How To Start A Business in Sierra Leone
Starting (Registering) a Business in Sierra Leone
Starting a business, or company, in Sierre Leone takes approximately 12 days as compared to about 46 days for the Sub-Saharan Africa region. This piece outlines the general technical procedures for starting a company in Sierra Leone, according to the Doingbusiness.org database by the World Bank. It includes details and requirements to be in good standing with all relevant agencies beyond the company registrar like social security agencies.
The steps involved in registering a company(Limited Liability Company) in Sierra Leone are:
- Check the uniqueness of the company name and pick up a company registration form.
- Register with the Registrar of Companies at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG).
- Obtain tax clearance with the National Revenue Authority.
- Request a business license with the municipality.
- Register with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
- Make a company seal.
Why business people should give Sierra Leone a second look
Sierra Leone has come a long way since the civil war it experienced between 1991 and 2002. However, while the violence did negatively affect the economy and business environment in terms of the development of physical infrastructure, Sierra Leone’s reputation as a war torn economy remains one of the greatest hurdles for business today.
Advice for doing business in Sierra Leone
“First I would advise foreigners to be patient when doing business in Sierra Leone, as sourcing of local human resources can be very challenging,” explained Akinbinu. “You need patience to train… don’t assume that the way that it works out there in a developed economy is the same way here, and of course you can’t bring everybody from outside. You still need local talent.”
Akinbinu said foreigners looking to do business in Sierra Leone should also be aware that the West African country remains very much a cash economy, where credit and debit cards are not popular.
“In terms of getting business, networking is very important in Sierra Leone,” he continued. “It’s a small society, so you need to network. A lot of deals are clinched at the lunch table or over dinner… so you must be accessible and ready to network.”
|No.||Procedure||Time to Complete||Associated Costs|
| ||1||Check the uniqueness of the company name and pick up a company registration form
Agency: Administrator and Registrar General
The company name search is conducted by the applicant and with the assistance of an officer from the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG).
The company must have a Memorandum and Articles of Association. Standard articles are available at OARG. If the standard documents are considered insufficient, a solicitor can be consulted to prepare one.
| ||2||Register with the Registrar of Companies and Obtain Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the single window at the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG)
Agency: Office of the Administrator and Registrar General
Submission of the company's documents to the OARG officer starts the incorporation process. The officer examines the documents and issues a payment slip to settle incorporation fees. Registering an LLC costs no more than SLL 60,000 (one time fee) + stamp duty ranging from SLL 75,000.00 to SLL 495,000 depending on the share capital which does not have to be paid up. In addition, a written statement fee of 50,000 for new business registration was enforced by the Finance Act 2015. The TIN number can be obtained from the same single window. The officer issues the Certificate of Incorporation upon submission of the payment receipt.
|2 days on average
| ||3||Pay the fees and obtain the certificate of incorporation from OARG
Agency: National Revenue Authority at OARG
The company submits the payment slip and pays for the incorporation and stamp duty fees. With the receipt of payment, the Certificate of Incorporation is issued to the new company.
| ||4||Request a business license from the Municipality of Freetown
Agency: Municipality of Freetown
Once a TIN number is assigned, the business license and registration certificate is obtained from the desk of the Freetown City Council located at the one-stop shop within the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG).
| ||5||Register with the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT)
Agency: Ministry of Labor and Social Security at OARG
It is required to register native workers with the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT).
| ||6||Make a company seal
Agency: Seal maker
According to the Companies Act, the company must make a formal seal and a common seal. For documents used outside Sierra Leone, the formal seal is used for sealing company documents. This seal is usually embossed on documents with a metal device on which the company’s name, crest, and the like are engraved. For documents to be used in Sierra Leone, an impression is made with a common seal, which is usually made in ink with a wooden (or rubber) block.