On October 2, 2018, the Vice President disclosed a special window of 90 days for businesses to be registered at NGN5,000 instead of the usual NGN10,000. That window started on 1st of October 2018 and will end on the 31st day of December 2018.
The window is a landmark in the campaign for ease of doing business in Nigeria. Entrepreneurs should tap into the opportunity so they can operate bank accounts in their business name and access other opportunities open to registered entities.
This article summarises:
As explained by the Vice President, a lot of MSMEs find it difficult to register their business as a result of cost. Before the initiative, an Applicant pays NGN10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Naira) as filing fee. By the initiative, you may now be able to register your business name registration with a little above NGN5,000. Although that sum does not include the cost of name reservation and other expenses. The incentive does not cover incorporated company registration. See my article Amazing Differences between Business Name and Limited Liability Company Registration. Neither does it apply to the registration of not-for-profit organisations. You can view my article How to Register your NGO, Church, Mosque and other Associations with CAC.
Get your business registered before 31st of December, 2018. It is safer to do it now as waiting until around the close of the incentive period may be risky. If you delay, you may end up trying to get your name reserved and then the window closes. So, a stitch in time saves nine!
First thing first, you need to get your business name reserved. Below is a step by step guide on how to reserve your business name:
– Please check my article 6 Practical Hints to Create a Registrable Business Name. It would help you adjust your choice name to become more suitable.
– Do a preliminary check at http://publicsearch.cac.gov.ng. The site documents all existing names in the archive of the CAC. If your choice name is similar to any, then you have to review. Once done, click on “save and continue” to go to the next page.
Let us assume that the CAC approved your business name. The next steps will guide you on how to register the approved business name:
Peculiar situations may call for extra steps. E.g. where the sole proprietor or partner is under 18years. Another is where an incorporated company is the sole proprietor or involved as a partner, etc.
Should you have difficulty at any point, you may reach the CAC customer care lines below: 09087401598, 08182298833, 08082824188, 08182298971, 08182299016, 09087401598, 09087401599/. Otherwise, you can mail firstname.lastname@example.org
By Audu Monday and Sunday Okpeh
Covenant Capital’s Annual Tax Seminar held on 29 July 2017 was an insightful session. We had seasoned tax professionals share their knowledge on the tax environment in Nigeria. One of the speakers, Mr Wale Ajayi, a Partner at one of the ‘Big 4’ Accounting Firms in Nigeria took us through the Nigeria tax regime for SMEs. We have summarized below the insights he shared at the Seminar.
1. What are taxes?
Taxes are the compulsory levies imposed by the government on people, entities, properties and transactions. According to Frederick the Great (18th Century), “no government can exist without taxation. This money must necessarily be levied on the people; and the grand art consists of levying so as not to oppress.”
A tax is not a quid pro quo payment by the people to the government. English speakers often use the term to mean “a favor for a favor”. The government is obliged to provide public goods, however, it is not meant to be a direct response to payment of taxes.
2. Overview of Nigerian taxes
Even though taxes are payable by individuals and corporate bodies, such taxes are not levied or imposed on such individuals and corporate bodies. Rather, taxes are levied on the incomes and transactions of these individuals and corporate bodies.
Taxes may be direct or indirect and may be imposed on individuals’ incomes, corporate entities’ incomes, assets and transactions.
3. Tax administration in Nigeria
The administration of taxation in Nigeria is vested in various tax authorities depending on the type of tax under consideration.
Broadly, there are three categories of tax authorities; the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the States Internal Revenue Service and the Local Government Revenue Committee. The enabling law in respect of each type of tax will normally contain a provision as to the body charged with the administration of the tax.
4. Overview of SMEs
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) form the core of majority of the world’s economies. The National Policy on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises defines Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) as “An entity with between 10 – 200 employees and with an asset value (excluding land and buildings) of ₦5million – ₦500million”. They represent 50% of the GDP and employ about 84% of the labor force in Nigeria.
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) was established in 2003 to facilitate the promotion and development of a structured and efficient Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector that will enhance sustainable economic development in Nigeria.
