An initiative known as the Trader Growth Program (TGP) has been launched in Monrovia. Its aim is to motivate vegetable traders to strengthen their capacity with the ultimate goal of expanding local vegetable production.
The TGP is an initiative of the Monrovia Vegetable Sellers’ Association (MVSA) that works in partnership with GROW Liberia, Afriland First Bank and AIM Global.
The TGP enables traders to effectively manage a growing business and make them “bankable” in order to access loans from commercial institutions to finance and work with increased numbers of local farmers.
The project was launched at Kpakus Plaza, in Gobachop Market, Red Light Community, outside Monrovia in September under the theme, “Improving Skills for Business Growth.”
During the ceremony, GROW’s Senior Intervention Manager Kelvin N. Doesieh said the project will be of great use to traders’ businesses.
These businesses, he said, will among other things, benefit from business-related hands-on training, coaching and capacity building, which will include financial management, record-keeping, staff management, business formalization, and business planning. It will enable traders to access loans from financial institutions to ensure year-round production, create employment and increase incomes for smallholder vegetable farmers.
Doesieh said the role of his organization is to work with all stakeholders, including vegetable traders and farmers, agro-input dealers, and financial institutions to increase the supply of vegetables, especially exotic vegetables such as cabbage, tomato, cucumber, watermelon, lettuce and parsley to meet the demands of hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and private buyers.
He said the decision to work with the MVSA on this initiative was the result of a survey assessing the demand and supply of vegetables in Monrovia and its environs, which pointed out seasonal inconsistencies of supply due to lack of improved inputs and limited financial services available to traders.
“We have talked to the traders, institutional buyers (including supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and private buyers), agro-input dealers, and financial institutions and BDS providers,” Mr. Doesieh said.
He believes that through this initiative, traders will be able to run better businesses and also improve their eligibility for accessing and managing bank financing.
“They will also gain access to improved inputs and embedded extension services to ensure a consistent supply of exotic vegetables to the public,” he added.
Doesieh urged vegetable traders to make use of the opportunity and become better businesses.
Also speaking was Ernest Momo, Portfolio Manager, Afriland First Bank who urged the participants to take the capacity-building program seriously.
He said the bank’s involvement in the program will enable traders to understand the requirements for accessing loans for vegetable production. “Afriland is a bank that responds to agricultural issues in the country, because we provide loans to farmers and traders for business improvement,” Momo said.
He said in order for local traders and sellers to qualify for loans, they must be involved in businesses, owning tangible properties and other collaterals for securing the loan, including a business registration card.
“Don’t borrow more than your capital from the bank, because it breaks down the success of the business and won’t improve the growth of the business,” he cautioned.
Officially launching the Trader Growth Program, William Dennis II, Director of BSC Monrovia, the firm implementing the initiative on behalf of GROW, promised to work with the sellers and traders by providing training to help them manage their capital, prepare financial statements and improve their bookkeeping.
Sellers and traders at the event expressed their gratitude to the MVSA and its partners, including GROW, AIM Global and Afriland First Bank, for coming up with strategies that will enable them improve their skills in order to access finance for business expansion to meet the demands of customers year round.