The faculty and Administrative staff of the Cuttington University (CU) in Suakoko, Bong County have been challenged to begin, from the coming academic year, a deliberate and well-researched, planned and tutored course in entrepreneurial capacity-building, to train Liberians to become business people.
The Publisher and Managing Director of the Daily Observer newspaper, Dr. Kenneth Y. Best, threw out the challenge when he served as CU’s 53rd Commencement speaker last Saturday on the Cuttington main campus in Suakoko.
In his Address, Dr. Best told his commencement audience that he was throwing out the challenge not only to Cuttington, but to all other universities, community colleges and even the high schools across the country. All such institutions should develop courses that will lead to the development of a Liberian business class that will participate actively in the business sector and the economy.
The Commencement Speaker repeatedly called on the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to reverse the trend of foreigners having taken complete control of the Liberian economy. The government can reverse this and empower Liberians in the economy by making it mandatory that all foreign businesses, whose operations are US$50,000 or more, have at least one credible Liberian partner.
“Suggesting partnership with foreign companies alone is not enough, Dr. Best cautioned. “We have to know how to partner in our own interest. We have to be clear what our interest is and be focused on it, he declared.
He warned that if the government does not pay attention to this challenge and do something concrete and decisive about it now, “our people will remain poor, powerless and hopeless, believing and knowing that they have no stake in what is called Liberia.”
In such a case, he warned, Liberians will be ready, eager, willing and able to take part again in any insurrection that will spark the destruction of the country’s infrastructure.
Speaking on the theme, “Redeeming Liberia for Liberians,” he said this “is an urgent national call to restore commonsense, sanity, patriotism and ownership of this country to those to whom it belongs—the Liberians.
Most of the people who have come here calling themselves investors, “brought no money of their own, but built what they have on any and everything they found here.
“They are the ones who definitely believe they are the new Liberians, the veritable owners of Papa’s land. They demonstrate this not only economically and financially, but also politically and judicially by challenging the poor Liberians to take them anywhere. They tell the Liberians, “It is you who will leave there, but not me.”
“I know of no country in the world which has given foreigners in their midst that kind of power—over our lawyers, judges, politicians, our government officials, even the poor man and woman on the street who is thus reduced to vulnerability, subservience and powerlessness.”
The president of Cuttington University, Dr. Hernique F. Tokpa, disclosed that the Entrepreneurship Department of the CU already has a Business Start-up Unit sponsored by SPARKS. As a result of the start-up, he said, the Entrepreneurship Center organized the first business plan competition for Gbarnga in 2014, where three people emerged as winners and will receive a US$10,000 loan to start their business. The Center also awarded certificates for the training received in workshops relating to Agribusiness.
Speaking to our reporter later, Dr. Best expressed happiness at Cuttington’s move to develop an entrepreneurial training program. He recalled that in 2010, in an address to the Cuttington Alumni Association on the Cuttington campus in Suacoco, he appealed to the university to develop such a program and called for active alumni support for it.