MONROVIA – Liberian businessman and politician, Simeon Freeman, is undoubtedly one of the most formidable entrepreneurs for the year 2020; he is recognized as the best businessman of 2020 in Liberia.
Simeon Freeman who runs the Consolidated Group Incorporated (CGI), service provider of DSTV in Liberia started his business venture in 1990 from scratch.
Coming from a poor parental background with father being member of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and mother being a 3rd Grade dropped out, Simeon with all of the wriggles in life and through the help of his poor parents managed to acquire his education.
Freeman with all of the challenges has managed through the business community to be a successful businessman by firstly moving the DSTV Liberia office from Benson Street in a rented building to its own five storey building in Fiamah worth about US$5 million.
Freeman in 2020 has revamped his Vist Water Company from 5,000 bottles to 30,000 bottles. The water factory is located in Stephen Tolbert Estate with more than 200 Liberians in the employ.
Mr. Freeman is also in the business of rock quarry (rock crusher). In December of last of year, the tough-talking businessman turned politician reduced the hardware price of DSTV for its customers from US$65 to 25, which enabled a lot of Liberians to afford and install DSTV at their various homes.
His consistency, strategy and desire for excellence as well as mechanism put together have moved him where he is today in live.
From the onset of his business, Mr. Freeman was involved into live cow business where he used to go to import cows from Guinea to Liberia. After several years of involvement into local businesses, Freeman then transitioned from the sale of live cows to the sale of computers and office materials.
Freeman being eager to excel in life and to improve his businesses, he also got involved in the sale of frozen food items where he later transitioned to the sale of used cars and used clothes in other to improve his business.
Freeman: “We have been able to do a lot in Liberia, for example we’ve been to expand our bottling facilities from 5000 per hour to 30, 000, we’ve been to transition a water bottler to a soft drink bottler which a significant investment and we’ve also been able to expand the factory facility to accommodate this new investment.
“In 2020 we been able to work with extended financers to acquire significant quantity of land to build the Freeman City which will be Liberia first plan city living. Our extended financers are here to work with us to see how this process going to be implemented, the architects are working on that to make this a success.”
More than a thousand housing units are expected to be constructed for the Freeman City that will accommodate over thousands of people in Liberia, he also disclosed.
Freeman so far has employed more than 500 direct employees at his DSTV and rock quarry company including the water producing factory. He disclosed that his investments in Liberia is targeting about a thousand persons to be directly employed while hundred are indirect employees.
He disclosed that his upgraded factory will target mainly women who are unemployed and underprivileged. Freeman passion for women has grown over the years after observing that there are many women who are single mothers with their kids’ fathers not being around, the factory is expected to provide job for those women mainly. “There are lots of women with babies and those babies’ fathers are not around so we want to be able to provide jobs those women,” he said.
Sourcing funding in Liberia is difficult, access to funding is expensive so, many times that could be a challenge to many businesses in Liberia, the second thing is mindset, our people need a lot of training when it comes to business, sometimes the mind set and he business environment and the willingness of our people to take responsibility is heavily challenged so in every respect is a serious challenge for every business.
He said one of the biggest challenge in the private sector is Human Resource where the needed skill for a particular job is needed but cannot be available, something that cause many foreigners with such skills trooping into Liberia to do the job Liberians supposed to do.
“As a country we are not investing into those areas to provide the necessary skills for the require jobs, that’s why the foreign guys when they even open a store or shops they bring in lot of foreigners because many at times Liberians are not skilled in such area.
“If we have a huge private sector, it will be able to provide a lot of jobs that people rile on government to provide , but to create that private sector government needs to help by providing funds with low interest rate to enable people with business ideal to take advantage. He said every sector needs a huge private sector for a stronger economy.
He said it was a great opportunity for him as an individual to be recognized as a businessman of the year, “That means you can be a politician and still be successful in business, the recognition is for lots of Liberians and not just Simeon Freeman.”