Madam Watchen Harris Bruce, Chief of Party for USAID Liberia Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) has said that her entity is in the country to help Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) understand how to manage their businesses in term of profit making and how the business is being run.
By that, Madam Bruce has assured IBEX’s wiliness to help Liberia’s SMEs understand business management strategies as well as improving Liberian owned-businesses in getting access to private sector finance.
She made these comments on Wednesday, April 30, at the end of a three day Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) conference 2014, held by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Finance Corporation, when she served as one of the panelists.
Discussing the opportunities, challenges and solution in terms of SME development in Liberia, especially getting access to private loan, IBEX chief of party noted that most Liberian business owners are not accessing finance because their do not know how to presents themselves to various banking institutions for credit.
The reason, Madam Bruce said the reason they are not presenting themselves for the economic opportunity is because of the lack of knowledge and fear they have in accessing private finance.
Most Liberian businesses do not have record as well as financial record to show where they came from and where they are going and what they want to achieve when it comes to business growth.
She said as the result, no banking institution operating in the country would like to give out money to people who do not have record to show of their businesses.
“The Bank makes profit through the loan they gave out to people, so no banking institution will tell me that they are not giving out loan, but all their want to see is the plan of the business,” said Madam Bruce.
According to her, IBEX focuses on promising entrepreneurs that have track records of successful operations in its program sectors and provides them with technical assistance and capacity building in the areas of business planning, accounting, governance and facilitating access to finance.
Madam Bruce said thorough training, mentoring, coaching and advancing would enhance the ability of business people to access commercial banks’ credits.
The program also provides technical assistance and capacity building for bank staff in adapting processes and acquiring requisite skills that would enable them review and evaluate borrowers’ loan applications and understand banking with farmers and SMEs in general.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), John B.S. Davis, III, assured the business community the banking sector would remain committed in providing services to SME.
Mr. Davis said that as head of the Liberia Bankers’ Association, he would ensure that Liberian businesses get access to private finance that would enable them boost the economy.
The CEO of LBDI describes the SME as the engine of growth, which he said much attention needs to be given to.
Also speaking, Francis A. Dennis, president of Liberia Chamber of Commerce said that SMEs are very important because they provide a lot of opportunity when it comes to employment.
Mr. Dennis further said that the SMEs also contribute to the growth of a nation’s economy.
Meanwhile, Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) is expected today to conduct a one-day business and leadership training scale to SMEs in the private sectors.