Increasingly, non-government organisations (NGOs) have become a key contributor in the response to various issues experienced in Africa (e.g., poverty, political unrest, food insecurity and low standards of healthcare and education). Indeed, the pre-covid period had seen a significant increase in the number of NGOs operating within African countries. However, this decreased as the pandemic and associated economic and social repercussions lead to many NGOs closing their operations. As the world and industry adjust to the ‘new normal’, NGOs seem to be recovering their presence in Africa, which will be important in assisting in the reduction of collateral damage inflicted on communities and economies by the pandemic.
NGOs expanding into Africa face the challenge of understanding the plethora of cultures, histories, legacies and people they are aiding, whilst trying to navigate the complex legislation and compliance requirements in different countries. Should an NGO, be considering expanding their reach to or within Africa, an Employer of Record can be a valuable partner in assisting them in building a solid foundation for their entity’s growth. Here are four best practices that should always inform an NGOs expansion plans, noting how an Employer of Record can assist the organisation in executing these.
There are many different ‘classifications’ of NGOs based on different factors, including orientation and level of cooperation with communities and governments. An NGO needs to be aware of the role they wish to serve prior to their expansion in Africa, as it impacts the process of registration in each country, and any subsequent benefits the organisation receives.
For example, under Mauritian Law, legal entities include Associations and Foundations, which are governed by different statutes, whereas Kenya has a single statute dedicated to NGOs.
Why does it matter? Depending on its classification, your association may be eligible for tax-related benefits. Such is the case in South Africa, where, amongst (namely Voluntary Associations established under Common Law, Non-profit trusts established under Statutory Law, and Non-profit companies incorporated for a public benefit objective), only Non-Profit companies bearing the status of Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs) carrying out certain activities may apply for partial exemption from levies, as compared to the two other categories of NGOs, which are not eligible for the same benefits This is an important factor to consider in order for both auditing and reporting purposes, which may vary according to the country of expansion.
Given that much of NGO operating funds come from investors and donations, transparency and accurate reporting are essential in offering stakeholders a view on the distribution of funds. However, keeping accurate records of spending across international borders and governance procedures can make it difficult and resource-intensive for NGO employees to manage satisfactorily.
For instance, if an NGO is managing their employees’ payroll in house, money will have to be sent across borders and through multiple financial institutions, which may take a considerable time, with likely delays in the process. Further, African countries have different legislations with varying levels of stringency that usually depend on a country’s adherence to, which aims to protect NGOs from terrorist abuse and mitigate the chances of money laundering. Under Mauritian and Kenyan law, for example, non-profit organisations have a strict duty to keep proper records of all sources of funding, financial transactions, assets, and liabilities for auditing purposes.
How an Employer of Record can assist: NGOs may be hesitant to dedicate some of their limited resources to managing these complex financial processes successfully. An Employer of Record can take on this role, ensuring accurate and compliant reporting for stakeholders and governments alike. Reducing the amount of admin-related tasks and responsibilities from employees allows them to invest their time and energy in creating value for the organisation and community around them.
Referencing the African Charter on Human Rights, there is a set of basic human rights and freedoms that all people on the African continent should enjoy. Given many African peoples’ sordid history with injustice and discrimination, NGOs need to be very careful as to how they position themselves and their purpose within different African regions, ensuring to account for subtle nuances in customs, cultures, views on sexuality, disability, and political standings. As NGOs employ local Africans, it is important to understand what fair and equal treatment entails, to ensure to uphold a country’s human rights and to ensure adequate protection of employees against discrimination. Inclusivity and fair labour practices work to promote an NGOs positive reach, as well as aligning to the NGO’s own mission and values.
How an Employer of Record can assist: AHR has worked successfully in Africa for 20 years, and our consultants have a deep understanding of the common practices and way things are done in the different regions. Partnering with an Employer of Record, such as AHR, ensures an NGO has a dedicated ally who can help them recognise cultural sensitivities and create safe and equitable work environments based on a country’s legislation.
Compliance around contracting, onboarding and eventual offboarding of new employees poses significant challenges for new or expanding NGOs in Africa.
