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Doing Business in SA

How to query details of ownership of commercial property?

The Deeds Registries Office in South Africa holds all records of property transactions.




Every property in South Africa has to be registered with the Deeds Registries Office in South Africa.

South Africa has one of the most advanced and professionally administered land registration systems in the world. It offers excellent record keeping in regard to the ownership of property, specifically with regard to the details of owners past and present, descriptions of the extent of the property and any limitations or rights on the property.

Deeds office

Every property in South Africa has to be registered with the Deeds Registries Office in South Africa. The deed constitutes proof of who owns the property. The deeds office keeps a record of all property transactions. If a title deed is destroyed or lost, application can be made to the deeds office for a duplicate original of the deed.

Checking details online

Deeds Web is a web-based interface offering up-to-date land registration information located on the Deeds Registration System database. This can assist in locating information with regard to the property in South Africa Property transfers are recorded by the Deeds Office under various categories, i.e. suburb, seller, street number, street name, stand number / portion number; stand size etc.

Even if you only have an address you should be able to find out who owns the land and what it is zoned for.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Doing Business in SA

Free Payslip And Contract Of Employment Template Download

Download your free payslip and contract of employment here to get you started in the right direction.

Menét Hamel




In your downloads you will find the following resources below:

1. A free payslip template with formula on how to calculate tax (PAYE), UIF, etc for a start-up business.

2. A standard contract of employment (template) that complies with all the relevant laws.

The payslip template is merely an example and should you need to have anything checked in terms of your remuneration structure, we can put them in contact with our remuneration specialists in Johannesburg, Tax Consulting.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Payroll & HR Solution Pay for Itself

Download your payslip template 

When launching your business you don’t want to be blindsided by the little but impactful costs, like PAYE or UIF. Ensure you have everything covered by using this payslip template.

Similarly, the permanent contract of employment should be read carefully and changes should be made in line with the offer of employment and the company policies and procedures. Please note the template provided is for a permanent placement.

Download your contract of employment template

When employing staff you should ensure the contract is legal and legally binding. Customise this contract of employment to suit your business and what you can offer your employees.

Related: How the Right Technology Makes DIY Payroll As Easy As 1-2-3

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Doing Business in SA

I would like to register an NPO. What should I know before I do?

A guide to registering a Non Profit Organisation.





The non-profit corporation exists solely to provide programs and services that are of public benefit such as the promotion of social welfare, economic development, religion, charity, education or research. Earnings may not benefit individuals or stake-holders.  It is known as a Section 21 company.

What is the difference between a NGO and an NPO?

An NPO is a Non-Profit Organisation while an NGO is simply a widely used term for various organisations that are not part of government, but focus on development, environment and human rights.

What are the steps involved in registering  an NPO?

All organisations that fall under the Non-Profit Organisations Act (NPO Act) must register as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) with the Department of Social Welfare.

Funding Option for Non-Profit Organisations

How the Funding Site can help you to fund your non-profit organisation.

Different types of NPO’s

The three most basic types of NPO’s are:

1. Voluntary Associations

The voluntary association is the most common legal form for not-for-profit organizations in South Africa. No office of registry exists for voluntary associations.

Forming a voluntary association requires only that three or more people agree to achieve a common goal, primarily other than making profits.

The agreement may be oral or written, though it is customary for the agreement to take the form of a written constitution. Voluntary associations are a product of the common law and are not regulated by statute.

2. Trusts

Trusts must register with the Master of the Supreme Court under the Trust Property Control Act, but may also voluntarily register under the NPO Act. Their founding documents are called Trust Deeds.

3. Section 21 Companies

Section 21 Companies register with the Registrar of Companies under the Companies Act, but may also voluntarily register under the NPO Act if they are NPOs. Their founding documents are called the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

The NGO  Starter Guide

SANGOCO (Umbrella body of South African NGOs) has produced an introductory guide on how to set up a non-profit organisation. This also contains advice specific to the different types of NPOs. The guide is called The NGO Starter Pack.

Which types of organisations can apply for NPO status?

