A Users’ Manual on Registering and Operating CSOs, BMOs, and Business Start-Ups in Ethiopia

03.30.2021 | Guides & Tools | CIPE East Africa Regional Office in Addis Ababa

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), in collaboration with the African Civic Leadership Program (ACLP), is proud to present A Users’ Manual on Registering and Operating CSOs, BMOs, and Business Start-Ups in Ethiopia. This legal guide for Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Business Membership Organizations (BMOs), and Business Start-Ups outlines the legal and regulatory requirements for their establishment in Ethiopia. It also helps CSOs and associations identify the most suitable path and timeline for the registration of their organizations, as well as the government bureaus and ministries responsible for the registration process. CIPE and ACLP hope that this joint effort provides a comprehensive understanding of the current legal environment for the registration and operation of CSOs, BMOs, businesses, and start-ups in Ethiopia.  

Ethiopia’s civil society space was severely restricted when the then-government enacted the Charities and Societies Proclamation in 2009 (No. 621/2009)effectively silencing a large swath of independent civil society voices. Nearly a decade later, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ushered in a wave of social and political reforms, including the introduction of a revised CSO law aimed at removing obstacles to civil society engagement and fostering a more “start-up friendly” environment in Ethiopia. Following the revision and introduction of the 2019 Proclamation (No. 113/2019), there has been a move for more CSOs to re-establish themselves and begin operations now permitted under the revised CSO law.  

This guidebook seeks to support new and existing CSOs, BMOs, businesses, and start-ups in understanding the new legal landscape with the goal of broadening the accessibility and strength of civil society in Ethiopia. 

The first edition of this document – originally titled Users’ Manual on Ethiopia’s CSO Law – was issued by the African Civic Leadership Program (ACLP) and the Agency for Civil Society Organizations (ACSO) of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in October 2019. Its purpose was to support the establishment and development of CSOs after the 2019 revision of the Ethiopian CSO Law and to support CSO engagement in development, democratization, and peacebuilding in Ethiopia.  

CIPE and ACLP joined together to revise this manual with the primary objective of clarifying specific elements of the guide in consideration of new developments and expanding the audience to include business membership organizations (BMOs) and individual businesses in recognition of the important role that each of these groups play in supporting civic life in Ethiopia. This initiative is part of CIPE’s newly launched Civic Engagement Hub in Ethiopia, an incubator, co-working space, and resource center for new and growing Ethiopian civil society organizations and civic-minded entrepreneurs. 

An Amharic translation of this resource is forthcoming.