... At final roundtable discussion on Liberia’s Business Climate
Businesswomen under the banner of the Federation of Liberian Women Entrepreneurs (FEBWE) have stressed the need for unity if they wish to triumph over the dominance of foreign businesses in the Liberian economy.
The women, who shared their experiences of doing business in Liberia, pointed out several challenges ranging from agriculture and economic empowerment, but with more emphasis on access to financing and networking.
“Doing things individually doesn’t work, but partnership and cooperation do. So we need to band together as entrepreneurs, put our resources to work, and start other viable businesses. I think it is now time that we come together, and that will be the only way that we will know that the Liberianization policy is at work. When we work together, we can defeat foreign businesses, and we need to start looking in that direction,” the women said.
Most of them disclosed that access to financing was greatly affecting them and, as such, they could not extend their businesses due to the high-interest rates from commercial banks and other financial institutions.
During the day-long discussion, held at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, the women further said that most of them have been restricted to certain markets by their male counterparts. However, with courage and determination, most of them are doing bigger businesses today, although they still need support from the national government.
The women entrepreneurs spoke at the final roundtable event of the Liberian Women in Business Dialogue on Liberia’s Business Climate roundtable discussion, held at the US Embassy in Monrovia on September 22.
The event provides an opportunity for women entrepreneurs in the country as well as the diaspora (U.S. and Canada) to discuss the challenges of doing business in Liberia and to develop recommendations for improving the business climate for women business owners as well as for women in Liberia.
In 2019, the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs launched a new State Department initiative to promote women's economic empowerment called the POWER (Providing Opportunities for Women's Economic Rise) program.
The initiative leverages diplomatic resources to promote women in business and works with the private sector to establish professional networks and business environments focused on promoting women's economic empowerment in a global context.
According to FEBWE Liberia, they will also serve as a roadmap for lobbying the Liberian Legislature on policies that will ensure women business owners are treated fairly.
“I am sure that if women work together, they will narrow the space rather than everyone doing their separate thing. So, once we work together, it will be easy to make a breakthrough, and that is what we should be looking forward to,” the participants said.
Meanwhile, the dialogue, facilitated by Charlene Carey and Luopu Garmi Blackie, Chairperson of the FEBWE Advisory Board, was attended by the Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Molewuleh B. Gray, Esq., representing the Government of Liberia. Also in attendance were Akaii Lmeberger, Agribusiness Advisor at the Ministry of Agriculture; Theresa M. Davies, Secretary General of the Liberia Business Association (LIBA); and Mark J. Schaver, Economic Officer at the US Embassy in Monrovia.
Based on the discussion, the team will develop an action plan of measurable and sustainable recommendations to improve the business climate for women, and the action plan will serve as a roadmap for lobbying the legislature on policies that will ensure women business owners are treated fairly.
The women are being supported by the United States Government, through its sponsored program, Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER).