By Wilfred Isak April
TODAY we are going to briefly discuss how to go about registering a business in Namibia. It is important that, once you decide to start a business and you have put all elements in place, the business is registered with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to ensure that your enterprise is legally recognised, regulated and properly managed, as well as benefit from the facilitation services for registered businesses.
The registration of businesses is also aimed at encouraging investment through an appropriate legal framework to operate and transfer any business transaction to give the confidence to your customer to do business with you. As an entrepreneur there is a key decision you have to make, which is the choice of business form. In Namibia you have the choice to start a sole proprietorship, partnership and a close corporation. A sole proprietor is an individual running a business in his/her own name and the owner is personally responsible for all the personal losses or debts. When you choose to go into a partnership you go into business with another person. For example: Jimmy and Chrispin can start a business and bear equal responsibility for debts incurred. On the other hand a close corporation is a business medium between an enterprise and partnership, which is designed to empower small businesses and to promote the belief that free enterprise exists. It is important to alert all readers at this point that a close corporation cannot exceed more than 10 members. When you choose your business form it is important to keep in mind that there are various forms for each category. For instance forms for a close corporation can be purchased at most stationary outlets such as Walton’s.
It is important to know that any person regardless of race, age, gender, and ethnicity may purchase and complete such a form and you are free to submit it via registered mail or by certified mail. You do not have to submit an application in person. Each form of business has documents with specific codes with a definitive purpose. If we look at documents required for the incorporation of a company not for gain (Section 21) they have a form called CM5, which costs N$5.00 originally stamped. In addition the incorporation of a company for no gain also has a CM4A (in triplicate) document which serves the purpose of guarantee concerning the liability of members. If we look at a partnership they have a CC8 document to reserve the name of your enterprise at a fee of N$50.00. It is important that you read your forms/documents carefully to ensure that you indeed register for the best form of enterprise, which is of interest to you. As I know my fellow countrymen/women by now all of us are asking: what do I gain from registering my business?
Some of you may say, I want to only serve in the underground economy. I am convinced that it will be very wise to register your enterprise as the benefits are numerous. First, if you would like to establish a business bank account you must provide proof that your business is registered. Remember a business bank account is an important asset to a small business, since it enables you to separate business and personal accounts. It also makes you stand out from the rest when you give your customers a business name, rather than your full name (familiar internal motivation from last week). Second, when you apply for small business loans, you must prove that your business is registered as lenders and investors will ask to see your business registration license. Finally, it is your reputation with clients which is also at stake, since you need to reassure them that your business is legitimate and not a ‘fly by night’ operation.
*Dr. Wilfred Isak April holds a PHD (Entrepreneurship) and currently lectures in Organizational Behaviour and Entrepreneurship at the University of Namibia.