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Start an NGO in MALAWI BY following the key steps below


NGOs are, in most cases, ideas of individuals or a group of individuals. What is required is for the initiator(s) to clearly conceptualize what they want to do and why they want to do it. Also, in the conceptualization phase, one needs to address the general framework of how his/her ideas would be put to practice or implemented.

2. Formulate a Constitution

After Conceptualization, formulate a Constitution of the NGO. You may ask for the input of a legal expert and colleagues. However, the Constitution should provide information, at least on.

  • Name of the NGO
  • Description and use of Common Seal and Logo of the NGO (also see step # 4 below)
  • Address of the NGO
  • Mission (main purpose) of the NGO
  • Vision (desired state of affairs in the development field of the NGO)
  • Objectives of the NGO
  • Board of trustees/Executive committee of the NGO including how many will they be; how will they be put into and out of office?
  • Secretariat of the NGO and its functions
  • Meetings and Quorums
  • Management of Financial Resources
  • Membership of the organization (if required): including who shall be eligible for membership; duties/roles, rights and responsibilities of members, acceptance and dismissal of membership, etc.
  • Procedures for amendment of the Constitution, including who shall amend the Constitution, what notice is required for an amendment, what majority of people should be allowed to amend the Constitution, etc
  • Dissolution. How will the NGO wind up should the need arise? Who should decide on a resolution to dissolve and by what majority?
    What happens to the funds and assets after dissolution? Under Trustees Inc Act, any remaining funds and assets after settling of all debts of a dissolved Trust must be donated to any other organization with similar objectives, or donated to Government but can not be shared among Trustees, members of staff of the NGO or any individual.

3. Identify the Trustees of the NGO

When the draft Constitution is ready, identify the Trustees of the NGO. These should be people of high standing in society and who are interested in what you want to do. They should be from different professions depending on what you want to do and should work voluntarily because they are not supposed to get a salary. Trustees are the legal custodians of the NGO/Trust. Discuss with them the constitution you have drafted and make changes if need be.

Also, convene a formal meeting of the Trustees you have identified to endorse the Constitution and agree to register the NGO. You may have interim positions of the Board also filled at this meeting. Minutes of this meeting should be available.

4.  Have a Logo and a Common Seal.

Your NGO should have a Logo and a Common Seal.

A logo is basically a symbol that identifies your NGO while a Common seal is an embossed stamp (different from a date stamp) with words like ‘Common seal of the registered Trustees of (name of NGO)’. The issue of Common Seal and logo should also be discussed with the identified members of the board of Trustees and agreed upon. The Common seal and Logo should be mentioned in the Constitution.

5. Register your NGO with The Registrar General

Register your NGO with The Registrar General (you may find their contact details in a Telephone Directory and enquire from them what they require for registration). They would require your Constitution, the names of the people in your Board of Trustees, a filled form/affidavit from them and payment of a fee, instrument of your common seal stamped on paper (or whatever they may advise you) among other requirements. Thereafter, the Registrar General applies to the Ministry of Justice for approval.


When you have a Certificate of Incorporation from Registrar General issued by the Ministry of Justice, you are expected to apply to CONGOMA for Registration under the NGO Act. CONGOMA is a designated NGO coordinating body in Malawi. It has the functions to collectively represent the interests of NGOs, strengthen their capacity, advocate for a conducive environment, coordinate NGO work and assist NGOs to operate within the NGO Act 2000.

To register with CONGOMA, you are required to submit:

  • Form (available on request).
  • A copy of the NGO Constitution
  • A copy of minutes of the first meeting of the Trustees at which they agreed it to form/ register the NGO (these minutes are from the meeting of step # 3 and 4)
  • A brief Concept Paper outlining the Activities that the NGO intends to undertake in Malawi.
  • Sworn in affidavits/ details of trustees and/or Directors, giving their names, citizenship, occupation and address. This is one of the legal documents of the NGO and the swearing and signing of this document must be conducted by a Commissioner for Oath/public Notary and certified by his/her official staff and signature. A legal person should do preparation of the affidavits and may be at a fee or not.
  • A copy of the Trustees Declaration certified (signed and stamped) by a Commissioner for Oath. This may be done at the time you register with.
  • Registrar General. Registrar General can provide more details on the contents and how the declaration is administered.
  • A copy of the Certificate of Registration with the Registrar General
  • Payment of a non-refundable  Fee ••of MK 3500.00 for Malawian NGO and MK5250 for International NGOs (this is subject to review)

After you register with CONGOMA a Malawian NGO pays an annual membership subscription determined by the CONGOMA Annual General Assembly from time to time.

7. REGISTER WITH THE NGO Board of Malawi

The NGO Board of Malawi monitors activities of NGOs on behalf of Government under the NGO Act. It is therefore imperative that all NGOs register with the NGO Board if this responsibility is to be met. In registering with the NGO Board, the following requirements as per NGO Act should be fulfilled:

  • A filled prescribed form (available on request)
  • A constitution of the NGO
  • Payment of registration fees (prescribed by the board)
  • A plan of activities planned or intended to be carried out by the NGO,/lI.
  • Memorandum of understating (MOU) or any other agreement with the Ministry or Ministries responsible for the activities to be undertaken by the NGO concerned
  • Proof that the NGO is a member of CONGOMA A statement that the NGO will not engage in partisan politics
  • A statement on the sources of funding of the NGO


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