Direct compliance implication in terms of financial reporting and auditing.
Contracting: If it seems that finding the right candidate for a post at an NGO was the most challenging hurdle-think again! As an NGO begins to contract with new employees, ensure to account for the various domestic employment laws necessary for contracting with that employee. Significant differences exist between countries when assessing minimum wage, leave, benefits, working hours and the requirements for local vs expat workers. An NGO needs to be aware of these nuances in minimum requirements to ensure they operate compliantly.
How an Employer of Record Company can assist: In the contracting stage, an Employer of Record, together with their In-Country Partner, are experts in contracting and basic employment requirements. All the NGO needs to do is provide some basic information to the EOR, who then takes the responsibility of creating the legally acceptable contract. Once the NGO is comfortable with the contract, the EOR manages the finalisation of the process with the successful candidate. Nice and simple!
Onboarding: Once contracting is complete, the next challenge is to onboard the employee into the payroll system and pay them accurately and timeously through payroll. For payroll to be accurate, employees need to be appropriately registered with the relevant tax authorities and regulatory bodies to ensure that all payments, tax withholdings, mandatory benefits and employer contributions are in alignment with the statutes of law. For instance, in Mauritius, an employer has the statutory duty to pay part of the registered employee’s income tax, the remaining sum of which is paid by the employee themselves. In other countries, such as Senegal, employers must cover their employee’s medical insurance. Not adhering to these regulations when running payroll can lead to expensive penalties, as well as damaging the reputation of the NGO in the country.
How an Employer of Record can assist: In the onboarding phase, an Employer of Record takes on the legal and tax responsibility in ensuring to practice in a compliant manner, with a strict focus on governance and reporting. Our team of payroll consultants are experts within the African regions, and will process payroll in line with any new legislation to ensure your employees are paid promptly and correctly.
Terminating: Over time and for various reasons, all employment relationships come to an end. Most often it is a mutual agreement, with the employee retiring, seeking a new career path and opportunity or taking an extended time off work. However, unfortunately, there are cases where the termination can be difficult and sometimes messy. For instance, should an NGO wish to dismiss an employee for poor performance in South Africa, they would need to follow a specific set of procedures based on the reason for the dismissal, including showing that they have followed a process of progressive discipline, as well as giving the employee the opportunity to upskill and correct their performance. Should an NGO not follow these processes, the dismissal can be contested in court and classified as unfair dismissal and may require the NGO to provide 12 – 24 months of compensation to the employee.
As termination is the last step of employment relations, it is important to focus on creating positive employee experiences, as it will impact how the employees view you as an employer and whether they go into the market as an ambassador or detractor from the NGO. Employee experience is very much influenced by adherence to legislated procedures in each country, so prevent contravening any rights or standards of employment.
How an Employer of Record company can assist: In partnering with an EOR, such as AHR, termination of any employment contract is done based on accurate labour law knowledge and with legal support. AHR has a dedicated legal team, who are experts in labour law within the different countries, who can recommend appropriate documentation to collect and action steps the NGO may take in throughout the employee’s time at the NGO.
To be successful in Africa, NGOs need to ensure that they ‘get the basics’ right. In setting a strong foundation of compliance and fair practice in an employment relationship, an NGO may begin to stand out as an equitable and principled employer, fostering trust and transparency within the workplace, whilst they fulfil their mission of bringing aid to others. An Employer of Record, such as Africa HR Solutions, can help NGOs to establish these strong foundations, shouldering the legal and administrative burdens of day-to-day business to allow the NGO to do what it does best: bring lasting change in Africa and the African people.
Grant Geraghty is the longest-serving member of the Africa HR team. This resident subject matter expert and client champion is responsible for gaining a deep understanding of our clients’ unique HR needs in Africa and providing tailored solutions that align with their business objectives. Grant collaborates closely with our clients to ensure that their requirements are properly implemented, providing ongoing support and guidance throughout the process.
