13 steps out; A guideline to exporting your product

By Sylvester Mwaringa

A glance at the Kenyan shilling graph and the idea of investing in other countries looks really attractive.

As at this article’s write-up, the Shilling is at the lowest it has been over the past five years and there is little light in sight at the end of this dipping tunnel.

The export game is as dynamic as any other with its own advantages and perks.

On average, there is increased profits as sales grow, risk mitigation through market diversification, increased competitiveness and market share; economies of scale and employees earn more than in non-exporting firms. It’s not all rosy as there are macro factors such as product adaptation, political disruptions and currency fluctuations that sometimes get under our skin but are beyond our change-reach.

Expansion into foreign markets through exports is nonetheless important for securing your success as an international business, as well as in bolstering your business during domestic downturns. Small, medium and large businesses all have the amazing opportunity to expand internationally, however there are several steps that must be taken to ensure that your company is ready for export.

A recent thread by Twitter user @aziz_mire sheds a light on the path one can take to enroll your produce’s journey to export:


A quick visit to the International Trade Administration’s website would be the first stop in order to classify your products as per the Harmonized System (HS) codes. This is a standardized numerical method of classifying traded products used by customs authorities globally to assess duties. Classify your product into the best-fit category for international identification.

Visit the Export Promotion & Branding Agency – A visit to Kenya’s Export Promotion & Branding Agency (KePROBA) is mandatory for inquiries into the licensing & requirements to export your product. They also provide an indispensable guide that equips both existing and new exporters with the skills and advice to help them pierce and expand their export business.

Register with the Chamber of Commerce – The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) leads international business delegations while helping you connect with opportunities through international trade affairs. They provide guidance through their research studies & published journals into commercial and industrial matters. Membership registration should connect you with local exporters with similar products and new clients.

If your product has an Association, join it for insider information. E.g. the Horticultural Society of Kenya. They have tips for the most efficient ways to navigate foreign markets and get the maximum value for your product.

Get a reliable logistics & clearing & forwarding partner – This can be as simple as a courier service like FedEx for scarves or a full container export facilitation firm like Jihan Freighters.

Recheck all the requirements with them to ensure you meet the standard for export

Check the website of your target country to familiarize yourself with their export and trade regulations. – A simple Google search like “How to Export to the US” will yield a wealth of information.

Train on the KenTrade system in your city. It’s a short course at a small fee.

Since each export consignment requires multiple permits & documentation such as Certificate of Origin, the KenTrade System allows you to apply & promptly get everything from a single portal.

Make Sure your warehouse/factory is fully compliant & pay attention to quality. This involves ensuring safety, cleanliness and proper packaging procedures as per the export guidelines. E.g. for food-related produce like Avocado, there is a mandatory premise inspection by the Public Health Service (PHS) to ensure food hygiene, it has a valid medical certificate, and protective sanitary & clothing equipment.

You can get clients by liasoning with the Chamber of Commerce, Brand Kenya, attending trade fairs, online platforms like Alibaba & friends & family abroad.

Once you have a client, follow proper procedure for getting an order. Advance payment or LC is best for business.

Always retain a sample you send to the client, to ensure a consistency in product quality delivery.

When preparing a consignment, be keen on the agreed terms & regulations with the client & get the right guidance from related exporters in your line of produce.

In order to increase your visibility and credibility, have a good media presence. Your online presence is the one way clients who can’t visit your physical base of operation, can actively interact with the products they want to buy.

It is mandatory to check with the related government-bodies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) to assess the taxes, and warehouses and fiscal incentives for value-added export.


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