Liberian Business Association (LIBA) President, Dee Maxwell Kemayah, says in order for significant strides to be taken in the successful ‘conquering’ of the Liberian economy, local entrepreneurs have to adopt better business practices.
Mr. Kemayah made the statement while giving an overview of the two-day workshop organized for 40 Liberian entrepreneurs of the association. Mr. Kemayah underscored some of these better practices as the payment of taxes, provision of quality services and products, and improved customer service.
According to Mr. Kemayah, quality goods and services may be provided, but if customer service is poor, the inflow of cash that facilitates continuation of the business would not be ensured.
“The customers are the core (center) of all business; we attach serious significance to them and must do all we can to gain their patronage of our businesses. They provide the cash necessary to run our various industries,” Mr. Kemayah stressed.
Customer service is seen as a major problem in the Liberian business sector. It has often been reported that many businesses have employees who are not customer friendly and very aggressive and discourteous towards customers.
The organized training funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is a part of LIBA’s objectives. The objectives include advocacy, capacity building, and facilitation and access to finance.
Regarding the capacity building aspect, Mr. Kemayah said, “Strides to take over the economy of the country cannot work if entrepreneurs have no business skills.”
He acknowledged that because training was important for Liberian business entrepreneurs. Mr. Kemayah explained that is why LIBA is engaged in organizing training programs which recently led a group to South Korea that returned during the festive season.
Focusing onLIBA’s role as an advocacy group for indigenous Liberian businesses, Mr. Kemayah explained that even though government— through the Central Bank of Liberia— had given a US$5 million loan to LIBA to be received through commercial banks; it still needed to review its business policy to suit Liberian businesses.
Making reference to the automotive portion of the business sector, Mr. Kemayah said government has a policy not to buy used cars but brand new vehicles. He noted that Liberians are not dealing in newly manufactured vehicles but foreigners, and in this business Liberians’ interest is not protected.
In order to have Liberians’ interest protected, Mr. Kemayah suggested that policy be drafted for Liberians to have at least 25% share in such businesses since government should be there to seek and protect the interest of its citizens.
In joint views, Mr. Kemayah and Daily Observer Publisher Kenneth Y. Best said West African Countries including Nigeria and Ghana seek the interest of their citizens by drafting policies that will protect them, noting, “In Ghana, a foreign businessman must have a local Ghanaian partner before making business.”
He (Kemayah) said for government to prove its interest in protecting its citizens, more of these protective laws should be drafted and enforced to give a clear picture to Liberian entrepreneurs that government is serious.
The training workshop began on January 16, 2014, and is highlighting Managerial Skills, Business Networking, Customer Service, Business Law, Financial Recording Keeping, Leveraging Local Procurement, Human Resource Management, and Sales and Marketing.