How to establish an NGO in Ethiopia

Both foreign and local NGOs can be established in Ethiopia. However, knowing the requirements for establishment is necessary in order to be registered with the Government of Ethiopia and operate legally. It is also helpful to understand what type of organizations are defined as NGOs and what do they do? This will help one to see if the intended organization to be established falls within the defined category and if so how to go about establishing the ‘NGO’ within the country.


NGOs are:

 ·          Voluntary organizations established voluntarily with the commitment to help disadvantaged or marginalized sectors of society;

·          Not-for-profit (not self-serving) organizations established not to gain profit or any sort of income but instead to support and help less fortunate communities and members of society with little or no income

·          Non Governmental organizations established in such a way that any support they appeal for or secure is undertaken independently (independent from Government).

Types of NGOs

NGOs operating in Ethiopia could be categorized into two main categories:

1.      Indigenous NGOs

These are NGOs established in the country by either Ethiopians or non-Ethiopians

2.      International NGOs

These are NGOs, which have their head offices abroad and obtain support from those offices

Again from within these NGOs another category could be established:

1.      Secular NGOs

2.      Religious NGOs

Sectoral classification of NGOs is also possible, i.e. NGOs focusing on various sectors such as water, health, children, integrated rural/urban development, etc.

Establishment of NGOs within Ethiopia

Both Foreign and Local NGOs can be established in Ethiopia by registering with the Ethiopian Government. However, the requirements for registration of each differ slightly.

(A) Registration Guideline for Foreign (international) NGOs

Any foreign NGO, which intends to carry out activities, shall produce its written application to the NGO Registration Office at the Ministry of Justice.

The Office will provide four copies of an application form to be filled by the applicant (applying organization).

The applicant ought to fill out carefully all the questions and in addition, is expected to produce:

1.                  An authenticated certificate that shows the applicant is registered in its country of origin as a non-profit making organization.

2.                  An authenticated memorandum of association (constitution or article of association of statues or by-laws) of the applicant organization by which its contemporary activities are governed. This authenticated memorandum of association shall be produce to the Office together with three copies of an Amharic version of the memorandum.

3.                  An authenticated letter of authorization for the country representative.

4.                  An authenticated boards decision to operate in Ethiopia.

5.                  A project proposal, in three copies, showing the intended project to be performed.

6.                  Documents showing the applicant’s (applicant NGOs’) work experience and performances in other countries (if any).

7.                  Awards and letter of good performances from recognized organization(s) (if any).

8.                  Letter of confirmation from its financiers (donors) explaining that they would finance the applicant if registered.

9.                  In case the applicant NGO has made an agreement with any government body, it has to produce activity and financial report of a previous year in three copies.

10.             An agreement document, if the applicant has previously entered any such agreement with the government.


Whenever the need arises, the NGO Registration Office has the right to request the applicant further information necessary to effect registration.

(B) Registration Guideline for Local (indigenous) NGOs

Any local NGO, which intends to carry out activities, shall produce its written application to the NGO Registration Office at the Ministry of Justice.

If established in Ethiopia and is led by Ethiopians and operates in more than one Region of the country or its donor (s) supports programs found in more than one Region, the following will be required by the applicant NGO:

1.      Three copies of the applicant NGOs’ memorandum of association and bye-laws signed by the founders of the NGO.

2.      One copy each of the Curriculum Vitiate (CV) of each founding member.

3.      Along with each CV, one copy of the latest evidence of educational level, letter of confirmation from the Kebele upon being an inhabitant of that particular Kebele and two photographs should be attached.

4.      Three copies of a project proposal the applicant NGO intends to carry out upon registration. 

5.      Letter of confirmation from the financer (donor) of the applicant NGO of continued support upon registration.

6.      If the applicant NGO is already operational it should,

·           Present an agreement letter with the relevant government body; and

·           Three copies of the last annual and audit report together with current operational report.


·            Whenever the need arises, the NGO Registration Office has the right to request the applicant for further information necessary to effect registration.

·            As there are samples of Memorandum of Association in the Office, applying NGOs could refer to these.


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