What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Setting up a Non-Profit in Sierra Leone

So I've done a decent amount of research on setting up a non-profit here in the US and there is of course a great deal of information on it.  It isn't going to be difficult at all.  Incorporate, write the articles of incorporation and bylaws, set a board, apply for tax exempt status, etc.  No big deal.

Surprise surprise!!  Seems to be a bit more challenging in Sierra Leone!!  Actually, I must admit that it was almost just as easy to get information on Sierra Leone as on the US, until the one file I needed couldn't open.  The International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL) has a nice little library on Sierra Leone, and I later found a bit more dated one at doingbusiness.org.  But of course the one perfect document I need the Revised Non-Governmental Organizations Policy Regulations from 2009 has some problem with the file and it won't open.  So it looks like the initial cursory searches are going to need to be expanded upon.  Of course, not living in Sierra Leone makes it all a bit more difficult as well.  One week on the ground and these things would be simple.  But it is a good idea to know what the parameters of doing business there are like, which I have read some legalese about in terms of registering a business (fun reading!).

Ease of... Doing Business 2010 rank Doing Business 2009 rank Change in rank
Doing Business 148 156 8
Starting a Business 58 58 0
Dealing with Construction Permits 171 168 -3
Employing Workers 166 167 1
Registering Property 175 165 -10
Getting Credit 127 147 20
Protecting Investors 27 53 26
Paying Taxes 161 162 1
Trading Across Borders 137 135 -2
Enforcing Contracts 144 144 0
Closing a Business 147 147 0

I've gotten the constitution of the country, and lots of stuff on doing business there.  Amazing that if you want to start up a limited Liability Company to start a profit making business you can, but non-profits seem to get no literature.  Money! Money! Money!  Go figure, where are all the self-less people of the world!?!?  It seems that the country is one of the hardest countries in the world to do business in.  This is of course not much of a surprise.  If it was simple to do business there, everyone would and there would be little need for more!!  And what fun would that be?!  (or perhaps I should say, but then would there be as much need for assistance?)

However, these ease of business indicators are set up by people focused on making money, not on providing for the local populace.  Measures of things like 'ease of employing workers' are usually measuring how quickly and easily you can hire and fire workers, and whether employees have much (if any) rights to unemployment compensation or to unionize. These are of course things that typical for-profit employers don't want, but an employer looking out for the local populations welfare as the top priority do not only not hamstring them, but actually embrace.  So these figures are not all bad.  They just raise the challenges.

I put in an email regarding that document, and hope that the ICNL will be able to fix the problem they have with their document.  The form say 7 days for a response, but I'm not gonna hold my breath and keep looking.  I obviously can't afford to pay for anything.  Fact of the matter is that there will not be much I can do about this type of intelligence until I get to the point where I am speaking to people in country or on the ground there.  A great deal of things keep coming back to finishing my NGO list for prospective cooperation and contacts.  Will be working a bit this evening on the Non-Profit set up in the US, we'll see how that goes...

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