A Guide To Starting A Business In Ghana

Thousands of people set up their new businesses in Ghana every year, According to the World Bank, 13,154 people were reported to have registered their businesses in Ghana in 2012 alone.

Some investors or business people set up businesses in Ghana because they want to work for themselves, others because they have a great idea and have spotted a gap in the Ghanaian market. And of course there are those who know they can make lots of money by investing in a specific industry in Ghana.

Although enthusiasm is important, good planning and a thorough understanding of the industry you would like to venture into is a must. Without good research you could struggle in setting up a viable business in Ghana.

Turning your idea or plans into a business

1. Research, research, research! 
If no initial research has been done on the viability of your business idea, it would be very important to undertake a feasibility study or a market entry analysis to ascertain the viability of your business in the Ghanaian market before you invest any capital.

2. Be willing to make changes to your business
Do not hesitate to make changes to your idea if the initial feasibility study or market analysis research points the weaknesses in your business idea and gives its recommendations in it's research findings. Neglecting the obvious weaknesses in your idea could cost you money in the long-term. 

3. Write a business plan
This needs to clearly show the results of feasibility study or market entry analysis research and explain how you can turn your idea into viable business using strategy and planning. 

4. Advise
You will need good and trusted advisers -consultants - especially if you are new to the African business environment. This is very essential since it will help you to avoid any unpredictable risk.

5. Business Registration
If you are located outside Ghana and wish to register a company in the country, then we’ve created this step-by-step resource to explain the process, and to show you exactly what you need and how you can commence and expand your business without too much hassle. 

Here are some of the steps required to legally set up company in Ghana:

Acquire a Tax Identification Number

Time to complete: 2 days on average

Cost to complete: no charges

Agency: Registrar-General Department or Ghana Revenue Authority

As of 2012, the applicant needs to acquire a TIN before proceeding to company registration. The applicant needs to complete a Ghana Revenue Authority Taxpayer Registration Form-Organisation. The Ghana Revenue Authority(GRA) officers after processing the TIN, sends a text message to the applicant to collect the TIN. This applies to both forms of application submission, whether online or physical filing in person.

Check for availability of company name and submit company documents to obtain the certificate of incorporation

Time to complete: 1 day

Cost to complete: 
- Name search GHC 25
- Name reservation GHC 50 
- Complete set of Incorporation forms GHC 15 
- Registration fees GHC 230 
- GHC 5 per certification of regulations (assuming 3 certificates)
Agency: Customers Service Office of the Registrar General's Department

The promoter/applicant shall request for a search to be conducted at the Companies Registry (customer service office ) to ascertain the availability and acceptance of the proposed name of the company, and submit the company documents for registration. The Registrar may, on a written application and on payment of the prescribed fee, reserve a name pending registration of a company: section 15(13) of the Companies Act 1963 (Act 179)

Applicant may pick up a prescribed Form A from the in-house bank, and submit filled forms at the bank. The Registrar examines and issues business registration certificate as well as certified true copy of the form to be submitted as attachment.

The incorporation documents and forms can be downloaded online at http://www.rgd.gov.gh. They include:

• Company regulations (four copies) 
• Tax identification number form (one copy) 

The forms require the following information: 

• Nature of the business that subscribers intend to engage in 
• Full names of subscribers and shareholders, their addresses, percentage shareholdings, occupation, and any directorships in any other company 
• Full name and address of company secretary and auditors (a letter of consent to act as auditor is attached) 
• An attestation that the minimum nominal capital complies with the requirement that a company 100% Ghanaian-owned have minimum nominal capital of at least GHC 500 

The tax identification number (certificate) is usually obtained by the Registrar General's Department on behalf of the incorporated company. A letter from an auditing firm must also be presented at the moment of document submission.

A Commissioner of Oaths authenticates forms required for the certificate to commence business

Agency: Commissioner of Oaths

Time to complete: 1 day (simultaneous with previous procedure)

Cost to complete: GHC 10

Form 4 must be completed for the issuance of the certificate to commence business, which requires authentication before a Commissioner of Oaths. The Commissioner for Oaths, located in the Registrar General Department, usually swears the oath within 1 day so that the company can obtain the certificate to commence business.

