Last Updated:

How to Start a Profitable M-Pesa Business in Kenya

Daisy Neema
Daisy Neema SME

M-Pesa is a mobile-based money transfer platform launched in March 2007. Since then, many people have been starting M-Pesa businesses. The M-Pesa business is becoming increasingly popular in Kenya due to high number of people subscribed. M-Pesa shops profitable and relatively easy to start. You can decide to operate an M-Pesa shop as your main business, or operate it as a part time business.

Daily operations of an M-Pesa outlet includes depositing cash into accounts, registering new M-Pesa users, and processing cash withdrawals for customers. 

Read more: Lucrative business ideas to start in Kenya. 

What You Need to Know Before Starting an M-Pesa Business 

There are two categories in which you can operate an M-Pesa outlet.

1. As an Agent /Aggregator

Operating as an agent is more profitable since you will go through the entire registration process. Safaricom pays M-pesa agents directly. They are responsible for recruiting sub-agents, helping sub-agents meet operation requirements laid out by Safaricom, and managing several tills.

Requirements for Starting M-Pesa Agent Business 

The following are the requirements for starting an M-Pesa agent business.

  • You need to register your M-pesa business under a registered Limited Company. The company should have been operating for at least six months.  
  • You must have a minimum number of three outlets that are operating under a registered limited company.
  • You need to make an initial deposit float of Ksh 100,000. You must also ensure that you maintain the same amount in all outlets.  
  • Make sure to operate those M-pesa businesses in different counties.
  • You must provide Safaricom with business permits for each of the outlets to get an M-Pesa line, VAT and tax certificates, police clearance certificates, and a banking license from a reputable financial institution.
  • You will then need to fill in the M-Pesa agent head office application form and the M-Pesa agent store application form.

Upon submission of all forms and meeting all requirements, you will be given a till number to use.

Also Read: How to start soap making business

2. As a Sub-dealer/ sub-agent

It is affordable to operate as a sub-agent than an aggregator. M-Pesa sub-agents are the most popular and are distributed all over the country. To operate a sub-agent M-Pesa business, you need to work under a licensed Safaricom Agent.

It is the work of the agent to provide the sub-agent with a till for transactions. Sub-agents get 80% commission while the agent gets 20% commission sent directly by Safaricom. M-Pesa sub-agents need to maintain a minimum float of Ksh. 30,000.

How M-Pesa Sub-Agent shops Should Work

  • M-Pesa agents recruit sub-agents to work under them, but their lines are aggregated (directly registered by Safaricom).
  • The agent needs to provide the sub-agent with a till to carry out M-Pesa transactions.
  • Sub-agents then need to get store management tills used to manage the float. Sub-agents can get them at KCB bank.

However, many M-Pesa agents do not follow the due process. The agents fail to register sub-agents with Safaricom. Instead, they recruit them as their employees. As such, the agents receive earnings on behalf of the sub-agents. They then determine how much to pay them. The agents pay sub-agents between 60%-70% commission, while Safaricom requires them to to pay 80% commission.

Also Read: How to start a retail shop in Kenya

Disadvantages of Operating M-Pesa Sub-Agent

  • M-Pesa agents decide what float they want to maintain per sub-agent store.
  • Sub-agents lose control over the float since the agent manages it.
  • Violation of Safaricom operational requirements by an M-pesa agent will have his till and that of the sub agents locked. 

How to Run a Successful M-Pesa Business

Being highly profitable, the M-Pesa business is very competitive. Therefore, you need to come up with excellent strategies to stand out and maximize your profits. It would help if you looked out for the following things.


Since the business is highly competitive, your success or failure will depend on where your shop is located. It will help if your M-Pesa shop is situated where there is high human traffic.

Robbers and thieves target M-Pesa businesses. You need to be very careful while dealing with your customers. Make sure you can differentiate between fake and genuine notes while transacting.

Always Have Enough Cash

If you want to have a successful M-Pesa business, make sure you have enough float in your phone. You can lose many customers when they visit your shop and you do not have enough money. 


To run a successful M-Pesa business, you must stand out amongst your competitors. M-pesa business is highly competitive. You must also be compliant with Safaricom rules and regulations. Failure to do so, your M-Pesa line will be suspended and your float locked.

Also Read: How to start a cosmetics business in Kenya