Liberia: “Private Sector, Not Govt, Is the Engine of Growth”

Grantees seated at the opening of the Visioning Bootcamp in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County  

—UNDP Team Lead tells Growth Accelerator US$40K Grantees to be their own bosses

Dorsla Farcarthy, Inclusive Growth Pillar Team Lead at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has informed grantees of the US$40,000 from the Growth Accelerator Liberia program that the private sector is the engine of growth, not the government.

Farcarthy observed that everybody wants to work in government, which puts too much pressure on the government. However, if they are growing their own businesses, they can employ people and empower people, and this is the kind of vision UNDP needs.

“So, as UNDP, we have reliable partners such as the Accountability Lab Liberia and iCampus Liberia. We saw this vision, and we decided that there is probably something that we can test, and probably other partners can see it, and we can use the result to advocate for more resources,” he said.

Farcarthy made these remarks on Wednesday, August 2, at the start of a three-day Visioning Bootcamp for Growth Accelerator Liberia-MSMEs and Clean/Renewable Energy Cohorts as well as a workshop for agricultural cooperative cohorts in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

“So, this is an opportunity to be your own boss and grow your own business. I know you are in competition, but you have to keep in mind that this is a do-or-die situation,” he stressed.

The three-day visioning bootcamps for Growth Accelerator Liberia-MSMEs and Clean/Renewable Energy Cohorts are being facilitated by Growth Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, and Business Start-up Center Monrovia.

The grantees are being mentored on various business development modules, including finance model development, leadership, setting development targets, customer and vendor profiling, and making proper financial and narrative reports.

The program, heavily supported by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, provides mentorship, financial support, and other resources needed to scale up business operations.

This year’s winners, drawn from diverse representations across sectors, were awarded substantial grants of US$40,000 each.

Farcarthy then urged participants to do their best, believe in themselves, trust their abilities, and know that they are part of a serious business.

He emphasized the dependency syndrome on the government and the importance of using the money for its intended purpose, scaling and growing businesses.

“So, we have come to encourage you to do your best because, for us, we believe in quality. So, if you reach this stage, it’s about doing your utmost best, believing in yourself, trusting your abilities, and knowing that as you come, you’re here for serious business,” Farcarthy maintained.

In remarks, Angel Banda, Assistant Commerce Minister for Small Business Administration, who provided a few words of encouragement to the participants, expressed appreciation to UNDP for its continued support of the government and its people.

She also lauded the implementing partner, iCampus, the Business Start-up Center, and Accountability Lab Liberia, for the Growth Accelerator Liberia Programme that is providing training and preparing SMEs for their successful business journey.

“To all of you participants here, please make sure to consider this opportunity as a tool for your successful story for our future entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to inspire and direct them for the growth of our country’s economy,” Banda stressed.

For his part, Luther Jeke, Chief Executive Officer of iCampus Liberia, earlier provided an overview of the Bootcamp.

Jeke, in his statement, disclosed that the program is in its third year of selecting winners from a pool of diverse representations across various sectors.

“For this year, we received a total of 177 applications for the MSMEs and clean and renewable energy cohorts,” he said. “My advice to these small businesses that are fortunate to have won this grant is to use the money for its intended purpose.”

Jeke reiterated that the UNDP grants are meant to help the beneficiaries scale and grow their businesses.

He said, “If you need more human resources, employ more people (Youth, women, and People living with disabilities); if you need to buy more machinery and equipment, buy them to improve your business.”

Meanwhile, the BootCamp has been praised as a game changer in the entrepreneurial journeys of its participants, with some stating that the lessons have given them a new structural outlook and a better understanding of entrepreneurship.

The program will climax on Friday, August 4, with roadmaps set by businesses and Agriculture Cooperatives to be able to access the Growth Accelerator Liberia Grant of US$40,000 each.