A Dutch Guide for Starting a Business in Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone Netherlands Business and Culture Council (SLNBCC) promotes trade and bilateral relations between Sierra Leone and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aside from promoting trade and business, SLNBCC strives to create a fair, credible and reliable business interaction between individuals and companies of these two nations.

The sole purpose of this article is to inform future or current companies and individuals with interest in starting a business in Sierra Leone about the possible pitfalls. There have been some instances where individuals or companies were proved to be unauthentic, having a well-designed and structured internet presence but failing to have a credible offline presence after investigation. 

When starting a business in Sierra Leone, it is best advised to seek information from the appropriate Embassy or Consulate. In addition to providing you with the relevant information, they could also connect you to their trusted network. This point cannot be emphasized enough when you reach out to the embassy or representative, you are letting them know from the beginning and thus, they could guide you better.

When you need information about investing in a particular sector in Sierra Leone or you need local partners, your case could be easily forwarded to SLNBCC. In a sense, you are creating a web of trust and it would be easier to hold people accountable if things go wrong. If you indecently contact a company without having the company verified, then you are putting yourselves in great risk. If the business goes well then you are safe, but if in turn it does not, then there comes the tussle. Stay on the safe side and contact the designated authorities.

Doing business in Sierra Leone is not like doing business in the Netherlands. The mistake you can make as a company is by shutting potential partners down because they do not have a website or the current website that they have is substandard. Technology in Sierra Leone is still at an infancy stage and businesses in this country can be fully operational without having a website. This is more so when a large percentage of their clientele are Sierra Leoneans. Even when they do have a website, it could also be a basic website and what you see there is not the end-all and be all of the company.

The companies with professional websites are either international companies or they are seeking or already have international partners or clientele. The downside of this though is that a company could use their website as a bait to lure in foreign companies, and whatever is advertised on the website is a mere façade. The best advice in such a scenario is to have a company verified and this could only be done when you contact the embassy.

Always remember to do these three things:

  • Always consult the Dutch Embassy, they have your interest at heart
  • Websites should not be used as the only yardstick to measure the authenticity of a company
  • Thoroughly verify a company

by Memuna Bayoh (SLNBCC)