After successfully completing the first three years of its program in Liberia, Building Markets, implementing arm of the Sustainable Marketplace Initiative Liberia (SMI-L) project, has been awarded a two year extension by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The launch, which took place at a local resort recently, brought together several businesses and personalities, among them representatives from USAID as well as those from the Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX), and Liberia Institute for Geo-Information Services (LIGIS), National Investment Commission (NIC) and local businesses, among others.
The event among other things highlighted some of the key phase-one achievements as well as shared on the key activities and components to be undertaken in the extension phase.
“We are glad to announce that the project has been awarded with two years extension by USAID,” Head of Building Markets Liberia, Timothy Melvin stated.
According to him, his entity was proud of the achievements made by his institution during the first three years and looks forward to a more conducive working relationship with local and international businesses and the Government of Liberia in strengthening existing partnerships to ensuring a vibrant economy.
The head of Building Markets Liberia listed several services and achievements by his institution and named Supplier Directory, which contains more than 3,200 profiles of local companies, searchable by sector and location in Liberia.
He said that business matchmaking helps international buyers identify cost-competitive and high quality domestic products and services by request and establishes relationship between buyers and local businesses at networking events.
Mr. Melvin added that since April 2012, SMI-L has supported local businesses to win over US$31.2 million in contracts and created 960 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
For his part, Saye K. M. Dolo, market research and data officer at the National Investment Commission (NIC), mentioned contributions made by Building Markets to the local economy, saying, he was pleased with Building operations in Liberia and that the extension of the program was in the interest of local businesses.
Mr. Dolo, who represented the NIC however, highlighted the research aspect of Building Markets work, saying, “I am particularly interested in your research work. Basically it highlights the short and long term opportunities and how local businesses can tap from these opportunities. This aspect of your work is good for our local economy.”
For his part, Rod Thompson, representing the USAID, thanked Building Markets for the implementation of its first phase one projects which he declared fruitful.
He said that Building Markets has offered local businesses several opportunities and that the number of jobs that have been created as a direct result of Building Markets' intervention was due to opportunities they created.
Mr. Thompson added that USAID was pleased to extend Building Markets' operations in Liberia and looks forward to its successful implementation.
SMI-L through Building Markets works across sectors to support local businesses, build and strengthen local supply chains, and ensure monies spent in Liberia stay in Liberia and also create jobs and sustain peace by championing local entrepreneurs and connecting them to new business opportunities.
The outfit has worked in Liberia since 2011 with funding from the Australian Government, Humanity United, BHP Billiton and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In Liberia, Building Markets partners with the government, development organizations, local entrepreneurs and the private sector to provide innovative solutions to complex developmental challenges.