5. SMEs Tax Incentives
There are a lot of incentives available to SMEs in Nigeria. Some of them are:
(a) Small business incentive
Companies within the SME bracket are charged to company’s income tax at the rate of 20% instead of the conventional 30% for their first 5 years, which can be renewed for an additional 2 years subject to certain conditions.
(b) Free Trade Zone/Export processing zone Incentives
Section 23(1s) of CITA also exempts a company that is established in an EPZ or free trade zone from payment of taxes. In addition, Section 35(i) – (v) provides that, the profit or gain of a 100% export oriented undertaking established within or outside an export free zone shall be exempt from tax for the first three consecutive assessment years subject to certain conditions.
(c) Agricultural business incentive
Companies carrying on agriculture trade or business will not be subjected to minimum tax. There is also exemption for interest on loans granted by a bank to companies engaged in agricultural trade or business, fabrication of any local plant and machinery and providing working capital for any cottage industry established by the company.
(d) Pioneer Status incentive
A company granted pioneer status will not pay income tax for the period stated in the pioneer certificate. The company will however, pay VAT and also render WHT returns. The pioneer company would however file normal income tax returns which would state ‘NIL’ tax liabilities. The Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) is statutorily empowered to grant and issue Pioneer status under parameters laid down by the FG. The NIPC grants pioneer status ranging from 3 to 7 years and is conferred on a product(s) and not a company. Tax holiday begins on the date certified as production day.
(e) Gas Utilization Incentives
A company engaged in gas utilization (downstream operations) shall be granted an initial tax free period of three years, and which may be subject to the satisfactory performance of the business, be renewed for an additional period of two years.
6. Strategies for Managing Taxes
Taxes can be managed by an SME using three approaches. These are:
(a) Business process
● Proper Record Keeping – It is required by law to maintain good records. This among other things will discourage the tax authorities from raising best of judgment assessment which most times will be more than what a taxpayer would have paid if records were properly kept.
● Treat FIRS Correspondence/Tax documents as priority – This must be taken seriously and attended to promptly and professionally.
● Business Financing Method – Financing businesses with loan/debt is cheaper than using equity. Interest on loan is tax deductible. This option should be taken advantage of. Care should be taken however that loans are promptly repaid as and when due.
(b) Accounting and Tax Strategy
● Invest in basic tax knowledge. If you want to run a successful SME, then a little knowledge in tax should be considered.
● Engage tax expert. The use of auditors/tax adviser is not an option when preparing and filing returns. This will save the business a whole lot of money
● Take advantage of tax planning opportunities and incentives. Some examples of these incentives has been discussed above.
(c) Voluntary Tax Compliance
● The cheapest form of tax compliance is voluntary/self-compliance. The FIRS operates a self-assessment regime where a taxpayer can assess himself to tax and file returns on that basis.
● Use of tax amnesty. For example, the recent Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) initiative by the Federal Government.
We should always remember that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. Taxes are here to stay, they won’t go away. It is not a punishment but our responsibility as citizens. So let’s brace up.
The Federal Government recently announced a tax amnesty programme known as the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS or “the Scheme). The Scheme is expected to run for nine months starting 1 July 2017 and is for all categories of taxpayers in default of taxes. An Executive Order for the administration of the Scheme has also been signed by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
All entities are eligible to participate in the Scheme however in order to participate, business owners must have a full picture of the Scheme in order to take advantage of it. In this article, I have analysed things to know before, during and after participating in the Scheme.
1. If you have never registered for taxes or you have registered and paid taxes in some years but then stopped paying, or you have been paying less than you ought, this is your opportunity to pay your liabilities and walk away free from penalty, interest and prosecution. Those currently undergoing a tax audit and non-resident individuals and companies are also eligible to apply.
2. You must make full and frank disclosure of your tax liabilities. In this instance, if you are not aware of how much you have accumulate in tax debt, get your tax manager or a tax professional to assist with determining your liability. The tax authorities are also available to assist in this regard once you fill and submit your declaration form.