Any organisation that is not for profit and is not part of government can apply for registration such as:

  • Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO)
  • Community Based Organisations (CBO)
  • Faith Based Organisations (FBO)
  • Organisations that have registered as Section 21 Companies under the Company Act 61 of 1973.
  • Trusts that have registered with Master of the Supreme Court under the Trust Property Control Act 57 of 1988.
  • Any other Voluntary Association that is not-for-profit

What does it cost to register an NPO?

To register a Non-profit Organisation is free of charge.

Is the registration of an NPO legally required?

Registering under the Non-profit Organisation Act is voluntary. If a trust registers as an NPO under the NPO Act (in addition to registering with the Master of the Court) it will become a body corporate with an independent legal personality.

Related: Lessons for Non-Profits from Bigger Businesses

The Companies Act says Section 21 companies to be accountable and transparent to the public. There is therefore no purpose in registering under the NPO Act unless the organisation wants to benefit from government benefits under the Act.

How long does it take to register an NPO?

It takes about two months to process the entire registration. As soon as the application is received, an acknowledgement letter is sent to the applicant, only after that the registration certificate will follow if the application meets the requirements of the NPO Act.

In order to register an NGO, contact the Department of Social Development in your area. Registration is free and it takes about two months to process. The Department of Social Development supplies application forms or you can download them.

Immediately on receipt of your application, an acknowledgement letter is sent, thereafter, a registration certificate follows if your application meets the requirement of the NPO Act.
Visit the Department of Social Development’s website for more information.

How to register a Section 21 company

To start a Section 21 company a memorandum and the articles of association have to be drawn up. The memorandum sets out the purpose of the NPO. The articles of association regulate how it operates. A typical memorandum and articles of association will contain clauses dealing with the following:

  • Name
  • The phrase ‘association incorporated not for gain’ must follow the name.
  • Statement of purpose: describing the main object and the main business of the company.
  • Powers of the company
  • Governance structure
  • Procedural clauses
  • Meetings, quorums, notice periods and so on
  • Financial control and reporting
  • Standard of conduct required of office bearers
  • Indemnity for officers acting in good faith

Ongoing reporting requirements

In order to be registered and then remain registered, a company is obliged to comply with the extensive formalities and ongoing reporting requirements of the Companies Act, including the following:

  • The company must appoint auditors and inform the Registrar of Companies of any change of auditors.
  • The company must appoint a registered address and inform the Registrar of any change of address.
  • The company must keep up-to-date registers of members and directors in the prescribed form.
  • The directors’ names must appear on all letters, catalogues and circulars distributed or published.
  • Directors must ensure that proper minutes and attendance registers are kept of all meetings.
  • The company must hold an annual general meeting in accordance with the prescribed procedures.
  • The company must keep financial and accounting records in the prescribed form, present these to the AGM of members and file them with the Registrar.
  • The directors’ report must be presented to the AGM.


The Companies Act states that Section 21 Companies to be accountable and transparent to the public. There is therefore no purpose in registering under the NPO Act unless the organisation wants to benefit from Government benefits under the Act.


Apply for tax exemption status through SARS

Tax exemption is not automatic and the directors must apply for exemption from SARS.  Section 21 Companies are subject to annual audits. To obtain a tax exemption status (Section 18A) visit your nearest SARS office or go to

Legal advice

It is recommended that you seek professional assistance to set up a Section 21 Company. If you cannot afford legal advice, there are free clinics that you can consult

Submitting the forms

You will find forms on the national website: To download this form go to NPO, then NPO Documents, then Application Form or phone +27 12 312 7500 and ask for the NPO Directorate. Otherwise any district office of the Department of Social Development/Social Services/Social Welfare will guide you.

On completion of the form, one copy of the completed application form and two copies of your constitution (if you are a voluntary organisation) must be sent with the application form. If your organisation is a Section 21 company then two copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association must be sent with your application form.

If you are a registered trust then two copies of the Deed of Trust must accompany the application form. Send the documents to Department of Social Development, Private Bag x901, Pretoria, 0001 or Human Science Research Council (HSRC) Building, Fifth Floor South 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria, 0001.

What happens if your application is rejected?

The Director must give you a written explanation as to why your application was not successful. You will be given a month to try and sort out the problems and then you can resubmit your application.

Related: 10 People Who Became Wildly Successful After Facing Rejection

If your application is still unsuccessful you will be given a reason in writing. Your organisation has the right to appeal against this decision if you think it’s unfair. An Appeal Tribunal will then hear your appeal.

What are the pros and cons of operating as an NPO?


  • Founding documents are available for public scrutiny
  • A NPO is publicly accountable. This creates trust so stakeholders will be more willing to work to grant loans or donate money
  • The liability of the organisation’s members and office-bearers is limited
  • The organisation has perpetual succession: it continues to exist even if its members and office-bearers change


  • You will need professional assistance to set up a company
  • The annual reporting requirements for companies are complex and extensive no particular reason for Section 21 companies to register in terms of the NPO Act.
  • In the future, if an NPO wishes to be eligible for government benefits (such as tax benefits) they may need to register


Your organisation can access funding from National Lotteries Trust, NDA and other agencies and you can also apply for tax exemption status with SARS.

Related: Sample NPO Business Plans

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Doing Business in SA

How Do I Become B-BBEE Compliant?

BEE (B-BBEE) is an important part of doing business in South Africa so its best that you understand every aspect about it. Use this comprehensive guide to ensure your business is compliant and performing at its best.

Nicole Crampton




Content in this guide

  • What Is Black Economic empowerment (BEE)
  • Why Is BEE Referred To As B-BBEE?
  • Who Must Comply With BEE?
  • Legislation
  • How To Qualify For BEE
  • Understanding What Each Pillar Means
  • What Are Codes Of Good Practice For Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment?
  • Levels (Of Compliance)
  • What Is SANAS?
  • Rating Process
  • What To Look For In A B-BBEE Partner

What is Black Economic empowerment (BEE)


Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is a government initiative aimed at increasing equity and uplifting black business owners, stakeholders and employees. The government refers to BEE as ‘positive discrimination’.

Related: The Murky Waters of BEE

BEE is the process by which previously disadvantaged South Africans have been empowered through the transfer of ownership. Compliance with BEE principles are regulated by Codes, which provide details on how BEE should be implemented.

Why is BEE referred to as BBBEE?


When Black Employment Equity (BEE) was first implemented in the nineties, there was no coherent strategy towards its implementation. When the South African Government gazetted updated Codes of Good Practice at the beginning of 2007, it made the implementation of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) a legal reality.

Related: What Is BBBEE?

Even though most think of Black Employment Equity as BEE, as the process was refined, its name changed to Broad-Based Black Employment Equity (B-BBEE) in order to encompass not just Blacks, but Coloured, Indians and the Chinese populations of South Africa.

Who Must Comply with BEE?


Size is relevant in determining the levels of B-BBEE compliance. All organs of state, public entities and any private enterprise that undertakes business with a public entity must implement the Codes.

Any business providing goods or services to another business that is subject to BEE (B-BBEE) compliance may also need to provide evidence of its own BEE (B-BBEE) compliance.

The size of your business is significant in determining the required levels of BEE (B-BBEE) compliance. The Codes provide for three levels of compliance based on the size of your business:

  • Exempted Micro Enterprises (EMEs), which are businesses with an annual turnover of less than R10 million. This is a new amendment, EMEs were previously businesses with an annual turnover of less than R300 000 and less than five staff members.
  • Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs), which are businesses with an annual turnover of between R10 to R50 million.
  • Medium to large enterprises (M&Ls), which are businesses with an annual turnover of more than R50 million.

Advantages of BEE compliance

  • Allows participation in the formal South African economy
  • Companies will favour you as a client, particularly those aiming to acquire at least 50% of annual procurement from companies with BEE (B-BBEE) certificates.
  • Able to bid for Government tenders, apply for licences, get permits and are favourably considered for procurements by the Public Sector and all BEE (B-BBEE) verified enterprises.
  • Have access to tax incentives and financial grants, specifically aimed at the BEE (B-BBEE) programme.
  • Avoid long questionnaires relating to BEE (B-BBEE) when tendering for a contract.

Legislation Governing B-BBEE


There are three important pieces of legislation that control B-BBEE, namely:

Employment Equity Act (1998)

The Employment Equity Act applies to black people, all women and disabled people, in addition, stipulates the requirements for affirmative action to ensure that qualified people from these groups are equitably represented in all occupational categories and levels of a company.

Related: The 5 Elements Of BBBEE

The Act is binding on any business that employs 50 or more staff, or that has an annual turnover of more than R2 million to R25 million (depending on the industry in which you operate).

Skills Development Act (1998) and Skills Development Levy Act (1999)

These provide a framework for improving the skills and employment prospects of black people.

These Acts also make it compulsory for certain employers to contribute a percentage of their payroll (known as the Skills Development Levy) to a fund that can be used to train staff.

The current generic B-BBEE scorecard awards points for skills development, but only for that which is over and above the payment of this levy.

Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (2000)

This allows any State entity to give preference to black people when awarding contracts. It also aims to boost SME development, create new jobs and promote local enterprises in specific provinces. Currently, the regulations of this Act are based largely on ownership, but this is likely to be revised in order to align it with the B-BBEE Act and Codes.

How to Qualify For BEE (B-BBEE)


There are four steps you’ll need to take to ensure you qualify for BEE (B-BBEE), including:

Step 1 – Select Your Company’s Annual Turnover

The size of your business is significant in determining the required levels of BEE (B-BBEE) compliance. The Codes provide for three levels of compliance based on the size of your business:

Exempted Micro Enterprises (EMEs), which are businesses with an annual turnover of less than R10 million. This is a new amendment, EMEs were previously businesses with an annual turnover of less than R300 000 and less than five staff members.

Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs), which are businesses with an annual turnover between R10 to R50 million.

Medium to large enterprises (M&Ls), are businesses with an annual turnover of more than R50 million.

Step 2 – Match the Turnover to the Scorecard

EMEs are exempt. However, these businesses will automatically receive a level associated with its percentage of black ownership, such as:

Black ownership BEE (B-BBEE) Status Level Procurement Recognition
100% Black Owned EME Level 1 135%
>50% Black Owned EME Level 2 125%
<50% Black Owned EME Level 4 100%

The annual turnover must be verified by an accredited accountant, auditor or rating agency.

QSE’s used to be able to choose four out of the seven BEE Scorecard elements to score their points. However, from 2014, QSEs must comply with all 5 elements of the revised BEE (B-BBEE) Scorecard to score their points.

M&L must comply with all 5 elements of the revised BEE (B-BBEE) Scorecard to score their points.

Related: Corporate BBBEE Compliance Turned Into BBBEE Investment

Step 3 – Determine the Number of Pillars Required For Your Scorecard

The five pillars of B-BBEE are:

  1. Ownership (Direct empowerment)
  2. Management Control (Indirect empowerment)
  3. Skills Development
  4. Enterprise Development
  5. Socio-Economic Development.

Step 4 – Select the Pillars For Your Scorecard

Each of the pillars is worth a certain ‘weight’ in its contribution to B-BBEE compliance. The pillars contribute to overall compliance as follows:

  • Ownership                25%
  • Management                19%
  • Skills Development            20%
  • Enterprise Development        40%
  • Socio-Economic Development     5%.

Ownership, skills development and enterprise development are now considered priority pillars and a minimum of 40% compliance is mandatory, in order to achieve level 1 B-BBEE.

Understanding What Each Pillar Means


It is important to understand the requirements of each pillar.

Ownership (counts 25 points)

When determining the level of black ownership, a business will score points based on the

  • The extent to which black people can influence the strategic direction of the business through their shareholding
  • The current net value of their shares
  • The amount of profit (percentage of each Rand) that accrues to all of these black shareholders.
  • Whether these shares are paid for in full, or will be within 10 years or less.
  • Bonus points are awarded if any of the black shareholders are new entrants (who have not previously benefited from a B-BBEE deal)

Management (counts 19 points)

This refers to the proportion of black people who control the direction of the business as well as those in top management who control day-to-day operations.

Skills Development (counts 20 points)

Skills development measures a business’s investment in the training and development of black employees. Only specific types of learning programmes and learnerships qualify when claiming points on the skills development scorecard.

Enterprise Development (counts 40 points)

If the business offers support programmes, then you can claim points on the scorecard. For example, if you donate a vehicle to one of your black company drivers so that he or she can start a delivery company, you qualify.

Socio-Economic Development (counts 5 points)

Companies that spend at least 1% of net profits after tax (NPAT) on Social-Economic Development (SED) are eligible for 5 points under this pillar.

Social-Economic Development (SED), however, is not Corporate Social Investment (CSI). SED’s criteria demands that those being assisted gain long-term access to the economy and receive a lasting benefit.

According to the definition in the legislature, any initiative should “facilitate income-generating activities”.

What Are Codes of Good Practice For Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE)?


The Codes of Good Practice refers to options that businesses can use in order to evaluate and track their B-BBEE efforts. Within the new B-BBEE regulations companies must meet specific targets. The codes are there to guide businesses into receiving an accurate rating, which it can include on the company profile.

The Codes of Good Practice are legally binding on all state and state-owned entities. These businesses have 10 years to reach this target, which means government will have to use the Codes to measure its B-BBEE compliance when choosing suppliers, granting licences or making concessions.

The cascade effect of this focus on B-BBEE compliant companies is that non-compliant businesses will find it hard to grow or maintain their level of business success within South Africa.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

On the other hand, private companies will also need to apply the codes if they want to do business with any government enterprise – in order to tender for business, apply for licences and concessions, enter into public-private partnerships or buy state-owned assets.

The Act is broken up into nine Subsections.

  • Code 000: Framework for Measuring Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment
  • Code 100: Measurement of the Ownership Element
  • Code 200: Measurement of the Management Control Element
  • Code 300: Measurement of the Employment Element
  • Code 400: Measurement of the Skills Development Element
  • Code 500: Measurement of the Preferential Procurement Element
  • Code 600: Measurement of the Enterprise Development Element
  • Code 700: Measurement of the Socio-Economic Development Element
  • Code 800: Measurement of Qualifying Small Enterprises.

Sector Codes Are an Extension of Codes of Good Practice

Companies must also be aware of Sector Codes, which are an extension of the Codes, but apply within a specified industry sector only.

For example, there is a Construction Sector Code (a new draft to appear in 2017), a Property Sector Code, Financial Sector Code and Tourism Sector Code.

Sector codes are industry-specific interventions and measures driven by major stakeholders in industries where the codes are developed.

Levels (Of Compliance)

B-BBEE Contribution Level “Old”
Scorecard Points
Scorecard Points
B-BBEE Procurement Recognition Level
1 ≥100 points ≥100 points 135%
2 ≥ 85 but < 100 ≥ 95 but < 100 125%
3 ≥ 75 but < 85 ≥ 90 but < 95 110%
4 ≥ 65 but < 75 ≥ 80 but < 90 100%
5 ≥ 55 but < 65 ≥ 75 but < 80 80%
6 ≥ 45 but < 55 ≥ 70 but < 75 60%
7 ≥ 40 but <45 ≥ 55 but <70 50%
8 ≥ 30 but < 40 ≥ 40 but < 55 10%
Non-Compliant < 30 < 40 0%

Customers (public and private) will prefer to interact and procure from companies with higher B-BBEE status (for its own recognition), level 1 being the ultimate goal. These are the current B-BBEE status levels:

What Is SANAS?


The South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) is recognised by the South African Government as the single National Accreditation Body that gives formal B-BBEE recognition.

A B-BBEE Certificate can be issued by any Verification Agency so long as they are approved to do so by SANAS. The Certificate can only be issued once a full verification has been performed and the documentation presented by your company has been verified.

SANAS certificates are a formal recognition that an organisation is competent to perform specific tasks.

Related: Three Things You Need To Know About BBBEE Now

Ratings Agencies must perform the assessments strictly according to the guidelines set out by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). On successful completion it will issue a certificate with the Level (1-9) of BEE (B-BBEE) compliance appropriate to your enterprise.

  • A certificate will be issued, which is relevant to all companies requesting it.
  • B-BBEE must be validated by a SANAS accredited verification agency.
  • Self-accreditation is no longer recognised or accepted.

B-BBEE Rating Process


The rating process only applies to QSEs and M&L’s:

Step 1: Application, Approval and Payment

  • Measured Entity (ME) requests an Application Form
  • Client Manager sends Application Form to ME
  • ME completes and returns Application Form to Client Manager
  • Client Manager sends Application Form to Verifications Manager
  • Verifications Manager reviews and approves application against prescribed criteria.
  • Client Manager sends Quotation and/or Invoice to ME.
  • ME approves quote and pays commitment fee (65% of quoted/Invoiced amount).

Step 2: Pre-site Visit and Legal Processes

  • Client Manager prepares and sends SLA and other contracts for signature by ME
  • Lead Analyst visits ME for a briefing, to explain the verification process and to agree on Verification Plan, Team and deadlines.
  • ME prepares all required documents and sends them to Client Manager.
  • Client Manager signs-off Document Register acknowledging receipt and hands documents over to Lead Analyst.

Related: Enterprise Development Programmes For Black Entrepreneurs

Step 3: Analysis, Site visit, Reporting and Certification

  • Lead Analyst performs a basic analysis and measures entity against scorecard.
  • Lead Analyst visits ME on site for Verification as agreed on Verification Plan.
  • Lead Analyst prepares Verification Report and Recommendation for Verifications Manager.
  • Verifications Manager performs Vertical Assessment and Quality Assurance on report and then approves recommendation report.
  • Client Manager sends Verification Report and Rating to ME for approval.
  • ME approves Verification Report and Rating.
  • Verifications Manager issues a Rating Certificate and Final Report.
  • Client Manager sends Rating Certificate and Final Report to ME.

Who Should Manage B-BBEE Processes In a Business?

The best way to structure the management process is as follows:

  • Chief Executive Officer – Ownership and Management Control
  • Chief Financial Officer – Preferential Procurement and Enterprise Development
  • Employment Equity Committee – Socio-economic Development, Skills Development and Employment Equity.

The Employment Equity Committee needs training, as they are likely to have limited experience in making strategic recommendations to the CEO on these issues. The CEO should sit in the Employment Equity Committee along with someone with HR experience.

Did You Know?

Unlike State-owned entities, private companies are free to develop their own procurement policies, which may include different criteria and different weightings to that of the generic B-BBEE scorecard.

What to Look For In a B-BBEE Partner


When looking for a new partner, specifically for B-BBEE, companies arguably rush through the process.

This could leave your business open to having two unaligned partners at the top, trying to force the business into opposite directions, thinking that they each know what’s right for the company.

Every successful business partnership needs three things:

  1. Someone who can add value to your business
  2. Operate in a growing industry
  3. Bringing additional finances or resources to the table.

A good partnership won’t happen overnight; it could take you up to 18 months to work out the details with your new B-BBEE partner. So, using it as an eleventh-hour attempt to save your business or when there’s a big tender on the line, might not work out for you.

Related: BBEEE partnerships – what you need to know

To be successful, it’s better to go into this process with the right motives. A great B-BBEE partnership is mutually beneficial and based on growth potential for all involved.

Align Vision and Values

Partner with someone who shares your vision and values in business. Both partners need to be clear on their roles within the business and what they will need to contribute towards the business.

Like all great partnerships, a B-BBEE partnership is also built on alignment. You want a partner who will bring critical skills, experience, knowledge or maybe resources to the table.

Having a partner who is only fronting can damage your business’ reputation. Fronting is when you have a partner in name only in order to qualify for a higher B-BBEE level.

Searching For the Right Partner

Networking in the wrong environment can be detrimental, just like networking in the right environment can be advantageous to you and your business.

Ask people you trust for advice or if they know someone who is compatible with you and your work style. You’ll need to approach this as a long-term endeavour as it takes time to find the right person.

Once you’ve found your new partner, structure the best deal possible through a top notch legal team. This will protect both parties if the partnership doesn’t work out. Include roles and responsibilities within the contract, so everyone is accountable, and knows what will result should the endeavour fail.

Related: 10 Dynamic Black Entrepreneurs

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