President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will today, November 17, officially open the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Small Business Administration (SBA) flagship 2015 Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Conference in Monrovia.
The conference will bring together 50 Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) from all over Liberia. All 50 SMEs exhibiting at the fair will receive The World Bank Group business edge training and a one-year year tax clearance to facilitate contracts.
The conference is also intended to showcase the Innovation Hall where young entrepreneurs will showcase their products with awards for the best innovators.
This year’s Annual MSME Conference is the flagship of the Ministry of Commerce SBA with support from the Government of Japan, in partnership with USAID-Fed, Lone Star Cell MTN, Building Markets, IBEX-Liberia, Single Sparks, Business Start-up Center and the Agency for Economic Development and Empowerment (AEDE). Other supporters include Ecobank-Liberia, LBDI, the West African Venture Fund, Global Bank Liberia Limited, etc.
The President, who will be accompanied by her Cabinet, members of the Legislature and the Judiciary, will address over five hundred Liberian owned business men and women, business executives, local and international partners, diplomatic corps, youths and cross-section of people at the Monrovia City Hall.
The theme for this year’s conference is “From Vision to Implementation, Buying Liberian, Building Liberia,” with special focus on youth innovation for economic empowerment.
Serving as keynote speaker is a young Liberian entrepreneur and Bronson Fellow, Mr. Mahmud Johnson, general manager of J-Palm, a palm oil manufacturing company that utilizes made-in-Liberia technology and innovation to deliver high quality palm oil on the Liberian market.
Since its inception in 2013, the SBA MSME Conference has focused on different topics and allowed SMEs to explore partnerships and receive financing to expand their operations.
The conference has facilitated over US$1 million in investments in SMEs with new innovations such as the Liberia Innovation Fund for entrepreneurs and the Liberian Marketplace.
Each year the conference has a specific focus. Last year various topics were covered, including ‘Entrepreneurship Development, Access to Finance and Access to Markets.’
Like last year, this year, all 50 SMEs that exhibit in the fair will receive The World Bank Group business edge training and a one-year year tax clearance to facilitate contracts. In 2014, “Agriculture” was the topic where the President issued Executive Order #64 under which SMEs in the agriculture sector benefited from tariff exemption on certain agricultural equipment or implements.
This year’s conference will be a capacity building conference, networking and business linkage event, aimed at providing a forum for Liberian youth to participate in a comprehensive E-Plus/business plan competition for emerging starts up MSMEs.
It will select the First Class of E-Plus Entrepreneurs to benefit from the Liberian Innovative Fund for Entrepreneurs (LIFE-Fund) and World Bank Group Business Edge Training.
The E-Plus First Class will go through entrepreneurship development and mentoring for a two year period and each entrepreneur will receive up to US$10,000 to start their businesses.
The conference will be climaxed with the award dinner on November 18 to be followed by the Liberian Experience Concert and Wear Your Pride Fashion.
In a related development, in celebration of the passing of the Intellectual Property Law and various treaties, a special concert organized by Blue Links Promotions artists will pay tribute to Liberian legends Miatta Fahnbulleh, Tecumsay Roberts, Zack and Gebah among others on November 18th at the Monrovia City Hall Theatre from 9pm to 11:00PM.
During the performance, the Wear Your Pride promoting young designers’ use of the Lofa (Country) Cloth will take place, organized by Hon. Munah P. Youngblood, where students and are encouraged to participate.