3. You can make declarations for any prior 6 years of assessment (i.e. 2010 to 2015 financial years) for any tax, as the Scheme covers all federal and state taxes including companies income tax, personal income tax, petroleum profits tax, capital gains tax, value added tax, stamp duties, tertiary education tax and NITDA levy.
4. There will be sensitization for professionals and taxpayers in general. About 7,500 Community Tax Liaison Officers (CTLO) are being recruited and trained for this purpose. Try to attend one of these sessions.
5. Read the FAQs section on the website, www.vaids.gov.ng to ensure that you are fully and completely aware of what is required of your business before participating.
1. You must make use of the declaration forms on the Scheme’s website at www.vaids.gov.ng to make your declaration. There are forms for companies and individual (i.e. sole proprietorship and partnership) respectively.
2. If you have never registered for taxes, simply walk into any tax office (state or federal) and obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Use this to fill out the declaration form and the relevant tax authority (RTA) will take it up from there. Please note that TIN is free. You do not have to pay to obtain one.
3. If your business is a business name, your declaration form should be submitted to the State Internal Revenue Service closest to where your business is located. For a company, your form should be submitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service’s office closest to your business or your usual FIRS office for filing tax returns.
4. Taxpayer have the option to spread the payment of outstanding liabilities over a maximum period of three years subject to any agreement reached with the relevant tax authority. However, any default of an agreed payment plan may result in interest and penalty.
5. Information provided on the forms will be verified by the RTA and they may call for further document and information. There may also require you to submit an amended declaration form if the need arises. Therefore, you must ensure that you are ready to completely expose your business activities to the tax authorities as this is what will be required of you under the Scheme.
1. The Federal Government (FG) has stated that any eligible taxpayer who fails to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the Scheme, shall upon its expiration, be liable to pay in full, the principal tax liability due, penalty and interest thereon. The taxpayer may also be subject of a comprehensive tax audit exercise and prosecution.
2. Taxpayers are expected to be fully complaint after the Scheme or they may forfeit the benefits granted under the Scheme. Therefore, be sure that your business is ready to be tax complaint after the Scheme so that your latter is not worse than your former.
3. Be assured that all information provided by the taxpayer under the Scheme shall be treated with utmost confidentiality in accordance with the provisions of the relevant laws.
We encourage you to take advantage of the Scheme to regularize your tax record as this may be a once in a business lifetime opportunity.
You can attend the Annual Tax Seminar, organized by Covenant Capital, which is holding on Saturday, 29 July 2017 at The Covenant Place, Iganmu to discuss this and other tax matters. There would also be a tax clinic run by tax professionals to attend to tax matters on a one-on-one basis.
Objective statistics shows that SMEs are over 90 per cent of the businesses in Nigeria and they contribute up to 45 per cent of GDP. This is despite being underfunded and unstructured.
When you consider that the current value being derived from SMEs is substantial despite the fact that most of them are subsistence/micro businesses, then you can begin to imagine how big this opportunity will become if they scaled up just one level.
The biggest challenge in terms of financing SMEs in the country is the fact that SMEs do not have the ability to scale to an extent where bank debt will make a meaningful impact. This prevails because of lack of proper financial education of SME operators, Lack of good corporate governance and business structure and Lack of access to equity – our markets for equity is not very developed.
A few SMEs recognize the challenge, whilst many of them believe that the banks should solve their problems, this is mostly because they do not understand that the nature of bank loans do not accommodate an appetite for funding start-ups or for giving loans that behave like equity. Despite increased attention and support for SMEs by banks and the CBN, most SMEs out there still have this perception that the banking industry is not favourably disposed to SMEs. In other to correct this impression, SMEs need constant education on how the economy runs. If the banks lower their appetite for risk and fund the businesses with poor structure and governance, the loans will go bad, shareholders’ funds will be eroded, and the cycle will hurt SMEs even more.
There are however alternative solutions for SMEs which can be facilitated by banks or any other stakeholder in SME ventures. SMEs can be assisted through business trainings/capacity building programs, business incubator can be set up to cater for handholding businesses, a mentoring platform can be created for entrepreneurs so as to open them up to business best practices as well as provide market access.
