Monday 6 July 2009

Akin Konsult gets registered in less than 35

Hardly doing business smoothly

Just about a year ago, a report was published about the cost of doing business around the globe from the basic registration of the entity through to getting elements together to make that business function.

The bottleneck impeding the smooth transaction of business registration is the bureaucracy that underpins the system in most cases, but bureaucracies do not have to be all that bad. Properly managed and efficient bureaucracies do exist and function like clockwork.

For instance, with the basic information of being a single man with a salary, a mortgage and no other extraneous liabilities; I file my taxes online from inception to completion in less than 25 minutes, if it takes an hour for anyone else, they must be filing for team.

“Den say” to nothing happening

So, I finally decided to form a company and register one in the Netherlands where I live, the residual Nigerian in me trying to allay concerns about the process immersed myself in asking questions and seeking first-hand information from others.

I sunk into the “den say” complex – “den say” {A pidgin English translation of they said, they being anyone and everyone} the process of accumulating information from everywhere but authenticated verifiable sources till you have enough to knock the courage and boldness out of you to do what should be done. Read this in the light of the residual Nigerian lurking in my seemingly Western outlook.

This silly situation basically kept me from doing this stuff for months because I was waiting to have my hand held through the process when I could have just read up on the stuff in the first place.

Get on with it, yourself

Anyway, I finally went to the company registration website and immediately found the forms I needed to fill for a sole proprietorship – in English.

Bless these people, the English end of the form was filled in and it automatically filled in the official Dutch version so you just got it right – thankfully, ICT Consultant translates to ICT Consultant in Dutch, the aspect of design, architecture and development is easily done with a quick chat on MSN Messenger with a friend and we were done.

I printed out the form and left it a while until I was overcome with shingles, but it was at the back of my mind. Meanwhile, I had a chat to a friend who had just finished a company registration last week, it was a positive ”den say”.

All the help and more

So, this afternoon, as I realised I had strength to do something, I left home for the Kamer van Koophandel (KvK), namely, the Chamber of Commerce which is a few hundred metres from the Central Station in Amsterdam.

As I got to the KvK, I asked in English about company registrations, the friendly receptionist immediately gave me a VAT form to go with my company registration and a ticket signifying my turn in the queue with a warning that it might take 15 minutes to get called. I think I arrived there at just before half-past three in the afternoon – they close at 5 o’ clock.

I filled in the financial projections for the VAT registration and wondered, I had just walked into the Chamber of Commerce a foreign not speaking the lingo to register my company and it would be done in minutes without having had any money exchanging hands to get in the queue, having some urchin demand something to see my forms and then dismiss them out-of-hand because palms have not been greased.

I snapped out of that trance quickly enough to realise, I am in the Netherlands not Nigeria and my number came up E42. He asked if I could speak Dutch, I said badly, and he replied, no problem, we help as many languages as we can speak.

All done in 35 or less

No tension, as we entered his office, he asked if I was registered with the local government, I thought I was, I have been paying council taxes for years, the payer is definitely no ghost.

I produced the forms and my identity, a British passport as I explained the difference between England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom which consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – lots of light hearted banter, I signed the form and my company was registered, within 5 minutes, I had the confirmation that I own and run Akin Konsult, an ICT consultancy as a business entity in the Netherlands.

Another 10 minutes, the process had been completed for my VAT registration all in one go and at one basic cost that did not exceed EUR 30.

In all, I probably spent 35 minutes from the time I walked in the KvK and left the proud owner of a fully registered sole proprietorship all managed and steered by people who are a members of a bureaucracy no doubt but are satisfied with their jobs, willing to help, very friends, deftly efficient and quite knowledgeable about their tasks.

Most importantly, they were doing me no favours and they were asking for no favours, they were just doing their jobs and I left extremely impressed with what should be an everyday circumstance anywhere in the world.

I would indeed want to find out the experiences of company registrations in other countries especially the one that leaves the residual Nigerian awakened from dormancy when it should have been extinct.

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