By Miriam Humbe
To ensure the nation’s economic growth, the federal government approved a colossal slash in the cost of business names registration. These were efforts geared towards enhancing the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
The Commission announced some extensive decisions which included the discount on the registration of business names from N10,000 to N5,000, and the completion of a company’s registration process within a 24-hours period. The federal government had through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), announced the discount which took effect in October 2018.
This special-window of reducing the fee for the registration of a business name from N10,000 to N5,000 was aimed to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, (MSMEs) formalise their operations. The commission had in February 2018, also concluded plans to close the manual registration of businesses and corporations. This was supposed to addressed some of the challenges usually encountered by people in the course of registering their businesses.
The onus of executing the federal government directive rested on the Acting Registrar General of the Corporate Affairs Commission, (CAC), Lady Azuka Azinge who became Acting Registrar-General of the CAC on October 19, 2017 upon the expiration of the tenure of the erstwhile Registrar-General Mr. Bello Mahmud.
During the same period, the CAC also achieved among other things, implementation of Presidential Executive Orders on Ease of Doing Business and other relevant reforms, and also implemented the Business Incentive Strategy (BIS) under which cost of registration of business was reduced by 50% to enable MSMEs formalize their businesses. A total of 232,004 Business Names were registered during the period. This was in a bid to increase the number of registered Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Acting registrar-general, Corporate Affairs commission, Lady Azuka Azinge, told journalists in Abuja that the move was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s drive to support and encourage ownership of MSMEs for the economic growth and development of the country.
The CAC under its Business Incentive Strategy (BIS), had reduced the cost of business names registration from N10,000 to N5,000 for a period of three months from 1st October 1 to December 31, 2018.
Upon expiration of the initial three months window, due to several requests from stakeholders and the public, the Commission extended same for another period of three months from January 1 to March 31, 2019, due to popular demand, particularly from state governments.
Azinge said this third extension would no doubt deepen the success achieved in the first and second phases and would run from Monday, May 13, to August 13, 2019. It did.
The federal government again, through the CAC, extended by three months, the special window for Nigerians to register their businesses on Monday, May 6, 2019. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo revealed that the success recorded so far in the process motivated extending the period for the 50 percent discount of business registration.
He said it was to give opportunity to micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) who could not register their businesses in the first and second phases of the Business Incentive Strategy (BIS).
The success story was huge. Registration of MSMEs grew significantly from 54,000 to 163,000 within six months of approving the discount.The move to extend the reduction cost deadline by the federal government was believed to help deepen the benefits of its reform initiatives. It was also aimed to enable more MSMEs to formalise their businesses, to enable them own corporate accounts with banks, have access to loans, grants, and other government interventions.
The figures were particularly encouraging. Averagely, 85,635 new companies registered in 2018. CAC also ensured complete decentralization of all State Offices operations, to ensure that State Offices operate at par with Head Office to enable customers pick up their Certificates at any location of their choice.
The CAC also ensured full closure of manual registration nationwide and deployment of online real time pre-registration services to all state offices through the Company Registration Portal (CRP). This was another strategy by the CAC was aimed to enable members of the public register their businesses from the comfort of their homes and offices within 24 hours.
The Commission further improved on delivery time for name search from 12 hours to 0-4 hours and reorganized departments and state offices for efficient service delivery and removal of requirement for proficiency certificate in the registration of professional entities to encourage investors.
Through some of its reforms, the CAC deepened communication with stakeholders and the general public through periodic Customers’ Forum, Public Sensitization, Open Market campaign and other forms of public engagement.
She ensured the Commission’s consistent participation in the nationwide Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Clinics under the Office of the Vice President and facilitated the passage of Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Amendment Bill 2019 by the Senate and the House of Representatives, which is awaiting Presidential assent.
The reforms include sustained conformity with the Quality Management System (QMS) throughout year 2018 upon transition from NIS ISO 9001:2008 Standard to NIS ISO 9001:2015 standard in 2017 Quality Management System (QMS).
Others include partial automation of post incorporation applications from state offices through email to reduce turnaround time and costs of transportation through courier services and consolidation of incorporation Forms into one CAC 1.1 which simplified registration for customers and saves costs.
These and other reforms ensured that Nigeria made significant progress in the Ease of Doing Business Index in 2017 and 2018. The reforms also earned the Commission several outstanding awards.
Steps to online registration process:
Although the N5,000 window has been closed, it is in the interest of the public to know that they can register their business names on the CAC’s website, or at any of the Commission’s offices closest to them. Here are the steps:
Log on to the CAC’s website. Search for the availability of your business name, to see if there’s still room for that name to be registered. You will be expected to provide two names. The CAC will search its register to determine that the names are not already in use or are similar to ones already being used.
Once it has been established that the names are unique enough to be registered, the CAC reserves your business name for 60 days, within which you are expected to complete the process of registering the name. Next step, fill the business name registration forms on the website. These forms include: The approved name of the business, as confirmed in the previous stage, what the business is and does, the business’s address and particulars of its proprietor(s), including their names, address, occupation, and other relevant information and two passport-sized photographs of each applicant (proprietor).
If you’re running a one-person enterprise, you are the sole proprietor or applicant. You are required to pay the CAC filing fees online or at a bank. As soon as the payment is approved, you should submit the forms listed in (4) to the CAC online. The Commission will notify you when they have approved your application, and issue you with a Business Name Certificate.