5 Steps To Import Goods From China To Your Small Business in Kenya

Kuza Kenya

Whether you are planning to diversify your business or leverage cheaper-made products, importing from China to Kenya can be an important ingredient in your small business. But before you rush to import your first batch of products there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Here are some simple business tips to guide you through the process of identifying marketable products and importing them to your small business store here in East Africa.

Step 1: Identify What To Import



As with any other investment project you may be trying, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you are going to be doing before going into it. Find some good products which can attract demand locally.

Examples sanitary wares, plumbing fittings, electrical fittings, tiles, electronics and cheap jewelry. Consult the customs office to make sure the products you are planning to import are acceptable under Kenyan laws.

Also, make sure you have an active KRA pin. If you don’t have one visit the KRA website and obtain one. This will help a lot during the custom clearance process once your goods arrive in the country.

Step 2: Find a Good Suppliers

Sites such as or have an excellent database of Chinese Manufacturers. Here you will find many suppliers supplying different product categories.

It is however advisable to double check on the credentials of your chosen supplier just to make sure you are getting the right deal. To avoid scams or cases where poor quality products are supplied take the following precautions:

  • Get contacts of one of the Kenyans living in China. These might be helpful in locating the right suppliers and spot checking quality of your products.
  • Before you order in bulk, request the supplier to send you a sample of the product. Normally, samples are given out free of charge but you may have to pay for freight charges (about $50 or Ksh4,500).

Step 3: Determine How Much You’re Going to Spend

Since you are importing to re-sell, it is important that before you place the order you get your math right. Apart from paying the supplier for the goods, you will be required to pay for freight, clearing, duty fee, inspection fee among other charges.

A simple formula for determining how much you’re going to spend on the whole process is to multiply the manufacturer’s price with 1.6. The answer will be the total amount you’ll spend and with this figure, you can now predict your profit even before you import the products.


If you are importing a bunch of watches that cost Ksh50,000 in total all you need to do is to multiply 50,000×1.6=Ksh80,000. So Ksh80,000 is roughly the amount you need to cater for all expenses along the way.

If you are satisfied with the cost and quality of the products (assuming you’ve already received your free sample), go ahead and place an order with your chosen supplier.

Related Article: With Ksh25,000 You Can Start Importing Watches From China

Step 4: Identify the Port of Loading

Mombasa Port

Image: Bollore Africa

Unlike in Kenya where we only have one main port city, China has many outlets. There is Guangzhou, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Ningbo and Dalian among others. In each port city you will find courier companies which can deliver to Kenya and help you clear with the customs offices. Examples being:

  • Salihiya Cargo
  • DHL
  • EMS

Once you have identified your port and potential courier company (and assuming that you have already received the samples and are satisfied with them) you can direct your supplier to drop your goods at your agent’s office in the nearest port city. From that point, you can negotiate with the courier agent on terms of delivery.

Step 5:Collect Your Goods At The Port

If you pay for your goods to be delivered by air, it goes without saying, you will have to collect them from your nearest international airport. On the other hand if you chose delivery by sea, then you have to collect your products from the port of Mombasa.

You will be required to pay custom duties and inspection charges. You can seek the assistance of your clearing and forwarding agent at this juncture to expedite the process of clearing your goods from the port.


Now that your imported goods have arrived in Kenya, all you need to do is make good use of your entrepreneurial skills. With proper pricing and marketing, the sky is the limit for small business importers who source their goods from China.

6 DON’TS When Importing From China To Kenya

(1)Don’t buy in bulk until you have seen the samples and LIKED them

(2)Don’t listen to supplier who try to tell you that they can’t ship samples; they might just be trying to scam you

(3)Don’t pay with your ATM card. Use PayPal at least for the first 6 months until you fully trust your supplier.

(4)Don’t buy counterfeit products.

(5)Don’t buy a lot of items on your first order. You can start off buying 1-5 units at a time until you build up the money to re-invest into your inventory.

Do you have any experience importing products into the country? Would you like to start importing soon? Share your thoughts via the comment box as we’d also like to hear from you.

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