Tourism-conservation enterprises (TCEs), such as eco-lodges, are a relatively new strategy of the African Wildlife Foundation for enhancing community livelihoods and wildlife conservation in wildlife-rich areas outside state-protected areas in sub-Saharan Africa. This article investigates the extent to which TCEs succeed in meeting these objectives by focusing on two enterprises in Kenya: the Sanctuary at Ol Lentille and the Koija Starbeds. Empirical data were gathered between October 2010 and March 2013 through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, literature review and document analysis. Both TCEs demonstrated significant contributions to employment, education, healthcare and security. Compared with the Starbeds, the Sanctuary realised a much larger conservation area and more pronounced biodiversity recovery. The analysis showed that the contribution of TCEs to livelihoods and biodiversity conservation depends on the nature of the partnership arrangement, as well as the local, national and international contexts in which they operate.