The Chief of Party at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded—Liberia Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) Program, has disclosed how her organization helped Liberian-owned micro, small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to obtain over US$608,000 in loans from the various banks in Monrovia since its inception in 2012.
IBEX’s COP Watchen Harris Bruce made the disclosure recently at the just end two-day IBEX’s impact investing training seminar for SMEs and bankers in the country.
The seminar was held on the theme: “The Basics of Impact Investing” for Bankers and SMEs.”
Mrs. Bruce, however, observed that most SMEs found it difficult to access credit from various banking institutions, and as such, they were unprepared to present themselves for loan.
According to her, IBEX was literally doing business diagnosis to identify, and analyze SMEs’ problems, and come up with appropriate prescriptions for solutions by providing financial services that include technical assistance and capacity-building for SMEs in the country.
“Our focus is on cash flows, record keeping, business planning, financial projections (plan) and financial statements analysis to show profitability and break-even analysis for them (business people),” she disclosed.
She told the gathering that the goal of IBEX is to, among other things, make Liberian businesses bankable as well as help them understand business management.
Mrs. Bruce, however, said her organization is in the country to train, mentors, and give pieces of advice to SMEs in its seven program sectors to make them bankable.
“Our programs,” Mrs. Bruce said, “include Agribusiness, Clean Renewable Energy, Construction, Infrastructure, Logistics/Transportation, General Merchandise/Trade, and Hospitality.”
IBEX, she said, also trains bankers to acquire skills and knowledge that is necessary for cash flow analysis, profitability and financial statements of banks.
As experienced banker like her, Mrs. Bruce said, many young people who are now entering into the banking sector do not really understand their customers’ requests in order to do comprehensive financial analysis and craft doable (achievable) credit deals.
“The bottom-line is”, she emphasized, “know your customers.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Bob Bragar, lead facilitator at the seminar said that the two-day IBEX seminar challenged the participants to take into documentary evidence, and good governance when sourcing out for social investors for financing.
“The objective of the seminar is to show people what they need to do, where they should go and what they need to show in order to attract international impact investors,” said Mr. Bragar.
He added that there is a strong desire on the part of USAID and IBEX to see that the impact investing knowledge comes to Liberia.
According to him, social investors have committed themselves to up holding ethical principles in finance and information on them is available on the internet.
Mr. Bob Bragar is Founder/Principal at Strategies for Impact Investors based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.