Obtain from the Registrar-General Department the certificate to commence business

Agency: Registrar-General Department

Time to complete: 2 days

Cost to complete: 0.5% of the stated capital as commencement tax + GHC 10 (registration fee with Ghana Revenue Authority) + GHC 100 form fees

After incorporating the company, the founder must complete Forms 3 and 4 within 28 days, indicating, among other information, the names, addresses, businesses, and occupations of the company’s secretary and directors; name and address of the company’s qualified auditor; the address of its registered office; its register of members; the amount of stated capital; and the number of issued and unissued company shares. Forms 3 and 4 must be signed by all company directors and the secretary. As the company's commencement tax, 0.5% of the stated capital is collected by the Registrar-General’s Department on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There is also a 100 GHC fee for forms 3 and 4. Four or five copies of the company regulations and Forms 3 and 4 are required (auditors, banks, solicitors, company secretaries may each require a copy). 

The Registrar of Companies now automatically registers new companies with the IRS. VAT is charged at 15% including a national health insurance levy (NHIL) of 2.5%.

Deposit paid-in capital in an account

Agency: Bank

Time to complete: 1 day

Cost to complete: no charge

The following documents must be presented to deposit paid-in capital in a bank account: copies of company regulations; the certificate of incorporation and the certificate to commence business; and signatures of the authorized company representatives. 

As part of the KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures, most banks require introductory letters from the company's solicitors in order to open the account. Additionally, some banks conduct a physical inspection of the company address.

Apply for business licenses at the Metropolitan Authority

Agency: Metropolitan Authority

Time to complete: 7 days

Cost to complete: GHC 270

The cost to apply for a Business Operating Permit (BOP) at the Metropolitan Authority depends on the type of business and the category in which it falls. Documents to be submitted depend on the type of enterprise (for example, restaurants must have permits from the fire department and the Town and Country Planning Authority—and, among other documents, an inspection certificate from the Ghana Tourist Board). 

Fees are subject to charge by the Metropolitan Assembly, according to law. According to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly Fee-Fixing Resolution 2015, the fee for a commercial retail/wholesale standardized shop "Cat. E" is GHC 270.

Inspection of work premises by the Metropolitan Authority

Agency: Metropolitan Authority

Time to complete: 1 day (simultaneous with previous procedure)

Cost to complete: no charge

An officer visits the business premises and reports to the Revenue Accountant of the Metropolitan Assembly, who then submits a report to the Revenue Mobilization Subcommittee of the Metropolitan Assembly. The subcommittee meets to deliberate on the report and then recommend to the Executive Committee of the Metropolitan Authority, whether any adjustment is required.

Apply for social security

Agency: Social Security Office

Time to complete: 1 day

Cost to complete: no charge

To apply for social security, the company must attach the list of employees, their respective salaries and social security numbers, and the company’s certificate of incorporation and certificate to commence business.

Registration with the Ghana Investment Promotions Center (for investors)

Agency: Ghana Investment Promotions Center (GIPC)

Time to complete: 5 days (max)

Cost to complete: 
Wholly Ghanaian Owned Business (Trading) - GHC 10,500
Wholly Ghanaian Owned Business (Others) - GHC 1,050
Joint-venture (i.e. $200,000 minimum foreign equity) - GHC 10,500
Wholly Foreign (i.e. $500,000 minimum foreign equity) - GHC 16,800
Manufacturing/Export Trading - GHC 21,000
General Trading (i.e. $1,000,000 minimum foreign equity) - GHC 31,500

In order to apply, investors are required to complete Investor Registration Forms (Form GIPC/R1) in triplicate. Within five (5) days from the date of orderly receipt of these forms (and its attachments)GIPC will formally register the investment. Registration needs to be renewed after every 2 years.

Source: World Bank, GIPC, Ministry of Trade and Industry
Image Credit: @chambersassoc

Note: The business registration guidelines are general in nature and not warranted or guaranteed. Readers are cautioned not to rely on this information. Because laws change over time and registration processing could also be delayed due to unpredictable circumstances, it is therefore imperative that you seek professional advise before beginning this process.

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