In addition to the above, there is however still a need to work at developing alternative sources of funding apart from commercial bank debts. Banks collaborating to set up various pockets of SME entrepreneurship funds might help meet the need for patient capital which commercial bank debts can then ride on.
In the interim, start-ups and SMEs in general can take advantage of intervention funds such as the You-Win initiative and other government driven funding opportunities.
By ‘Lola Thompson Makinde
When you walk into one of John Lewis’ 46 stores in England, you will be served by a genuine stakeholder of the company, not just a committed employee. John Lewis has adopted a unique business model that ensures that every employee is not just a unit’s manager, but a partner of the business. A partner who has a right, once he gets employed by the organization, to knowledge, power and profit sharing. This ‘Out-of-the-Box’ model, might be extreme to most Nigerian companies, but it is noteworthy that a store which is only 10 years old, has a turnover of over a hundred million pounds and is favorably competing with brands like Marks and Spencer that have been around since 1884.
What can we learn from John Lewis’ culture about a well-disposed employee who is not only engaged but adequately empowered?
Let us look at the 3 key rights given to the John Lewis team members (partners) that make their business outstanding:
Several studies have shown that, where clear-cut information has been exposed to team members about the state of a business or key reasons why decisions have been made, productivity of employees improves. In addition, there is improved quality as employees see the need to improve. Secondly, there is an increased respect for management’s decision as they are aware of the reasons behind such decisions. Thirdly, knowledge promotes a work environment filled with trust, which reduces staff turnover.
An organization with the culture of providing autonomy to employees encourages them to take ownership of their work, know that they are valued and also empowers them to make an impact. This in turn positively affects productivity. You can empower your team by:
Communicate when they are not meeting expectations. To maintain accountability you must ensure they understand the consequences of failure. You need to be consistent and ensure you use the same standards and rewards for yourself as a leader, as well as, all employees. For effective results, as the leader, you need to be seen as accountable to your employees as much as they are accountable to you.
Conclusively, in answering the question, “Would you rather have people work for salary or work to contribute? “ think of how big you want your business to grow and how important your employees are towards achieving that vision.
Employee engagement is having employees who are not just disposed to their employers, but who feel like partners in the business and are therefore willing to ‘contribute’. In the end, achieving employee engagement is never a quick fix, but it’s worth the efforts.
by Tubosun Aliu
For an aspiring entrepreneur, one challenge in the journey to starting your first business is the
question, “Where do I begin?”
There are no simple answers to this seemingly simple question, as starting from the very beginning is
the only way. There are no shortcuts on this entrepreneurial journey and you have to spend time,
intellectual resources and perhaps tap into your social capital to get started.
However, in order to make this journey easier, the important question that an entrepreneur needs to
constantly ask himself/herself is “Why am I doing this?”
Starting and owning a business takes a lot of time and energy, and can be physically, emotionally and
psychologically challenging. You might have to spend hours studying and researching, finding the right
location, technology, people, and working out your strategy, marketing plan, operational plans, etc.
This would eventually take its toll on you and you will most likely get to that point where you ask
yourself, “Why am I doing this again?”
Having an answer to the question of “why” is one of the things that would keep you going and push
you beyond that critical point when your momentum seems to be failing. When you successfully cross
this line of doubt, you become almost unstoppable!
The question then is to define what is important to you and the motive behind your wanting to start a
business. Yes, a lot of folks will say “of course, it’s to make money”, and I agree that making money in
business is very important and making profit is extremely critical. But the fact of the matter is that
there are a million and one ways to make money and a million and one businesses that you can do to
help you achieve that purpose, but you chose this particular business! So why this business and not
The “why” behind your business is the motivation that keeps you going. This might be expressed in a
mission statement or might just be a strong conviction of how you believe you can bring about
positive change in the society, or improve the quality of lives of your target customers or even
Whether it’s a slogan or your core mission statement, this will be your strength on your journey and
ultimately continue to keep you fired up!
