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Financing, investment and government support

Government support

Does the government provide any incentives or support programmes to promote fintech innovation in your jurisdiction (eg, tax incentives, grants and regulatory sandboxes)?

Government support has largely been limited to policy formulation and legislative initiatives. Fintech start-ups mostly receive funding from the private (local and foreign) sector. There is no tax incentive specifically supporting fintech enterprises.

Has the government concluded any international cooperation agreements to promote and facilitate the cross-border expansion of fintech businesses?

The Capital Markets Authority of Kenya and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission have signed a cooperation agreement that aims at promoting innovation in financial services in their respective markets.

Financing and investment

What private financing and investment schemes are available and commonly used for fintech start-ups in your jurisdiction?

Start-ups normally receive funding from foreign and local investors to fund their operations.

Ancillary issues

IP rights

What forms of IP protection are available for fintech innovations?

Kenya is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation and has assented to various international treaties, including the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks. Locally, IP-related laws are governed by the Constitution of Kenya and the following enabling statutes:

  • the Copyright Act to protect copyrights;
  • the Trademarks Act to protect trademarks; and
  • the Industrial Property Act to protect patents, industrial designs and utility models.

What rules govern the ownership of IP rights to fintech innovations?

There are no specific rules governing the ownership of IP rights to fintech innovations.

General IP rules apply:

  • the ownership of copyright lies with the fixator of the content, or the person on behalf of whom a work is fixed;
  • the ownership of a trademark lies with the entity or person offering the service or goods; and
  • the ownership of industrial property lies with individual inventors or the enterprise on whose behalf the industrial property was developed.

Immigration

What immigration schemes are available for fintech businesses to recruit skilled staff from abroad? Are there any special regimes specific to the tech or financial sector?

There is no special scheme for recruiting special skills for fintech. Any person can apply under the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act for a work permit.

What immigration schemes are available for foreign investors and entrepreneurs wishing to invest in or establish a fintech business in your jurisdiction?

Currently, there are no specific laws or arrangements for fintech foreign investors in Kenya. Investors and employees who are non-citizens are required to obtain a work permit from the Department of Immigration. Section 3 of the Foreign Investment Protection Act (Cap 518) provides that a foreign national who proposes to invest foreign assets in Kenya may apply to the minister for a certificate that the enterprise in which the assets are proposed to be invested is an approved enterprise. The minister has discretion to license the applicant if he or she is satisfied that the enterprise “would further the economic development of, or would be of benefit to Kenya”.

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