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Street vendors in Kenya

Country: KenyaPartner: Kensavit


  • Create a national movement out of the many smaller Kenyan organisations who support street traders.
  • Legalise and formalise street trading, providing stability and protection to Kenya’s informal traders.
  • Train and organise street vendors so that they can earn enough to support themselves and be able to lobby government.


  • Through KENASVIT's advocacy the Micro and Small Enterprises Bill has been introduced into the Kenyan parliament.
  • Numerous traders who previously worked on the street have been given decent trading spaces in markets with facilities and services.
  • Thousands of street vendors no longer have to pay levies to trade and have been given favourable market stalls.

The facts

  • Street vending is illegal in Kenya, which means that the millions of people who rely on it for an income do not have access to any legal protection.
  • There are nearly a quarter of a million informal traders in Kenya.

The Kenya National Alliance of Street Vendors and Informal Traders (KENASVIT) is an umbrella organisation of associations representing urban street vendors and informal traders. Organising street vendors at a national level is new in Kenya, though local organisations have been around for some time. These groups, 180 of which are members of KENASVIT, empower and provide stability to the millions of street vendors who currently work illegally in urban areas around Kenya.

Informal traders in Kenya are in desperate need of formal protection. They are exposed to constant threats and attacks from local authorities in almost all urban centres. The absence of a proper regulatory framework has been contributing to the current state of conflict leading to sporadic disputes sometimes even resulting in the tragic loss of life. KENASVIT works to ensure the welfare of its members, and to protect them from government harassment. Traders need recognition and protection under the law, and KENASVIT is pushing for legislation that will legalise street vending.

KENASVIT has been advocating for the Micro and Small Enterprises Bill, which has now been read in the Kenyan parliament. The bill will legalise street vending and offer important legal protection to the millions of informal traders in the country.

The organisation also aims to transform street vendors' operations into more formal small businesses, with all the protection that those afford. They organise and empower informal workers, offering them business training and access to credit in order to improve their businesses. They advocate for street vendors at all levels of government, lobbying for favourable policies and legislation.

Since its formation in 2005, KENASVIT has brought about huge improvements in the lives of street vendors, both at a national level such as through the lobbying for the Micro and Small Enterprises Bill, to a local level such as getting sanitation and water provided in markets. 

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War on Want gratefully acknowledges funding for this partner from the Civil Society Challenge Fund of the UK government's Department for International Development

For the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data and documents for this DFID funding see here.

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Tags: informal economy | kenya | overseas work | programmes | right to the city | vendors