The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Axel Addy, has disclosed that this year’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) conference was a success for Liberians looking for opportunities to network with investors and other international partners.
Speaking at the 2nd MSME conference Wednesday, April 30, held at the Monrovia City Hall, Minister Addy explained that government was making many investments to improve the country’s business sector.
According to the Minister, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) in collaboration with international and local partners will continue to provide training to and invest in Liberian businesses as means of taking local products to both national and international markets.
“Agriculture is an untapped opportunity. Liberia has all the natural resources to give its farmers a competitive advantage to move to the world markets while serving locally,” the Commerce Minister said.
Minister Addy said this year’s MSME conference spotlights on agriculture and agribusiness, which contributes an estimated 60% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and is the sector with the most jobs in the country.
“Liberia is blessed with water and oil among many other resources. This is a call to action for Liberians to produce and process agriculture products for local consumption and export,” he declared.
According to Minister Addy, the small business empowerment plan will set aside 25 percent of all government procurements for Liberian companies. He said they will purchase locally grown rice for employees as a way of promoting some Liberian-owned businesses.
He explained, “Liberian farmers are entrepreneurs with strong potential to go beyond the subsistence level and provide products that would serve African countries as well as our international partners.”
Also speaking, the US Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Deborah Malac said, “The United States Government is helping to develop not just farmers, but a better business climate. We will do this by empowering agro input suppliers, processors, traders, cold storage chains, ware houses and other critical players in the Liberia’s value chain.”
According to Ambassador Malac, the US is committed to supporting Liberians through increase of agricultural productivity and profitability in rice, cassava, and other crops that will bring better living conditions to the country and its people.
“The United States will support Liberian priorities to build sustainable local capacity and make a difference in people’s lives: moving towards a shared vision of self-sufficiency and prosperity,” she said.
Also speaking at the conference was the USAID/IBEX Chief of Party, Madam Watchen Harris Bruce. Madam Bruce called on the Government of Liberia to develop institutions that would enable businesses and entrepreneurs to improve their products.
According to Madam Bruce, the lack of business knowledge from many people in the country was killing Liberian businesses and causing setbacks rather than improvement.
“We will focus on helping business people understand management and how to keep records. They need to understand projections and know their customers so they can identify the needs of the people,” she promised.