliance with noise and parking regulations.

5. Purchase Cookery Equipment 

How to start an outside catering business in Kenya

Caterers need suitable food preparation and serving appliances. Ensure you have enough capital to buy everything you require. If hiring some items can lower your start-up costs, go for it. 

You will need most of the items you use in your kitchen and a grill for barbecuing meat. Most of the cookery equipment needed to start an outside catering business in Kenya include:

  • Cooking appliances: Gas or electric stoves and ovens, grills (charcoal, gas, or electric), deep fryers, microwaves.
  • Refrigeration and storage: Refrigerators or freezers, food transport containers, shelving units for storage, and food warmers.
  • Food preparation equipment: Cutting boards, knives, mixers, blenders, slicers, dicers, graters, zesters, measuring cups, spoons, mixing bowls.
  • Cookware and bakeware: Pots, pans, roasting pans, baking sheets and pans, stickpots, saucepans, griddles and skillets.
  • Food presentation: Chafing dishes, serving platters and trays, buffet servers, cutlery, food warmers and heat lamps, and serving utensils (tongs, ladles, etc.).
  • Cleaning and sanitization: Dishwashing equipment (sinks, dishwashers), dish racks and drying racks, sanitizing solutions and equipment, and cleaning supplies (sponges, scrubbers, detergent).
  • Outdoor cooking equipment: Outdoor grills and smokers, portable propane tanks, camp stoves, and outdoor cooking utensils.

6. Obtain a Business License

When starting a catering business in Kenya, you must obtain various licenses from the authorities. If not, you will close your business at the whiff of the City Council officers. 

A catering business in Kenya requires a few licences to qualify as legal. These include: 

  • Single business permit: Depending on your county, you might spend an average of Ksh. 7,000 to buy a single business permit. You should obtain it from your nearest County Council offices.
  • Food and Health Permit: The food you serve to the people should be clean and delicious. Thus, you will only qualify for the Food and Health Permit if a health specialist who inspects your shop finds no issues. If you need to alter or add something, the specialist will ask you to do it first. 
  • Fire and Safety Certificate: All businesses that require a fire to run should get a Fire and Safety Certificate. An outside catering business can only get this certificate if it has all the necessary safety equipment. One of these is a fire extinguisher. Remember to buy it when purchasing your catering business equipment. 

7. Consider the Cost of Beginning an Outside Catering Business 

Before writing your business plan, take the time to note the total start-up costs of your business. The size of your venture will determine its start-up costs. Additionally, you might spend more money if you have no catering/restaurant equipment. 

But if you intend to purchase some appliances and tools and hire others, you might spend slightly less. Approximately, you need around Ksh. 150,000 to Ksh. 200,000 to begin a small outside catering shop

For instance, you will spend about Ksh. 100,000 to buy catering appliances. Business licenses require around Ksh. 15,000 but the cost can be higher or lower in some Kenyan counties. You must also allocate money to foodstuffs and marketing.

8. Create a Recruitment Strategy

Outside Catering enterprises expand quickly when the conditions are favorable. Thus, starting alone does not mean you will stay that way forever. As you run your shop daily, you will figure out the type of employees you should hire. 

Recruiting workers requires a strategy that addresses their welfare, including salary, working hours, wages, payroll, etc. There is no need to hire a personnel manager when starting. Trust in your ability to attract and hire the best candidates.

How to Make Higher Profits From an Outside Catering Business

Now you understand how to start outside catering business in Kenya. Perhaps you are wondering about the profitability of this venture. Your business will make higher profits if you employ an effective marketing strategy. 

Some key marketing strategies to consider for your outside catering business include:

  • Branding and positioning: Develop a strong brand identity that reflects your catering business’s personality and values. Your brand should convey professionalism, quality, and reliability.
  • Email marketing: Build an email list by offering promotions, discounts, or exclusive content in exchange for email addresses. Send out regular newsletters with updates, event ideas, and special offers to keep your audience engaged.
  • Online presence: Create a professional website that showcases your services, menu options, and previous work (if applicable). Ensure it’s mobile-friendly and optimized for search engines (SEO). Additionally, establish a strong presence on social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). Share high-quality photos of your dishes, client testimonials, and behind-the-scenes content.
  • Content marketing: Start a blog on your website. Share tips on event planning, catering trends, and related topics. This not only demonstrates your expertise but also improves SEO.

Employing these marketing strategies will see you profit more from your business by attracting more leads. A small catering company could make around Ksh.10,000 or more from one client. However, the enterprise will make much more if you increase brand awareness via marketing.