Working in Kenya

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working in KenyaKenya has one of the strongest economies in Africa with strong agricultural, manufacturing and real estate sectors. However, the economic reality on the ground when it comes to securing a job is much tougher for locals. 

Unemployment levels remain very high today, and the government is protective of jobs that Kenyans can fill; thus, working in Kenya can prove difficult for expats that have not secured a job prior to arrival.
That said, Kenya, and especially Nairobi, is a major business hub in eastern Africa, and several multinational companies have set up shop there, including BASF, General Electric, Nokia, Coca-Cola, Toyota and SAB Miller. However, even with the presence of these branches, the country lacks the financial and business draw that encourages the same level of immigration found in other, more attractive expat destinations. Most expats who work for these multi-national corporations move to Kenya on an intra-company transfer, where they have previously been working for the company in their home country.

Industry sectors most likely to employ foreigners include tourism, journalism, development, and teaching. 

There are many volunteer jobs in Kenya with government and NGO organisations. The country is a regional hub and headquarters for not-for-profit organisations and serves as the adminstrative centre for the operations of aid organisations in East Africa, especially for matters related to Somalia and Sudan.  For this reason, many expats working in Kenya find themselves in teaching or development positions, regardless of their skill-set.

Furtheremore, the United Nations maintains a number of offices in Nairobi. The Kenyan capital is also home to a number of foreign embassies, which employ many expats. 

Visa and work permits for Kenya

Those moving to Kenya to take up employment will find that, generally, it is the responsibility of the employer to secure the necessary visa for Kenya. Work permits are only granted to foreigners if the company in Kenya can prove a Kenyan citizen can’t adequately fill the position. This stipulation can be difficult to prove, and Kenya is known for protecting its workforce.

On the whole, expats rarely show up in Kenya looking for a job, but are instead relocated there or hired from overseas by a company familiar with the visa process.

It can be assumed that if a company is hiring from overseas they have already gone through the process of warranting foreign employment, and expats will not need to be involved in proving their merit to the government.

Self-employed expats have more difficulty obtaining a work visa for Kenya, as they have to go through the entire process on their own. The red tape that must be unravelled is notoriously time-consuming and expensive.

Volunteers and employees of aid agencies in Kenya should have their organisations arrange for their visa. Expats creating their own business in Kenya have to secure licenses and demonstrate earning potential in order to receive a work and business permit.

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