A group of bankers including senior and middle-level bank managers and owners of several Liberian-own small and medium enterprises (SMEs) Thursday, May 1, began a two-day “Basic Impact Investing” opportunity seminar in Monrovia to boost their entrepreneurial skills.
Banks participating in the seminar included the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), Guaranty Trust Bank, Ecobank Liberia Limited and International Bank Limited, amongst others. They were joined by the World Council of Credit Union (WOCCU) an, international credit union providing access to finance to SMEs in several developing economies in the world and a host of Liberian-owned SMEs, amongst others.
The two-day seminar is organized by the US Agency for International Development-USAID-funded Liberia Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) Program, implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), which supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in accessing commercial bank financing in the country.
The workshop is aimed at teaching participants how to better understand the impact of investment and how it differs from traditional investment and what tools they would need to find investment capital for businesses.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the seminar, which is being held at a local hotel in Monrovia, the independent consultant, founder and principal strategist for Impact Investors in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Bob Bragar, said the impact of investing is about bringing money to Liberia to expand job and SMEs in ensuring that most business entrepreneurial can invest more capital to SME businesses that are in need of capital.
Mr. Bragar, however, noted that it is good to know who your investors are, because, according to him, “they have committed themselves to upholding ethical principles in finance.”
He hinted participants that the reason the seminar was organized by IBEX is because he, Bragar, wants Liberians to understand what impact investing is, adding that there is an international capital available for impact investors.
According to him, donor funding is different from impact investment, which he said is all about business set-up.
Mr. Bragar further disclosed that there is strong desire of USAID-IBEX to ensure that Liberian business entrepreneurs gain the required knowledge that would better their businesses.
He observed that lot of people are lacking information that they need to know in order to boost the Liberian economy.
Mr. Bragar insisted that investors needed to be motivated in order to increase their expectations.
“You need to understand the different motivations and kinds of investors, because they would set-up tunes that you will have to dance to,” Mr. Bragar told participants.
In the investing world, it also means creating good structures to ensure that the business is properly “governed,” and as such there should be an independent, qualified and engaged board of directors that would manage the businesses.
At the same time, the international consultant urged participants to be prepared at any time to show solid financial history and projections of their businesses.
For her part, Madam Watchen Harris Bruce, Chief of Party for USAID Liberia Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) reiterated that her institution is ready to address some of the constraints SMEs are facing in getting access to finance.
Madam Bruce further said that people needed to know what the banks require and what they needed to present to investors before getting access to loan.
Meanwhile, one of the participants thanked the facilitator and organizer of the workshop and assured that they will put into practice whatever new knowledge they are going to learn from the seminar.
The seminar is expected to end today, Friday.