By Eyitayo Ogunyemi
Has it happened that you intended to communicate a point but your client interpreted your message wrongly? This usually happens when written business communications are vague, morose and without a sense of simplicity. The end result, more often than not, is that potential clients “move on” to the next service provider. To take your business to a bigger level, you must write with clarity in such a way that your potential clients easily get your point. When you achieve this, your clients become happy to engage you, because they understand your terms and their own obligations. Below are five hints to write to win both existing and potential clients:
1. See your words as PRECIOUS GEMS, you won’t give them out carelessly, so write what you mean and mean what you write.
2. Prefer the positive expressions to the negative expressions. I like the way Deborah S. Bosley gives the picture of how our brain reacts to words we read in her article Positive language makes our brains happier
Your selling point may be connected to the use of certain negative words (drug industries for example capitalises on the use of negative words and then tell potential clients how their drugs cure those negative vices), one of the solutions in such instance is to use as few negative words as is possible.
Another arm of this lesson is to avoid using double negatives because they make the readers engage in “mental gymnastics”. See for instance the following statement:
“You may not disengage from the terms of this Agreement unless….”
The challenge with the above example is that, like the rule in mathematics, two negatives make a positive, so where you have “not” as the first negative and “dis” (from the word “disengage”) as the second negative, you have a positive statement which will communicate a wrong intention. It could have therefore been put this way:
“You may disengage from the terms of this Agreement if…”
To conclude on this, greater chances are that when you write in the positive sense, you will use fewer words.
3. Your choice of words should be determined by your likely readership. For instance, your colleagues will probably not patronise your business because they are your competitors, so why write as if you are addressing a colleague?
Potential clients easily get worn out trying to know what you mean when you use technical words (which only your colleagues are licensed to understand). What you must therefore do, is to put the technical words in simple contexts.
One last note- if you must use technical words, make sure that you create a portion to interpret those words in the plain English sense. If you are preparing an online article, link those tech words to other sites where they are exhaustively interpreted.
4. Avoid the repetition game. Many people do this because they are afraid that they have not been heard. For whatever reasons, the thing about repeating yourself is that you become boring.
Here is an example from my archive:
“ON no ground whatsoever or howsoever shall we be liable….”
You will notice that one of “howsoever” or “whatsoever” could have been sufficient, or a more simple word could have fit in perfectly.
5. Engage your clients in the active voice:
“Active voice” is when the subject of a sentence performs the action in the verb, while “passive voice” is when the subject has the action performed on it.
In elementary school, we were taught that when the passive voice is used, it means something is being done for the actor, but active voice puts the actor in charge. When you apply that explanation to your business, you will realise that passive written expressions make you look frail, while active expressions give a sense to your clients that you are in charge.
You don’t say: “The account will be audited by us”
You should say: “We will audit the account”
Communicating in the active sense helps you to be clear on your thoughts and also clear on who should do what, and what is to be done.
Investing time to communicate to your clients with clarity and simplicity is an act that should be taken serious when preparing your marketing strategies. The Businessperson that engages his/her clients with simple written expressions has a good chance to have the most clients (observe the trend for instance in Insurance companies). The days are gone therefore, when it is assumed that the black man appreciates the content of a book by its cover.
Culled from AfricanFarmer Mogaji’s presentation at Covenant Capital Seminar titled ‘The Untapped Agricultural Potential of Nigeria’
Looking at the history and development of agriculture in Nigeria, it is not a coincidence that virtually all our past Presidents and Heads of State had passion for agriculture; this is not surprising as the state of oil sector in our economy was never so encouraging. With that understanding, you may agree that it is high time we went back to the drawing board to explore the gains of agriculture in order to fix our crawling economy.
We need to work together to fix our economy, but, how do we fix it? Agriculture is the way to fix it, and if your interest is already being aroused, below are some “food for thought” in Agriculture that may stimulate business idea(s) for you in your bid to make a business opportunity out of agriculture:
It may interest you to also know that the Federal Government has made a drastic move to stop rice importation by putting in place measures which will give the local rice farmers opportunity to develop rice production in the country, so what do you intend to make of that?
