“Liberians’ quest to engage in politics rather than business ventures is largely responsible, to a certain extent, for the marginalization of Liberians in business,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said.
The President believes that Liberians not attracting more bank loans can be attributed to the society placing a premium on politics over business activities.
At the launch of the Aquarius Mineral Water brand over the weekend in Kingsville, Montserrado County, Madam Sirleaf noted that the economy’s structure has always favored concessions, large capitalist and major operators. “To a certain extent, this is because of the lack of capital and capacity to what is called the marginalization of Liberians and businesses.”
She said that Liberians have never wanted to do business because of their traditional focus on politics. Since assuming power in 2006, President Sirleaf has been struggling to develop a middle income economy while trying to build the capacity of Liberian businesses, but said quest is unable to advance after almost nine years of her rule.
However, President Johnson Sirleaf praised other Liberian businesses that, despite difficulties they have faced, they have always stood tall to compete with foreign businesses.
“There have been some stalwarts over the years that have pursued business interest,” the President said. The Liberian leader urged the Commerce Ministry to increase her engagement with Liberian businesses in order to develop and strengthen their capacity.
She warned against Liberians taking loans and defaulting on payment, adding; “These attitudes of not being responsible for paying back these loans undermines our efforts to encourage Liberian businesses.”
President Sirleaf made the disclosure when she delivered a special statement at the re-launch of Aquarius Mineral Water.
Aquarius is a Liberian business owned and operated by Representative Josephine George Francis.
The business was launched on the market a few years back, but had to close down due to lack of capital.
Speaking with reporters after the program, Madam Francis recognized the challenges associated with such big investments. She said that her reappearance on the market confirms her ability for progress and her urge to compete with others.
Rep. Francis represents District #1, Montserrado County, in the House of Representatives and had been an entrepreneur for years now.
With a staff of over 100 people, Madam Francis said her business capacity is ready to meet the growing demands of the public and expressed delight in working with Liberians.
One foreign technician was flown in from India to help train Liberians in the plant for one year, Rep. Francis pointed out. “The reason behind this,” she said; “is so our own people can be fully in charge of all activities of this business.”
She disclosed that in five years when the business has grown, the public will have an opportunity to buy shares in the company.
Aquarius Mineral water, with its new capacity, she said; “produces 3,000 bottles of water per hour and is ready for business.”