“We need a paradigm shift in Liberia because we believe this is the only way our society will reach an improved level we all are yearning for, and this can only be done when we change the status quo – the way things are done – and learn to stand by each other,” said the political leader of the Alternative National Congress, Alexander B. Cummings.
Cummings noted that the few privileged persons in the country should try to cultivate a sense of generosity to help the masses rise up above poverty. And this, he said, can only be done when women, especially market women, are prioritized in terms of empowerment through the provision of loans and proper business management training.
The eloquent but soft spoken former corporate executive turned-politician spoke in Monrovia yesterday when he made what he termed as “an initial donation of US$60,000 for the establishment of a microfinance loan scheme for Liberian market women,” to be managed by Standard Trust Microfinance through an agreement with Cummings.
Cummings’ earlier statement about a paradigm shift was in reference to himself: a day ahead of his birthday on December 7, he decided to give instead of receiving, as is the common practice.
“There should be a paradigm shift in the way we do things,” he said. I will be celebrating my birthday on December 7, but instead of awaiting gifts I want to give this as a gift to my people.
“This is my little way of appreciating my mothers, sisters, aunties and nieces as I celebrate my natal day. If we want to change Liberia and make it better for all of us then we need to start changing the status quo and begin to give to those who are in need, especially those of us who, by God’s help, are privileged to have little things,” he said.
The entity chosen to manage and disburse the fund, Standard Trust Micro-Finance, is managed by a young Liberian businessman, Steve Kolubah, and is located on Benson and Buchanan streets in Monrovia.
“We want Steve and his team to manage this fund in order to yield the desired results,” Cummings said. “We want our women to be empowered and this is a little way we want to start helping in that direction.” Cummings, whose mother was also a market woman, influenced him to go into business, he said.
Five counties have been earmarked to benefit from this initial project. These include Montserrado, Margibi, Bomi, Grand Bassa and Nimba counties. No specific women’s group is being targeted, Cummings said, but only market women who are in need of funding to improve their businesses.
Cummings said the loan scheme does not have any political undertone, as it is meant to benefit Liberian women. “You don’t have to be a partisan of the ANC or a supporter of Cummings to benefit from this initiative,” he clarified. He, however, stressed on a strong repayment policy so that the program can be extended to other parts of the country.
For his part, Steve Kolubah noted that beneficiaries have to receive initial training before they can receive their portion, which is according to their needs.
Meanwhile, Cummings was presented a traditional gown by a group of women as a birthday gift.