Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), sometimes called Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are non-profit, voluntary citizen’s groups organised for a common interest and perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions under Law No 99/014 of 22nd December 1999 and Law No 90/053 of 19th December 1990 on the freedom of association. They are organised around specific issues, such as human rights, child rights, health care, charity etc. They are usually funded by donations and are run primarily by volunteers. They are exempt from tax in Cameroon. NGOs and CSOs are supposed to be governed and managed by what is known as a Board of Trustees. These are the equivalent of what a shareholder/director would be in an incorporated company. The Trustees of an NGO or a CSO are responsible for the management and direction of the association. Here are some guides to consider when registering a Non-Governmental Organization in Cameroon.
GUIDE IN REGISTERING A NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION (NGO) IN CAMEROON
To Register an NGO in Cameroon, you would first need to register it as an association and the following should be considered:
- Devise a plan. Write about your organization’s beliefs, mission, and purpose. As you define your mission and draft your purpose statement, you should describe the overall purpose of the Association; the activities your Association will engage in or undertake; the core beliefs of the Association.
- Select your NGO name. To register an NGO in Cameroon you must select an NGO name like “Youths for Democracy and Positive Change”, “Brilliant Minds Educational Foundation”, “Mega Champions Football Club etc.
- Appoint the Trustee(s). A person qualified to be appointed as Trustee must not be less than 18 years of age, or of unsound mind; or undischarged bankrupt; or convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty within 5 years of his proposed appointment.
- Consult an Accredited Solicitor. A Solicitor who has been duly accredited to help execute the following:
- Drafting of the Association Constitution. In registering a Non-Governmental Organization in Cameroon, the Association’s Constitution should be drafted by a Solicitor who will set out the rules that would govern the internal affairs of the Association, the aims and objectives of the Association, the governance structure, names of members of the Board of Trustees, the statement of purpose, etc
- Drafting of the Minutes of the Meeting. Your solicitor will draft the minute of meeting that will provide details whereat members of the Board of Trustees were appointed list of members present and absent, the voting pattern, and the authorization to apply for registration, signed by Chairman and Secretary of the Board.
- Drafting of the Minutes of the Meeting. Your solicitor will draft the minutes of meeting whereat the special clause was adopted into the constitution of the organization; signed by Chairman and Secretary of the Board.
- Documentation of all registration documents. Your solicitor will put together all documents to Register an NGO including duly completed application form in triplicate, letter of application, copies of the Association constitution so drafted, the above minutes of the meetings, passport-sized photographs of the Trustees, the impression of the common seal of the Association, etc.
- Submission and Filing. Your solicitor will file all the relevant documents with the administrative officers for registration.
- Collection of the Association Certificate of registration. The Certificate of registration of the Association will be issued by the most senior administrative officer of the region of operation to you through your Accredited Solicitor after due documentation and filings.
- Open a Bank Account in the Open a Bank Account in the Association Name. This is very important because opening a bank account in the Association’s name shows that your Association is official and you are ready to begin to obtain financial support from the Public and receive a donation.
TAKE NOTICE, that your Associations will not automatically gain status of a Non-Governmental Organization(NGO) upon registration. This can only be possible after three years of active operation as the association is expected to: hold seminars, make donations etc, take pictures during activities carried out or organized by the association, register your association’s details in the visitor’s book of every school or orphanage you visit.
BENEFITS OF REGISTERING AN NGO
Registering a Non-Governmental Organization in Cameroon comes with some benefits to wit; It has an unlimited lifespan, proof of responsibility, access to credit in financial institution, the name of the NGO is protected, ability to buy land and operate a bank account.
To conclude If you have intent in registering a Non-Governmental Organization in Cameroon, you are taking the right step in the right direction. Registering your NGO would effectively confer numerous benefits for growth and sustainability. It is strongly recommended that you obtain help from an accredited solicitor to help you with the pre and post registration matters of your NGO, and to pin down key issues related to the governance structure and internal affairs of your NGO.
Article by Barr. Mafany Victor Ngando
“The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstance