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Public Benefits Organisations Act

The Preamble Of The Act Recognises The Role That The Public Benefits Organisations (PBOs) Play In Society For Public Good, Supporting Development And Providing Ways That Contribute To Improved Public Governance.

The Act Provides For The Formation, Operations And Growth Of PBOs, Establishment Of a Regulatory And Institutional Framework Within Which PBOs Can Conduct Their Affairs.

Section 5 defines a Public Benefit Organisation as a voluntary membership or non-membership grouping of individuals or organisations which is:

  • Autonomous (acting independently),
  • Non-partisan (not biased),
  • Non-profit making,
  • Organised and operated locally, nationally or internationally,
  • Engages in public benefit activities,
  • Is registered by the Public Benefits Organisations Authority.

Section 20  provides for the right to freedom of association. This is in line with the spirit of Article 36 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and hence the Act contributes to the realisation of this right.

Section 20 (1) states that every organisation has the freedom to:

  1. Join in, associate with other organisation(s) as it may desire and to participate in making a forum of Public Benefit Organisation,
  2. Join a forum of Public Benefit Organisation,
  3. Exit a forum of Public Benefit Organisation.

Section 20 (2)  states that every organisation which is a member of a forum has a right to:

  1. Participate in its lawful activities,
  2. Participate in the election of its officials and representatives.
  • Section 4 on the other hand creates obligations upon the government towards public benefits organisations. Section 4 (1) states that apart from respecting the freedom of association and assembly, the government should provide an enabling environment for the formation and operation of public benefit organisations.
  • Section 4 (2) further provides that every state organ shall design their policies in a manner designed to promote, support and provide an enabling environment public benefit organisations to perform their functions.
  • Under Section 6 and 7, PBOs have to be registered in order to enjoy the benefits that accrue under the Act.
  • Section 8 (1) requires that an application be made to the Public Benefits Organisations Authority.
  • Section 8 (2) gives a list of documents that should accompany the application. They are:
  1. A copy of the constitutive document of the PBO,
  2. Names and addresses of the funders of the PBO,
  3. Proposals of the public benefit organisation on the organisation and operation of the activities that it shall engage in,
  4. Postal and physical address of the place of doing business by the PBO,
  5. The prescribed fee,
  6. Other particulars that are required to determine whether the organisation meets the requirements for registration.
  • Section 8 (3) provides that an international non-governmental organisation may register as a PBO by filing the following documents:
  1. An application form,
  2. Proof that it is a legal entity in another country,
  3. The organisation’s address in Kenya,
  4. A written statements from  representative of the organisation’s headquarters with authority to provide such statement stating-
  1. The purposes of the international non-governmental organisation,
  2. A general description of the activities that the organisations intend to carry out in Kenya,
  3. Name, address and other contact information of the authorised agent.
  • Under Section 9, the Authority will consider applications for registration and either register the PBO or reject the application within 60 days.
  • If application is not compliant, the Authority under Section 9 (2) shall notify the applicant ‘forthwith’ and give reasons for the decisions and a period not exceeding 30 days during which the applicant should comply with the requirements.
  • Upon registration, a PBO is a body corporate and certificate constitutes conclusive evidence of authority to operate throughout Kenya as specified in the PBO’s constitution.
  • Under Section 11, international organisations can apply for a ‘certificate to operate’ in Kenya. Upon receipt of such application, the Authority may both exempt the organisation from registration and grant it a permit to operate in Kenya if the organisation does not intend to directly implement any programs in Kenya or it may require the organisation to apply for registration as an international organisation.

Section 16 (2) states that refusal of registration to be communicated to the applicant within 14 days of the decision. Under Section 17 any aggrieved person may apply to the Tribunal for review of its decision within 30 days of receiving the written notice of the decision. The Tribunal is required to make the decision within 60 days of filing the appeal.

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