USAID Pledges to Support Local Businesses in Liberia

Monrovia – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pledged to continue to support local businesses in Liberia as the mandate of the Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) expires in the country.

The objective of IBEX’s four years mandate was to build the capacity of partner banks to fully utilize USAID’s Development Credit Authority risk guarantee and provide technical assistance to borrowers at small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Now that the tenure of IBEX’s mandate has expired, the mission director of USAID, Dr. Anthony S. Chan, says there is an enormous scope for investment in local businesses in Liberia, saying micro, small and medium sized enterprises are critical to providing employment.

He noted that USAID has strengthened enterprises in hospitality, construction, transportation, general merchandise, and healthcare.

Director Chan said through IBEX, USAID has taken a strategic and comprehensive approach to business development in Liberia, focusing on empowering local small businesses. According to him the objectives of IBEX are aligned with the priorities identified by the Government of Liberia under the Agenda for Transformation.

The USAID envoy noted that IBEX has been working hard to assist small local businesses and to secure and strengthen access to credit for over 1,000 small businesses in Liberia.

Speaking at the climaxing ceremony of IBEX at a local hotel, Dr. Chan disclosed that over US$8million dollars in credit was approved and a little over US$7million was disbursed to agribusiness, renewable energy, hospitality, construction, USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) as well as non DCA supported loans.

He said IBEX trained 99 business development services (BDS) providers and over 300 financial services professionals, including bankers and microfinance officers in technical topics such as agriculture lending, financing renewable energy project, and loan underwriting criteria.

Director Chan noted that IBEX has set a great example of how to work with and engage small businesses and the private sector to develop the strong partnership that is needed to enhance their investment in developing Liberia.

“I believe that IBEX achievements will play an important role in the development of MSMEs, and therefore, in the stability and prosperity of Liberia. USAID remains committed to supporting local businesses and we look forward to further working with partners and the GOL in these endeavors,” he noted.

IBEX Chief-of-Party, Watchen Harris Bruce, commended her hardworking staffs for being committed to the job throughout the four years IBEX has been in existence. She praised the USAID for providing the necessary funding for IBEX to keep the program running.

Recently at a workshop, a group of local businesses was formed into a consortium to lead business growth in Liberia.

The Consortium of Business Service Providers was constituted at the end of two day training for business service providers at a local hotel in Monrovia. The training was conducted by USAID Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX).

After the workshop, business representatives conducted an election to elect an interim leadership that will spearhead the activities of the Consortium until a proper and well organized election is conducted.

The interim leadership of the consortium was drawn from participants who attended the training. The consortium will replace IBEX as its mandate expires.

The interim leadership of the consortium has been inducted into office to fully start operations in the absence of IBEX.

The leadership was inducted into office by IBEX Chief of party at a program marking the closing of the IBEX mandate in Liberia at the Mamba Point hotel.

The Consortium is charged with the responsibility of building a network of professional service providers in the business development sector and elevating the conversation of business development across sectors.

The formation of the consortium is an exit strategy of the organization as it ends its mission in May this year. Madam Bruce said she will introduce the consortium to all government ministries, agencies and other partners.

Those elected to head the consortium are William Dennis of the Business Start-up Center as Chairman, Samuel Thompson of the Agency of Economic Development and Empowerment as Co-Chairman and Augustus Flomo of IBEX as Secretary.

Others are Edwina Lincoln of Business Link as Assistant Secretary, Natty B. Davis of Devin Incorporated as Advisor on Institutional Affairs and Sophiatou Colliee of Pact Liberia as Advisor on Legal Affairs.

Edwin G. Genoway, Jr. – edwin.genoway@fronpageonline.com

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