5 Roadblocks NGOs Encounter When Expanding to Africa

NGOs expanding in Africa

With African countries having relatively fewer modern infrastructures and being more exposed to instability, many NGOs choose Africa as their point of expansion. But most NGOs are wholly unprepared for the reality of such a choice, starting with the administrative procedures they must follow and the criteria they must fulfil to even begin their activities in the African country of their choice.

Along the way, NGOs will face many other hurdles that have little to do with the cause they are supporting – and everything to do with administration, HR needs, labor laws and compliance with local legislation.

Though well-meaning, NGOs could see their expansion projects crumble if they are unaware of these roadblocks – and how to overcome them while keeping their focus on their core mission.  

1. NGOs need a local entity to begin activities in an African country

NGOs, much like for-profit organizations, cannot operate if they do not have an in-country entity. This means that NGOs must register their entity and fulfill all the criteria required by local law in order to be eligible for operation. The issue here is that registration takes time, money, and resources – all ingredients which tend to be in short supply for NGOs that need to act fast in the interest of people and their higher cause. For instance, to be registered, NGOs will often need a physical local address and a local bank account to complete their application, which, itself, typically takes months and even, in some cases, up to a year to get fully processed by local authorities. For some NGOs, this kind of timeline is simply unthinkable.

How the right EOR can help

An EOR (Employer of Record), by nature, exists to allow organizations to legally operate in a country without a local entity. This implies a significant time gain for NGOs, allowing them to get to work almost immediately, rather than wait months on end for their applications to get fully processed. For those NGOs that wish to establish themselves more permanently in an African country, EORs are still a worthwhile solution. Indeed, EORs enable NGOs to be legally operational even as they wait for their registration to go through.

2. Balancing core activities with internal operations

When an NGO expands to a new country, they do so with the intentions of effecting social change and widening their circle of influence. But the reality of NGOs’ situations when they expand is more nuanced. NGOs cannot fully dedicate themselves to their main cause because they must also manage their own internal operations – a fact that finds NGOs splitting their time between helping society and their responsibilities as employers. These include HR functions (such as onboarding employees and administering employee benefits) and payroll. If the internal operations are not well taken care of, the NGO may well collapse from within. On the other hand, if internal operations begin to require too many internal resources, the NGO will not be able to fulfill its main missions to the best of its abilities.

How the right EOR can help

EORs alleviate an NGO’s workload by shouldering the responsibilities of HR functions and payroll. The right EOR will legally onboard your employees and process your payroll in a locally compliant way. This means that your NGO and your team will not have to worry about late or even incorrect salary payments, or even non-compliance with local labor law. An EOR will consider all these factors when they take over these responsibilities for you.

3. Working with contractors

To fulfill its vision, NGOs need capable workers. Often, NGOs will turn to contract workers to fulfill their labor needs. In so doing, most NGOs are unaware that they expose themselves to misclassification risks – which is a compliance issue at heart. Misclassification occurs when contract workers act as employees without receiving any of the benefits that the latter are entitled to. In most African countries, this constitutes a serious labor law offense, for which your NGO may be fined if found guilty.

 

To work with contractors without facing such risks, NGOs need to have an in-depth knowledge of local labor law.

How the right EOR can help

The right EOR will work with local experts who have a deep understanding of the local labor law. This will help your NGO determine whether a worker is, in fact, a contractor, or an employee depending on the work that they do and the way that they do it.

4. Ensuring compliance with a foreign legislation

As an NGO, your reputation is one of your key assets. Like trust, once your reputation is ruined, it will be hard to recover. If local authorities find that you are not compliant with the law, you may be sanctioned: usually by receiving a fine or by any other means deemed necessary by the local legislation. This can have disastrous consequences on your reputation, shattering the perception of goodwill that surrounds your NGO. After that, it may be harder to receive donations and to make donors trust you. All because of a compliance mistake that you were probably unaware of in the first place.

How the right EOR can help

The right EOR – like Africa HR Solutions – will ensure 100% compliance with local legislation, leaving no room for compliance errors and, by extension, blows to your NGO’s reputation. Here at Africa HR Solutions, we have a bulletproof compliance policy that gives your NGO the peace of mind it needs to keep going and to not worry about administrative issues in the least.

Over the past 13 years, we have helped over 70 NGOs in their expansion plans to Africa, facilitating their entry into the continent and helping them prioritize their core mission. Get in touch with us now to find out how we can help your NGO thrive in Africa!

5. Cultural differences

As NGOs shift to a new African society, likely very different from their own, and try to integrate it, they undeniably run into cultural shocks. This also holds true for employing local workers, whose cultural views and expectations of work may not align with what you may have in mind. Without proper knowledge of them and if not addressed properly, these differences can cause friction and dissatisfaction among your staff.

Bonus: USAID compliance requirements

USAID-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are subject to a set of strict compliance requirements established by the United States Agency for International Development. These guidelines include financial management, program implementation, and reporting procedures. From ensuring transparency in fund allocation to adhering to local laws and regulations, these mandates are designed to uphold accountability in delivering aid across the globe.

How the right EOR can help

The right EOR will work together with local experts. As such, the EOR will be fully cognizant of the many cultural practices surrounding work in that country, as well as what expectations the employees may have, beyond what the law recommends. For instance, in some African countries like Senegal and Kenya, it is common for employers to give employees’ what is known as 13th month pay, even though it is not mandated by law.

Table of Contents

We've Enabled 70+ NGOs Across Africa!

Over the last 13 years, we provided a compliant and secure expansion to more than 70 NGOs across the continent. Should you require professional guidance, know that we are the go-to advisor for your Non-Profit Organization!
Facebook
LinkedIn

Featured Blog Posts

GRANT GERAGHTY - Africa HR Team

GRANT GERAGHTY

HEAD OF CLIENT RELATIONSHIP

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 Africa HR Team

KEVINA TAKOORDYAL

HEAD OF OPERATIONS

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 PACKIRY POULLE​

VILOSHNA PACKIRY POULLE

Head of Finance & Business Support

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.

MARK DU PREEZ​

MARK DU PREEZ

Head of Legal & Compliance

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 Daruty - Africa HR Team

ALEX DARUTY

Head of Commercial

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.