To legally open a business here in Liberia there are several options that are available to an individual. They are as follows:
1. Sole Proprietorship – one person who is the sole legal owner and also the person who is solely responsible for any and all liabilities of the business. This means that a person who registers a business under this type will be considered as a trading as (whatever your business name is). This is the cheapest and fastest type of business to open. All that is required is for you to go down to the Liberian Business Registry and fill up a form and pay a registration fee so as to register your business name. This will allow your business to become registered as a legal entity here in Liberia. The document can be taken to the bank at once and you will be able to open a business account.
For the most part, most small businesses will come under this category. In some cases depending on the nature of your particular business, your location will have to be inspected by the Ministry of Commerce or, you might need a shop license if it is your decision to open a shop.
2. Partnership – This type of business is when two or more people come together to form a business. All of the requirements will be the same as the sole proprietorship, but the information must be provided for all partners. Partnerships are usually entered into when one person cannot handle a business alone and needs some help. Help is usually for the reason of financing or for the skills or expertise of others. These are some of the normal reasons for partnerships.
3. Limited Company – This is the most complex form of business, which must usually be handled by a lawyer. The company form of business operation is usually for the limited liability. This means that for the purpose of business the law treats the limited company as a separate person from its owners, and so any liability of the company is limited to the assets of the company and not to its owners. This is the most common form of business registration for the major companies in the country. Information on the cost to set up this form of business can be obtained from the Liberia Business Registry. Note: this type of business is not necessary for the small “start up” business owner unless there is some risk associated with your type of business. It would be best to contact your lawyer for advice if you are considering this form of business.
To close I want to offer some tips on launching a business in Liberia and this may also be useful to our friends abroad that have interest in doing business in Liberia. To obtain information on the operating environment, investment incentives and concession agreements you will have to contact the National Investment Commission (NIC). Web address – www.nic.gov.lr. To register a business one will have to contact the Liberia Business Registry (LBR). Web address – www.lbr.gov.lr. On taxation, customs and financial regulations the government arm responsible is the Ministry of Finance. Web address – www.mof.gov.lr. On environmental impact assessment guidelines, one will have to contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and on shipping of products, equipments and machinery, the National Port Authority is responsible. Web address – www.nationalportauthorityliberia.org. Companies wishing to do business in Liberia must meet the requirements of the particular sector or industry in which they propose to operate.
(Chealy Brown Dennis is a marketing and Business Development Consultant. He can be contacted on 0886264611 or 0776545394).