Liberia: Former Ghana’s Liberian Refugee High School Teacher Graduates from Business School

Graduate John Freeman Zurbah

MONROVIA – Former History Teacher on Ghana’s Liberian refugee camp, Buduburam, Mr. John Freeman Zurbah,   has graduated with additional entrepreneurial knowledge from Liberia-based STRIVE’s Business Development Program, located along the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTC) road, in Thinker’s Village, in the Roberts International Airport Community. He was the president of the Class.

By Samuel G. Dweh, Freelance Journalist, +231 (0) 776583266

The graduation ceremony was Saturday, January 31, 2023.

On refugee camp, Mr. Zurbah taught History, in the Senior High Section, at the Buduburam Refugee School (BRS)—the host-Government-created school for Liberian refugees from 1990 to the technical closure of the refugee camp following election of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as first post-war Head of State in 2006.

This writer was one of his students.

He combined teaching at the refugee camp’s Grade School with teaching  “Business Setup and Management” at the International Rescue Committee (IRC)-sponsored Business and Technical Skills School for refugees who wanted to go into the technical area of education.

In Liberia, Mr. Zurbah worked at Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC)

“Foreigners are controlling Liberia’s economy because majority of Liberians prefer white-collar job, or office job, and because majority of Liberians in business do not put much of their time in running of their businesses,” Mr. Zurbah lamented during his ‘Class President’s remarks’.

He recalled similar thing happening in the 1960’s, when he was a young man living with his parents.

“During those days, Indians, Lebanese, Syrians, and many other foreign business people of other foreign countries were controlling our Country’s economy, due to factors similar to what we are seeing in current times,” he said.

He called the names of popular business establishments he claimed are owned by foreigners.

“Boulevard Hotel! Royal Grand Hotel! Kendeja Resort!” he said in a tone of disappointment. The first two business centers are located in Sinkor, in the heart of Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia, while the third, Liberia’s pre-war Cultural Center, is few kilometers from where the STRIVE’s graduation program was held.

At the concluding stage of his ‘Class president’s speech’, former Ghana’s refugee advised each member of the graduating class to spend much of their time reading business-related Books. He showed the audience a copy a Book, about Business, titled “Start With What You Have”, written by a Nigerian named Sam Adeyemi.

Twenty-three persons graduated—six females and eighteen males.

The main part of the program started with a body of panelists announcing contest for the graduating class on “pitching of a business idea to the public, which would attract patrons and lull a higher number of customers”. Members of the Panel were: Lorenzo Kwion (Head of Panelists’ body), Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Inspire World Holding Company; Mr. Nimley Sayeh, President of National Association of Foreign Exchange Bureaus of Liberia; Isaac Z. Zuo, Finance Officer, Universal Outreach Foundation (the major sponsor of the STRIVE’s Business School); and David K. Sinatue, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of DKS Incubation Center and the Lead Facilitator of the STRIVE’s Business Development Program (SKDP)

“We, panelists, are neutral in this segment of the graduation program. One of the areas we will be interested in is how each contestant can overcome other business competitors on comparative advantage or outstanding business idea pitching methods. Prizes of this contest are as follow: thirty thousand Liberian dollars for the first-place winner; twenty-two thousand, five hundred dollars for the second-place winner; and fifteen thousand dollars for the third-place winner,” the Panelists’ group head explained to the contestants and the general audience.

The Contestants were: Lincoln Myers, founder of business center into sale of agricultural products; Rita Sheriff, founder of “Rita Hair Care Service” (located in Thinker’s Village); Nathan A. Kolliemee, founder of Comfort’s Farms (located in Patala Kpaoi District, Bong County); Darius Dolo, founder of D & W Laundary Business (located in VOA Community); and Melvina Walker, founder of the Melvina Walker Business Center (located in Duarzon, Lower Margibi County)

Contestant Lincoln Myers said he is a Final Year Agriculture student at the University of Liberia. He talked about various kinds of goods, in terms of perishable status, and how to preserve each.  

Contestant Rita Sheriff said she and her employees work from the Business Center and offer service in client’s home on the person’s conference. For advertisement of her business, she has opened a Social Media (Facebook) platform. She mentioned financial constraint as a major barrier to her business.

Contestant Nathan   A. Kolliemee presented on the topic, “Saved Future Farms”, with focus on Pigs, snails, and chicken. He declared: “These things are major delicacies of majority of Liberians, majority of Liberian farmers do not invest in farming of them, and Liberian business people spend over nine hundred thousand US dollars for importing them.” He said the Facebook is one of advertisement channels for his business.

 Contestant Darius Dolo said he started laundry business when he couldn’t get white collar job after he graduated from African Methodist Episcopal University (located on Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia)

“I started with washing other people’s clothes at my house or their houses. Now, I have my own laundry company, and have employed other people. We wash clients’ clothes at your business center and go to customers’ homes to work on their preferences,” he said. For advertisement, he said his business can be seen on Facebook.

Contestant Melvina Walker said she is into the phones sale business, and that she started the business when she noticed many of her neighbors going to other communities to buy phones. audience. “For now, I am alone on this business.”

After the business pitching-related presentations, three of the contestants were called on the stage as winners of the cash prizes, according to each person’s impression of the panelists on his or her ‘persuasive pitching ideas’. The first-prize amount went to contestant Lincoln Myers; the second-prize went to contestant Rita Sheriff; contestant Darius Dolo clenched the third prize.

 “This is the second batch of students trained by this School,” the School’s Coordinator, Madam Angea Tarlo Davis, announced to the visiting participants.  “Out-going graduates, please be the Foot Soldiers of the STRIVE’s Business Development Program to other people to come and be trained in business knowledge as you had done,” she added.

During an exclusive interview with this writer, she gave the meaning of “Hub” on the publicity banner of the program. “The hub refers to the place of learning”

The Country Director of Universal Outreach Foundation, the sole sponsor of the Strive Business School, advised the outgoing students to look only to God for their respective successes in their business endeavors.

Other institutional partners of the school made remarks. One of them was Liberia Entrepreneurial Network, represented by its Secretary General Mr. Joseph S.K. Pambu, Jr. He said, he’s a Fellow of the Tony Emelu Foundation, founded by a financially wealthy Nigerian named Tony Emelu.

He told the graduating class that “disappointment is part of a new business person’s journey,” on the fact that, he added, he or she won’t get money to start a business at the time he or she wishes to start. “But, hope and practical hard work will haul the money toward you,” he added.

The certificates presentation component of the graduation program was done by Madam Clara Doe-Mago, former Mayor of Monrovia City Corporation (MCC)