Grant brings a wealth of experience to his role, having served as Africa HR’s longest-serving employee. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in Economics and Business Finance, from the University of Natal in South Africa. Additionally, he has completed a certification program in Payroll and Tax Administration from the University of Cape Town, further enhancing his expertise in HR operations and compliance.
His commitment to delivering exceptional service and his extensive knowledge of HR in Africa make him an invaluable member of the Africa HR team.
Kevina Takoordyal has a BA Hons Business Management from the University of Glamorgan, UK, with MBA in leadership and Innovation, MBA General, PMP Certified, and Agile Scrum Master. She currently works as the Head of Operations at Africa HR Solutions Ltd with more than 20 years of proven leadership capabilities in Operations, Business Development, People Management, Process Optimization, and Project Management in the Financial Services, BPO, Banking Industry, and Heath Care Industry. In Senior leadership roles with an international footprint across Europe working and extensive Pan- African experience from a compliance, finance, and operations angle, Kevina comes across with a panoply of cross-functional skills. Kevina also serves on a few Boards, Non-Independent Executive at MioD and for NGOs on a voluntary basis, a coach and mentor to aspiring female leaders across Africa and Mauritius.
Kevina is a firm believer in Servant Leadership with a strong focus and commitment to uplifting others, with the ability to deliver through a highly engaged – diverse team, and works towards consistently synergistic value creation. While being a focused and adaptive thinker and Kevina is actively participating in panel discussions on Innovation, CX, Digital transformation.
Kevina serves as Project Assessor for the National Youth upskilling program. She has been recognized as Global Talent in a few companies, Ceridian, and International SOS Ltd whereby she has been awarded a few scholarships and had the opportunity to be mentored by Senior Vice President in the US. Award Winner in various fields and at a national level and recognized including Super Achiever Leader Award in Africa in 2016, Awarded Africa Women Leader 2018.
Viloshna is an experienced finance professional with 18 years of expertise in strategic financial planning, financial analysis, cash flow management, systems and controls implementation, financial reporting, and continuous process improvements. She currently serves as Head of Finance & Business Support, where she has successfully automated and leveraged the financial reporting system capabilities to ensure efficient company operations.
Viloshna’s background includes senior roles in a multinational pharmaceutical company and a large listed Mauritian conglomerate. Her meticulous attention to detail and strategic thinking have streamlined financial processes, making her a valuable addition to any finance team. Viloshna is a qualified finance professional with an FCCA qualification and an MBA, bringing valuable expertise to any organization.
In her current role, Viloshna leads the company’s Treasury and Payments function, including the fulfillment of the company’s cross-border payments into Africa. With her strong educational background and extensive experience, Viloshna consistently demonstrates her ability to optimize financial operations, minimize risks, and improve profitability. Her expertise in financial reporting and process improvements make her a valuable asset to any organization.
A qualified lawyer who joined Africa HR Solutions in July 2020, Mark Du Preez has experience working in private practice for a reputable law firm in South Africa. He also played commercially focused roles at a leading private bank, wealth management company, and outsourcing firm in South Africa and Mauritius.
Mark has played a pivotal role in Africa HR Solution’s risk mitigation strategy, which positively impacted P&L performance over the years.
He currently leads the Partnerships function of the company including relationships and oversight with in-country partners (ICPs) across Africa.
Alex has more than 15 years of experience in the global, strategic development of both enterprise and consumer brands in categories including technology, transport, enterprise software, entertainment, and travel.
With experience in roles on both agency and corporate side, he has worked across international brands and has led the development and execution of multi-discipline campaigns across EMEA, NORAM and Asia Pacific.
His focus is on driving meaningful business impact through brand differentiation and building high-functioning, digitally oriented, and analytically driven capabilities. He is motivated by working with, and developing dynamic people, teams, and organizations.
He leads, manages, develops and mentors the Key Account Management department, including line management responsibility for the team of Key Account Managers and Key Account Administrator who represent the Company as the primary communication link between all relevant stakeholders, including clients, third party in-country partners and internal functions.
Originally from Mauritius, he holds bachelor’s degrees in International Business, Finance and Management from the University of Nevada, Reno.