Sunday, October 5, 2008

How to Start an NGO in Ghana

One of the main goals I had in going to Ghana was to make the organization official in Ghana. We already had our 501(c)3 but were not registered in Ghana at all. In case you were wondering what is involved in the process, I will tell you what I did this summer.

1. Find an auditor.

2. Go to the Register General's Office. Buy a form, make 4 copies, pay your registration fee, give a letter from your auditor. Wait several months, unless you have a connection, in which case, wait two weeks or so and get your certificate!

3. Go to the Social Welfare Office. Bring a slew of documents including (but not a comprehensive list) your registration certificate, articles of incorporation, the Social Welfare application form, 501(c)3 copy (if affiliated with US nonprofit), letter from an auditor, and a memorandum of understanding between your nonprofit and the government of Ghana. We were also asked to bring letters from the Ministry of Education. Wait another few weeks, pay your fee (why is it that nonprofits have to pay exorbitant fees to the government when they are in fact stepping in and saving the government money by doing things the government is failing to do?), and receive your Social Welfare Registration.

4. Once you have your Social Welfare registration, you are free to begin applying for tax exemptions. In Ghana, these are not given unless the organization is either education or health related. Solomon and I have had quite the headache trying to convince the government that this is an educational venture. However, since we are not directly importing books or other clearly educational goods, we have been fighting tooth and nail for our import duty exemptions. The Ministry of Finance tells us there is no way for us to prove the lights are going to children and not being sold. This step is by far the hardest because you have to apply through the Ministry of Finance, who then sends you to Customs and the VAT (value added tax) for consideration, who then sends it back for approval. We are still fighting for this one.

5. Hire yourself a country director. We were very lucky to have a very good candidate fall right in front of us. To do this, you need to register your country director officially with the organization, and go to the SSNIT (Social Security Office) to fill out another form. Careful when setting the employee's base salary... the organization is required to pay 12% to SSNIT and the employee 5%.

I probably missed a few steps, because this was an extremely long and drawn out process, but since it happened within the three months I was there even with all the other things we were doing, I'd say it's relatively easy in Ghana. It is not very hard to obtain the status, but it does take some waiting time.


The Evangelist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Evangelist said...

Hey there!

This is incredibly helpful because I am interested in starting a small nonprofit in Accra and will arrive in seven weeks!

I posted this on my blog and linked back to the original post. I hope this is okay with you. If not, I will happily remove it on request.


Mac said...

Bingo! When I'm fully ready to take off with that nonprofit I've been working on, I guess I know just where to look for an experienced hand.

Live said...

I hope you get things done now that you have the papers with stamps, a Country Director, staff - and a very good idea! Ghana really need Playgrounds !Good Luck with your project ! Do go to Wa and the villages in The Upper West Region too. Children there need some joy.

Shivani said...


This post is very helpful because my friend and I are trying to establish an NGO in Ghana before extending it to other regions of Africa. I am curious as to how you were able to find the auditor in Ghana and how much the fees were, exactly, in order to the get the Social Welfare registration with the govt.

Thanks and good luck with continuing this awesome endeavor,


random said...

Helpful to see what you have done. I'm looking for a portfolio project or internship opportunity with an NGO in Ghana. My area of study is New Media, emphasis is cinematography. Curious to know the outcome of the BYU film team, was it helpful to the cause?


gertrude amuzu said...

Because I grew up in Germany, then came to Ghana here 10 years ago, I was able to experience both sides. Living with them gave me a close look into the lives and even behavior of children living in Africa, for most of them is not just enough to build playgrounds for them, you have to even teach them how to play. Well I will be very happy to have a chat with you about your wonderful project, I'm trying to register an ngo myself, and landed here. Here is my number 0548755000, my name is gertrude. Call me up to share experiences. Bye