Central Bank Governor J. Mills Jones has been described as a social entrepreneur who focuses on the general good of Liberians and encourages positive change in their lives.
Mr. Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, president of Liberia Business Association (LIBA) made the statement when he addressed a gathering of the Young E’nnovative Leaders of Liberia (YELL) 2015 Fourth Annual Summit on recently in California, USA.
He told the gathering that Governor Jones has discovered what is not working in the country and is providing solutions by changing the system.
Mr. Kemayah, who spoke on the topic, “Social Entrepreneur the Liberian Experience,” was invited as one of the guest speakers.
He said that as the herculean task of nation building challenges Liberians at home and abroad, Dr. Jones has stood out as a social entrepreneur who continues to sympathize, empathize and identify with the plight of the people as far as empowerment is concerned.
Driven by his “visionary outlook and his concern about the gap in access to credit and finance by small and medium enterprises, Dr. Jones championed the approval by the CBL Board of Governors of an initial U$5 million stimulus package loan that was accessed exclusively by Liberian-owned businesses,” Kemayah explained.
He said among the important features of the stimulus package are the unprecedented 8 percent low interest rate and the long term repayment period of five years.
“This was followed by another US$5 million stimulus package to which LIBA members currently have exclusive access with an unprecedented low interest rate of 7 percent and a repayment period of five years,” Kemayah said.
He told the gathering of young men, women and their American business partners that through Dr. Jones, the CBL has introduced a microfinance unit at the bank that continues to empower the Liberian people utilizing affordable credit schemes through credit unions.
“It also includes Village Savings and Loan Associations, to benefit the Liberia Marketing Association, Petty Traders and other marginalized groups,” he noted.
He said further that more than 250 Liberian owned businesses and thousands of Liberians across the country have indirectly benefitted from these facilities.
“Many Liberians have grown their businesses to a level where some have employed more people and are meeting the livelihood of their respective families,” he said.
He reflected on the history of Liberia as an independent and prosperous nation in Africa in the 1960s and the investments made by individuals and partners but noted that Liberia now stands in need of what made her a shining light in the past.
“We stand in need of a million more creativities and innovations to help us achieve our reconstruction and development agenda,” he stated.
He commended Liberians at the summit for the initiative but noted that what Liberia needs now are social entrepreneurs, of which Dr. Jones is a leading example.
Defining social entrepreneur, he said the term came to widespread use in the 1980s and 1990s and was promoted by Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka; Innovators for the public, and others such as Charles Leadbeater.
He noted that Dr. Jones has demonstrated his worth to the Liberian people at the Central Bank of Liberia by intervening in the Liberian economy in many ways.
“They include, but are not limited to the U$10million stimulus package loan for real estate mortgage and U$7.5million stimulus package for agriculture lending for not more than 8 percent interest rate and a very long repayment period of not less than ten years,” Kemayah noted.
Dr. Jones’ initiatives, he said, benefit social entrepreneurship which the Liberian Business Association deems appropriate in developing “a country such as ours.”
While access to credit and markets were some of the major setbacks of Liberia in the past, Dr. Jones, a social entrepreneur, seized the opportunity to empower Liberian owned businesses in his intensely focused pursuit to open up the pathways for the marginalized and disadvantaged to unlock their potential to effect social change.
He, meanwhile, commended the organizers, through its president Garcon Morweh, ULAA president Gaye D. Sleh and other officials at the summit and challenged them to become social entrepreneurs and start seeking opportunities to help Liberia. Mr. Kemayah attended the summit with his wife Mrs. Dialokai Golanyon-Kemayah.