Earn money in Kenya: Top 5 ways [ranked worst to best]

Early in my financial freedom journey, I used to focus on how much I was making rather than how I earn money in Kenya!

Later on, I learnt this was a big mistake and luckily corrected course before it was too late. This resulted in being able to achieve financial freedom in my early 30s. I was also able take a sabbatical from work for the past year!

Hopefully, it is not too late to share this knowledge and unlock the same for you.

So, the first BIG truth is that not all income sources are equal in Kenya!

You maybe earning the wrong type of income all this time! Or, are not working towards converting it to a more preferable type of income.

The first thing to consider about how you earn your money is how it is taxed.

Earn Money in Kenya infographic

Top 5 ways to earn money in Kenya

I have ranked the top 5 ways to earn money in Kenya from worst to best below:

5. Employment income

Unfortunately, from a taxation point of view, this is the least optimal way to earn money in Kenya.

As long as you earn more than Kshs 32,333 per month, you will be taxed at 30%.

Here is an awesome summary on the taxation of employment income in Kenya

Taxable income per month (Kshs)Tax rate
First 24,00010%
Next 8,33325%
Any amount over 32,33330%
Taxable income in Kenya: What rate will be charged?

If you want more info, including the allowable deductions to reduce the above burden, the KRA PAYE article is a great place to start.

The other big problem with employment income is you are trading your time for money.

Don’t worry though, bookmark this blog and join the Telegram Personal Finance Lessons channel so as to be notified when I publish the below relevant articles for this type of income:

  • How to value your time in Kenya [and use the number to buy time freedom] …Coming soon
  • How to use employment income to achieve financial freedom in Kenya …Coming soon
  • How to stop being a H.E.N.R.Y in Kenya [High Earning Not Yet Rich] …Coming soon
  • How to automate your boring work tasks in Kenya [and create time for fun] …Coming soon
  • 6 Books that helped me achieve financial freedom in Kenya …Coming soon

4. Business income

Next on the list is the income you make from your business or side hustles in Kenya.

This type of income is no better when it comes to the tax rate (still 30%). However, where it shines is that there are more allowable deductions compared to employment income. Those deductions especially where the business or side hustle in Kenya is set up as a company, can significantly reduce the amount of tax you end up paying.

Further, unlike employment income where you get paid for your time, here you have the potential to make money using other people’s time or via systems set up.

Below are some relevant articles to this type of income in Kenya:

  • How to setup a 4-Hour Workweek business in Kenya …Coming soon
  • Top tools to automate your business in Kenya …Coming soon
  • How to set up a company in Kenya [step by step guidance] …Coming soon
  • How to make money online Kenya [top 5 proven ways] …Coming soon
  • 11 side hustles in Kenya [everyone should have at least 2 of these!] …Coming soon

3. Interest income

Now we are getting to the more optimal ways of making money in Kenya.

The withholding tax on interest income in Kenya is 15%. This is much better than the tax rate (30%) for employment or business income above!

Further, the 15% withholding tax is final when it relates to qualifying interest. That means, in such a case, you won’t pay any more tax on the interest earned other than the 15% already withheld at source!

Finally, unlike the two sources above, interest is one of the easiest way to earn passive income in Kenya. It is also relatively low risk compared to other options in this list.

Here are examples of investments that earn interest income in Kenya:

  • Money Market Funds
  • Bonds
  • Sacco deposits
  • Fixed income or Balanced funds
  • Fixed deposits
  • Bank savings accounts

Below are some relevant articles for this type of income in Kenya:

If you’d rather watch a video lesson:

2. Dividend income

Dividends are my favorite way to earn money in Kenya! Firstly, the withholding tax on dividends in Kenya is 5% which is very favorable. Again, as noted with qualifying interest above, the withholding tax on qualifying dividends in Kenya is FINAL!

Secondly, dividends are an excellent way to earn passive income in Kenya. They also come with the added benefit of possible capital gains that can further grow your wealth in Kenya!

Here are examples of investments that earn dividends in Kenya:

  • Shares or stocks listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)
  • Sacco share capital
  • Equity funds
  • Global index funds

Below are some relevant articles on dividend income in Kenya:

If you are more into video lessons, see the below growing playlist on how to invest with shares in Kenya:

Subscribe to the YouTube Channel for more video tutorials.

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1. Capital gain income

Personally, I don’t chase after capital gains as a way to earn money in Kenya. This is because there is no cashflow unless you sell the underlying asset (called realizing the capital gains). Further, the value of the underlying asset can fluctuate before you sell hence wiping out any paper gains.

That said, I enjoy realized capital gains as much as the next person!

Capital gains are also taxed favorably. For example, the net gains on sale of property or land are taxed at a rate of 5%. This is also a FINAL tax! That means the capital gain income is not subject to further taxation after payment of the 5%.

Other forms of capital gains such as from investing in listed shares in the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), currently enjoy tax exemption. Hence, they are not taxed!

Below are some relevant articles for this type of income in Kenya:

  • Why I stopped buying land in Kenya …Coming soon

Lessons on how to earn money in Kenya

You hopefully noticed that the income sources that are active in nature are taxed unfavorably. On the other hand, those that are earned passively, enjoy better tax rates.

This is a paradox when it comes to ways to earn money in Kenya. That you pay less taxes for less effort and without sacrificing your most important asset. TIME!

It is such a disservice that no one teaches this in school! I am not saying we should all leave our jobs, businesses or side hustles in Kenya. What I learnt is that you NEED to convert income from these sources to the more passive and favorably taxed options.

That means saving a part of your employment or business income and investing in passive incomes such as interest and dividends. This will set you on a path where your money works for you and ultimately pays for your expenses i.e. financial freedom.

Further, when you no longer have time or health or a job/business to actively pay for your expenses, these passive incomes will support your lifestyle.

Here are a 3 quotes that really changed how I think about money:

Rich people have money. Wealthy people have time.

Shane Parrish

When you’re young you have Time and Health but no Money. When you get older you have Money and Health but no Time. And later when you finally have Time and Money, you no longer have Health/Energy.

Unknown

The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want, is priceless. It is the highest dividend money pays.

Morgan Housel

There are other ways to earn passive income in Kenya. However, they need upfront effort but once set up, they are very low maintenance. That is a topic for next time.

Here are some relevant articles for the section above:

  • 9 proven ways to earn passive income in Kenya…Coming soon
  • How to value your time in Kenya [and use the number to buy time freedom] …Coming soon
  • 6 Books that helped me achieve financial freedom in Kenya …Coming soon
  • How to make money online Kenya [practical step by step guide]

Bookmark this page! I will update it with new insights on how to make money in Kenya and hopefully grow this to an over 5,000 word go-to-resource on how to earn money in Kenya. What I can promise you is, next month when you read this it will probably be longer and with new insights 🙂

If you would like me to prioritize any of the topics marked as “coming soon” above, vote for it by leaving a comment with the title of the topic and the reason why. The topic with the most requests in the comment section will be the next in my queue.

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Please note the above information is intended for a general audience and is based on my own experience and knowledge. Please consult with a registered tax professional for any decisions that related to your own personal circumstances.

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2 Comments

  1. Christopher says:

    Hi Nash.

    I would like to invest in Sanlam MMF. How can I contact you?