Are you looking to form a successful self-help group in Kenya? First, you need to have information on the rules of running these groups, know types of groups you can form and guidance on writing a constitution for your group.

Read along to understand the requirements and benefits of registering a self-help group in Kenya. These can also be helpful tips for your group members and your friends who want to start or get more value from their group.

What is a self-help group?

A Self-Help Group (SHG) is formed when a group of people from the same social and economic background come together to create opportunities and to improve their standards of living. The group can help to acquire skills, assets for the community such as schools, health facilities, and roads, and to create income-generating opportunities for members. Groups can engage in businesses such as selling groceries, weaving, tailoring, running retail shops and farming projects such as poultry and dairy keeping. 

What are common characteristics of self-help groups in Kenya?

  1. Joining a self-help group is voluntary and FREE.
  2. You participate in income generating activities and receive loans from the group as a member.  
  3. Groups have goals that are related to the needs of the members and are known and agreed on by all members.
  4. Members of a group prepare guidelines on how to operate and manage their group.
  5. Group decisions are democratic -The groups’ officials (Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary, Vice Secretary and Treasurer) are elected regularly by members.
  6. Members have clear roles and contribute by sharing their resources to the group.

Types of self-help groups you can register in Kenya.

Members of a SHG are usually from the same social and economic background. Members come together to pool resources and help each other out. All members of a SHG need to share in the group’s mission, vision, and objectives to ensure that the group achieves its desired goals. This makes it easy for the group to achieve its desired goals. 

In Kenya, you can register several types of self-help groups such as:

  • Youth groups
  • Women groups
  • Men’s groups
  • Mixed groups (members are both men and women) 
  • Groups for Persons with Disabilities 
  • Older persons’ groups 
  • Community Project Groups
  • Integrated Refugee Groups 

 Why should you register a self-help group?

There are many benefits of registering a SHG. These include:

  • The group will acquire legal status to operate in Kenya.  
  • The SHG can own properties on behalf of its members. 
  • It helps groups to meet requirements for running a bank account in the group’s name.
  • Registration helps groups to access credit services such as loans from banks and microfinance institutions. 
  • Members of a SHG are responsible for the group’s financial decisions. 

Requirements for registering a self-help group in Kenya.

For the government of Kenya to register a group, it must meet these requirements:

  1. Have at least ten people (aged 18-years and above) who are actively participating in the group’s activities. 
  2. Members should have a common reason for setting up the group.
  3. All members must participate in a pre-registration training held by the Social Development Office (SDO) at the Sub-County level.
  4. Have a constitution prepared by the people in the group.
  5. The group’s name, its mission, goals, and objectives should be in the group constitution.
  6. Hold elections for people in charge of the group.
  7. Have minutes of the meeting at which people in the group agreed to register the group.
  8. Have a list of all the people in the group, signed, with their name/position/Identification Document (ID) number and signatures.
  9. The required ID for refugees and asylum seekers is their Refugee ID number.
  10. Copies of members’ identification (Refugee ID).
  11. Pay the group’s registration fee of KES 1,000/- at the registration office.

For integrated refugee groups, include:

  • The group’s training report from the Directorate of Social Development
  • A verification report from the Department of Refugee Services (DRS). This report is issued to the group after the DRS does a background check on the group. 

Guide for writing a constitution for a self-help group in Kenya

A constitution is one of the important requirements when registering a group in Kenya. The group’s constitution should have the following components: 

Article 1: The group’s name, its contact details and its physical location.

Article 2: Objectives –State the objectives/goals of the group. 

Article 3: Membership - Indicate the requirements for one to be a member, resignation, reinstatement (re-joining the group) and the next of kin of the groups’ members. 

Article 4: Group officials – list the officials of the group indicating their name and titles. The most important roles are those of the Chairperson, Vice-chairperson, Secretary, Vice-secretary and Treasurer.

Article 5: Functions of the officials - Indicate the roles and responsibilities of each official so that every official understands what their role involves. 

Article 6: Tenure of officials - Indicate how long the officials will hold their positions.   

Article 7: Finances - Indicate the sources, management, and utilization of the group’s funds.

Article 8: Meetings - Indicate the type of meetings and the minimum number of people needed for the meetings to take place.  

Article 9: Elections - Indicate how the group’s officials will be elected for example, secret ballot, lining up, show of hands, acclamation, etc. 

Article 10: Record keeping–Indicate the group records that will be kept and managed.

Article 11: Discipline - Indicate the group’s rules and the disciplinary actions that will be taken if these rules are broken.

Article 12: Amendment of the constitution – indicate the process to be followed when making any changes to the group’s constitution. 

Article 13: Audit - Indicate the procedures and frequency for carrying out audits of the group’s activities and finances.  

Article 14: Dispute resolution - Indicate methods of reporting disputes and mechanisms for resolving the disputes and appoint a mediator that will be used by the group. 

Article 15: Dissolution of group - Indicate the procedures to be followed to dissolve the group, and how properties and liabilities or debts/loans will be handled. 

Article 16: Adoption of constitution – Indicate the procedures for the acceptance of the group’s constitution, for example through a meeting.

Office Locations and contacts 

The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, State Department for Social Protection is housed at Social Security House (NSSF) on Bishops Road, opposite the Department of Civil Registration and ACK Guest House in Nairobi. The office can be reached through:

  • Phone number: +254 2729800
  • Email: or  
  • website:

Integrated refugee groups are supported by agencies to register their self-help groups. These are:

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)NRC Compound, next to UNHCR Compound.

Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA) Field Office Number: 0703503744

NRC Kakuma Toll Free Number: 088721788

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

1. Pangani Livelihood Resource Center (LRC)- KCDF House, 2nd Floor, Chai Road

2. Kawangware Livelihood Resource Center (LRC) – 1st Floor, Kivuli Center, Kabiria, next to Mtaani Radio

3. Rongai Livelihood Resource Center (LRC) – Tyme Arcade, 4th Floor, Magadi Road, Barclays area.

Danish Refugee Council (DRC) PCEA Rev. Kareri, Eastleigh Field Office   
HIAS Kenya  HIAS Mimosa- Mbaruk Road, Off Muchai Drive, Off Ngong Road  
Refuge Point  Titan Complex 2nd floor Chaka Rd, Hurlingham Nairobi   

If you have any questions, please write to us via the  Julisha.Info Facebook page or send us a message on  WhatsApp or SMS to +254110601820 Monday through Friday from 08:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.