Monrovia – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its partners from the Ministries of Commerce and Internal Affairs have been taking stock of achievements and challenges over a one-year period under the UNDP funded Business Opportunities and Support Services (BOSS) project.
The project is also going through a transition as international volunteers recruited to provide services are turning over to nationals who have benefited from several months of mentorship.
At a transition meeting held in Buchanan Grand Bassa County, 12th-14th March, with Stakeholders and partners as well as Coordinators from County Service Centers in the four counties where the Boss Project is being piloted (Bong, Nimba, Margibi and Grand Bassa), participants discussed progress, threats and plans for the future.
Discussants highlighted issues of sustainability, value chain, national ownership, networking, coordination, best practices among others.
National staff and International volunteers have over the period worked with local business owners in the four Counties, providing training in business development skills and providing guidance to entrepreneurs during their business registration processes as part of efforts aimed at helping to promote Liberian owned (rural) businesses development.
They provided coaching and mentoring to over 200 businesses in the counties, and conducted training of trainers (TOT) for 20 local business development service providers and business development training for 100 entrepreneurs plus the 20 TOT trainees.
“They prepared me to plan, keep a record of my business, how to talk to my customers. Now I know that business pays when you know how to plan, keep a good record and talk to your customers,” says Seamstress Josephine Gono, 23 and one of the beneficiaries of the BOSS Training in Nimba County.
BOSS has been described as a Flagship Program for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
The Director for Capacity Development, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Commerce Samuel Jacobs expressed appreciation to the International UNVs for their contributions to the project and urged the national staffs to take seriously the responsibility transferred to them.
“BOSS will remain on your CVs as you move ahead in your respective careers” Mr. Jacobs noted.
UNDP Team Leader for Sustainable Economic Transformation Program, Dorsla Farcathy lauded the IUNVs for their invaluable services despite the challenges and admonished national staff to strive to achieve greater results under the project.
“I’m happy to hear that businesses are flooding the BOSS Centers to do their business registration and for other supports” Farcarthy mentioned.
The BOSS Project works in close conjunction with the County Service Centers (CSC) under the Decentralization Program. CSC Coordinators at the transition meeting hailed UNDP and its partners for the level of work being done under the BOSS Project and called on national government to take ownership of such initiative and galvanize the needed support to ensure its sustainability.
On behalf of the International Volunteers, Esperance Uwimana lauded the support received from the Ministry of Commerce and the opportunity provided by UNDP to transfer knowledge and engage local communities to help boost their businesses.
“Thank you for this opportunity to see value added” Esperance intimated.
“We have learned a lot from our international counterparts and are prepared to continue to work hard for better results. Beneficiaries are now making maximum use of our business clinic” says national staff James Gblee from Nimba County.
The BOSS Project enhances decentralization and supports policy implementation of micro and small enterprises development.
According to the National Project Manager, Marcus Zarway, one of BOSS Project priorities in this year is to help rural small business owners get access to finance (through start-up funds and/or bank loans) and properly manage the repayments where applicable to remain sustainable.
This is a welcome activity, seeing as many small businesses lack capital, which stifles any potential growth.