Culled from Managing Counsel of Templars; Ijeoma Uju’s presentation at Covenant Capital Seminar titled Establishing a business in Nigeria ‘What you need to know’ (Part 2)
Many people desire to start their own business and they wish to gather as many information as possible on how to go about the whole process.
To start with, there are several benefits for starting up a business in Nigeria- depending on the kind of structure you decide on. Some of these benefits include:
Having identified some of the benefits of starting your own business, you may wonder next on the kinds of business structures that are available in Nigeria, and also on your own best option. Some guides are provided below:
The most common structures in Nigeria for businesses that are going to be profit making ventures are the business name, and the Limited liability Company.
The business name could either be set up as sole proprietorship or partnership.
For sole proprietorship, you must bear in mind that you are the business, everything you will do is about the business, you have complete control of the business- but it may be difficult for you as a sole proprietor to raise a substantial capital for the business, and you are not also guaranteed that your business will continue- which means succession on the business is not guaranteed as a sole proprietorship business owner.
As for partnership, financial commitments are shared amongst the partners; where you seek to operate one, you and your partners must share the load of profit and every other benefit that come out of the business and the risks. The principal issue is where dispute arises in the business and the partners are put to the test of carrying on together.
Lastly is the limited liability company structure which benefits hinge on the facts that the company is a separate legal personality from its members, it can transact business in its name, it can sue and be sued too, and there is perpetual succession of the business, plus the brain of the business which is referred to as Board of Directors. Conversely however, the tax liabilities on companies are higher, and companies are obliged to keep records and file annual papers and audited report.
From all stated, you may agree that the decision on which business structure to adopt has to be made as early as possible because not all the structures will be appropriate for the kind of business that you intend to run.
…. to be continued.
Moderator: Thank you very much Evangelist. That was really insightful. Grew up, watching mount Zion movies and I really admired the Evang. Mike and Gloria. It’s a big privilege being here today. Sir, when we think of Christian film making, the mind of the business man thinks of a low economic opportunity.
Mike Bamiloye: Yes, I think there is that economic opportunity. I remember many years ago, when we did ‘Agbara Nla’ (Ultimate Power). It generated a lot of traffic even though it was on home video and wasn’t in the theatre. It was shown on every major TV station in the Western Region. Quite a number of marketers about 5 of them were competing to sell the home video and were fighting amongst themselves. The demand was high! Content is key and once it’s a solution based content, demand will come for it. However, presently a lot of things such as privacy and the likes have gotten involved.
Moderator: How did you know or trust that there were prospects in this line of ministry or trade and will eventually pay off that you committed your life to it?
Gloria Bamiloye: I think everything is by faith. We just believed it’s of the Lord and that we were called. I was a teacher before then, but when I discovered God, I followed him. Once you are faithful and don’t play games with God, you will prosper. So it has been by faith
Moderator: Tell us a little bit about your drama training school and what you intend to achieve through it?
Mike Bamiloye: It is called Mount Zion Institute of Christian Drama. It started in 1991 and was situated in Ile Ife. The essence of this, apart from film making and drama production, is that the Lord has given the vison of nurturing and training others in this line. My objective is building people up and majority of people making Christian movies now are directly and indirectly products of the institute all over the world.
Moderator: With high level of piracy and sophisticated media world, how do you make your money as a Christian movie maker?
Gloria Bamiloye: Firstly, I will advise you not to look at the money but believe in what you have (Vision) and launch into it. Piracy is everywhere. Even our movies were pirated and Government couldn’t do anything. A woman got angry and went to Onitsha and saw this pirates but couldn’t do anything. It’s more of a calling and a way of passing a message to the world. God himself will surely take care of you.
Moderator: What are the opportunities for stage drama and Christian drama in the environment? What are your views about alternatives to cartoons for kids?
Gloria Bamiloye: The alternative is having Christians producing cartoons that will promote God-like and moral values in a very interesting way. Every person in drama ministry have varied gifts. Christian producers should be able produce contemporary movies as well.
(Moderator: Obinna Nwachukwu)