USAID Mission Director Assures US Gov’t Support to SMEs

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The Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Anthony Chan, has assured Liberian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of the United States government’s support.

Dr. Chan made the statement yesterday, April 20, at the closeout program of USAID funded program, Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX), where he inducted leadership into office to operate the Consortium of Business Development Service Providers-IBEX Sustainability Strategy.

He said since the inception of IBEX in 2012, they have trained 99 business development services providers and over 300 financial services professionals, including bankers and microfinance officers in technical areas such as agriculture lending, financing renewable energy project, and loan underwriting criteria for local business people.

Through IBEX, Dr. Chan said, USAID has taken a strategic and comprehensive approach to business development in the country, focusing on empowering local small businesses with the priorities identified by the government of Liberia under its Agenda for Transformation (AfT).

The USAID Director said IBEX has been working hard to assist small local businesses and to secure and strengthen access to credit for over 1,000 small businesses in Liberia.

Additionally, over US$8 million was approved, and a little over US$7 million were disbursed to agribusiness, renewable energy, hospitality, construction, logistics and transportation, trade and healthcare businesses. Credit was disbursed through both USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) as well as non DCA supported loans.

Based on these achievements, the USAID Mission Director said IBEX has set a great example of how to work with and engage small businesses and the private sector to develop the strong partnership that is needed to enhance their investment in developing Liberia’s economy.

“IBEX experience demonstrates that we can move towards a more active participation of small businesses and enhance their contribution to the development of their communities, and I believe that IBEX achievements will play an important role in the development of micro, small medium enterprises,” he said.

He, however, said that his institution remains committed to supporting local businesses and also works with partners including the GOL in these endeavors.

Also speaking, Madam Watchen Harris Bruce, Chief of Party (COP), thanked USAID for the opportunity given her and her staff to train local businesses on how to be become successful.

Madam Bruce said the four years she operated the organization proved that there are “millions of SMEs in Liberia” that need the training.

She said the training also demonstrates that if government and international partners help local businesses get proper training it will help them become successful, as well as create more jobs in the country.

“This is a dream come true, because we achieved our many objectives and demonstrated Liberian-owned businesses can borrow and can pay.

“Those were some of the things we heard, when we came to operate this organization, Liberians don’t pay debt. Its’ not that they cannot pay, but they didn’t just know how to raise revenue, make reports, do record keeping and financial statements,” said Watchen Bruce.

For her part, the National Investment Commission, Etmonia David Tarpeh, expressed gratitude to IBEX, especially USAID for the support given to Liberian-owned businesses.

The closeout program of IBEX was attended by government officials, USAID, staff of IBEX as well as local business people.

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