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How We Started a Fast Food Business in Nairobi

Daisy Neema
Daisy Neema Kenyan SMEs

Starting a fast food business in Kenya is a lucrative business idea. We started a fast food business to serve people who work in offices. We realized that most office workers do not have much time to go for lunch. As such, we decided to start delivering food to their offices. However, the business is highly competitive, and you need to be unique to succeed. This how to start a fast food business in Kenya from our experience. 

Read also: How to start fresh fruit juice business.  

Conducted a Market Research

It is crucial to conduct market research before starting a food cafe business. Market research will help you identify market opportunities. You can conduct market research by talking to people already in the business. Try to find out what has worked for them before and what hasn't. Our market research entailed interviewing office workers. We would ask them where they get their lunch food from. This helped us to see an opportunity and start delivering food to their offices.  

Attending business networking events will help you meet entrepreneurs with valuable information in the business. Excellent market research will help you identify your target customers, their food preferences. It will also help you identify the best business location.

Read also: How to start a bakery business in Kenya. 

Business Location 

Consider setting up your business in a place with a high number of foot-traffic. Places near institutions like colleges, busy market centers are ideal places to set up your business. For our case, we targeted areas with many offices, while our target customers were office workers. We established the business near a banking hall and this helped us tap on more customers. 

Write a Fast Food Business Plan

Starting a business is like going out on a journey to an unknown destination. A business plan serves as road map for your business. You will need a guide that will help you realize short and long term goals of your fast food business. Outline the startup costs, sources of startup capital, risks, strengths, revenue projections and weaknesses of your business. 

Our business plan helped us to prepare for risks and how we would win since there were other fast food businesses that were in existence. What helped us to win in the competition was our food delivery service to offices. 

Read more: How to write a business plan

Register your Fast Food Business

Business names are important for brand identity and recognition. A business name should be easy to remember and impressive. It should also tell what your business is about.  As such, it is important to come up with an ideal business name. You can seek branding services from a professional to help you come up with a perfect brand name.

Upon choosing a perfect name, you will need to register it so that no one else can use it. You can register your business name online through the eCitizen portal. Fill business registration forms and provide your national ID and KRA PIN for registration.

Read also: How to start eggs and smokie selling business.   

Acquire the Necessary Business Permits and Licenses

Failure to register your food cafe business will land you in trouble with the authorities. You can get a business permits from your County governments offices. You will need the following licenses and permits for  your business. The following are licenses for food business in Kenya. 

1. A single Business Permit

You can obtain a single business permit from the City Council.  A single business permit goes for around Ksh 5,000 annually but it depends with the size of your business. A certificate should be ready within a week upon payment.

2. A Food and Hygiene License

You need to obtain a food safety certificate to ensure that food sold is safe for consumption. A health officer will come to inspect your business premises to ensure that the place is clean and safe for food preparation before they certify your business. You can start your business upon receipt of the certificate. You will also need a Food Handler's certificate. 

3. Fire Safety Certificate

All businesses in Kenya must be Fire Safety Certified. Since your fast food business requires the use of fire when cooking, you need fire extinguishers to manage any fire mishaps. A fire inspector will visit your premise for inspection, and upon compliance, you will be certified and get a Fire Safety Certificate.

Read more: How to start yogurt making business.  

Cost of Starting a Fast Food Restaurant in Kenya

The cost of starting a fast food business depends on your business size and the area of operation. Starting a fast food business in urban areas is expensive. It costed us Ksh 80,000 to start our food cafe.

We started with the following items. 

  • Furniture
  • Refrigerator 
  • Cooker 
  • Microwave 
  • Shelves 
  • Gas cylinders 
  • Utensils
  • Blender 
  • Cooking stoves
  • Jiko

The major setback we faced when starting our food cafe was high prices of food commodities in Nairobi. We resorted to buying the commodities in rural areas and in large scale to cut down on cost. 

We also faced stiff competition from already established food restaurants where some office workers preferred to visit and spend their time. For us, we were mainly targeting food orders to make deliveries. With time, we were able to save enough money and start a restaurant where customers would visit. 

What to Sell in a Fast Food Business 

The location of your business will determine what food you can sell. However, most fast food businesses sell foods like hot dogs, fried chicken, pizza, ice cream, kebab, chips, salads, hamburgers, cakes and soft drinks.

Develop a Marketing Strategy for Your Business

The next thing you need to do is to promote your business. You can decide to distribute pamphlets and brochures for marketing. Visit offices and let them know the services you are offering. You can land  an order to supply food during break time and lunch time.

You can start by offering free delivery services and giving discounts until your business is established. An excellent way to retain your customers and to keep new ones coming is to offer exceptional customer services.

Read also: How to start a gym business in Kenya. 

Final Thoughts

A food cafe business can never run out of customers since people must eat. However, it is a highly competitive industry, and success depends on your hard work and determination. It is also important to try out new recipes to keep your customers happy.