-Cummings tells Liberian entrepreneurs
Alexander B. Cummings, a businessman, politician and philanthropist, says entrepreneurship is essential to Liberia’s growth and development.
Mr. Cummings made the remarks on Thursday, November 14 during the opening of a 2-day Liberia Entrepreneurship Summit 2019, which is organized by the Cummings Africa Foundation at the Millennium Guest House in Monrovia.
“It should be our goal to ensure that the private sector is the biggest employer in Liberia. Entrepreneurship has to be one of the primary vehicles. In every developed country or market, the private sector is the biggest employer and it should be our goal as a country to ensure that the private sector plays its rightful role,” Mr. Cummings said.
Mr. Cummings said the summit is also intended to facilitate or assist entrepreneurs to grow through the provision of knowledge and grants. According to him, this is key to the future prospects of Liberia and the private sector can be the biggest employer of people and the highest generator of wealth for Liberians.
The event, held under the theme: “Entrepreneurship Redefined: Taking Liberian Businesses to the Next Level” ,brought together some leading Liberian entrepreneurs as presenters, panelists and facilitators.
According to the organizers, the goal of the summit is to equip Liberian businesses with knowledge. They include Barkue Tubman, CEO of MBL International Group; Eyvonne Bright-Harding, CEO of Sharks Entertainment; William R. Dennis, executive director/CEO of Business Start-Up Center; Amin Modad, CEO of MI Group; Jeanine Cooper, founder & Senior partner Fabrar Liberia and others.
Mr. Cummings said getting the right people for partnership also helps to grow the business, indicating that “having inter-personal as well as social media skills is essential in the development of growing one’s business.
He said, “we want you to think about agriculture, especially how you can add value.” Mr. Cummings said Cummings Africa Foundation is committed to entrepreneurship and job creation.
He told business people that banking institutions globally are not designed to help entrepreneurs to grow. Mr. Cummings said “We can use agriculture to grow. Ghana, Ivory Coast, and other countries are successful because they are agro-based economies. If you want things to change, you have to do things differently.”
“Things you believe will also help you to find partners who have different skills. Self-awareness and assessment is cardinal in life, especially in business and entrepreneurship. It’s good to act quickly and decidedly to opportunities as they come. Also be self-disciplined, especially how you spend your time,” Mr. Cummings said.
“Capitalism in the 21st Century cannot be measured by your personal wellbeing or wealth but by what you do for others, and how you help others create wealth for themselves. I know many of your businesses are small today, but the goal is to make your businesses larger. You can unapologetically be successful, but you can also give back to society,” Mr. Cummings said.
“Firstly, I want you to know yourself and who you are as well as what you are good at and what you are not good at. Know your weaknesses and the things you have a passion for as entrepreneurs. Liberia needs to find a program to help petty traders,” Mr. Cummings said.
According to Mr. Cummings, the foundation, through a competition, is expected to financially empower two entrepreneurs who will receive US$10,000 for the first winner and US$5,000 for the second winner. The prizes, he said, are intended to help the winners to grow and expand their businesses.
With this, Mr. Cummings said, “about 100 businesses applied and today, Thursday, November 14, two entrepreneurs from the last five entrepreneurs will win US$10,000 and US$5,000, respectively. The five will present their business ideas and two will emerge as winners.”
Meanwhile, commenting on Liberia’s national budget, Mr. Cummings said it’s important for Liberians, especially the government, to think big and look beyond the current constraints to augment the country’s budget.
“We have lots of things to do in order to increase Liberia’s budget to US$2 billion. We have to create the necessary environment for businesses to grow, firstly because when they are successful, then they will pay more taxes, hire more people. The people hired will have a consuming power and gradually lead to paying more taxes to government, Mr. Cummings said.”
According to Mr. Cummings, Liberia needs to take advantage of natural resources and also invest into agriculture, which will bring lots of changes to Liberia.
Dr. Wede Brownell who spoke on behalf of Cummings Africa Foundation, said the sharing of ideas is cardinal to improving the entrepreneurship climate in Liberia.
“The experiences shared will help to transform the economy and Liberia in general. We hope that all Liberian businesses participating in the summit will gain the relevant knowledge to prospect,” she said.
According to Cummings, the summit will now take place every year to enable entrepreneurs across the country to benefit from the Cummings Africa Foundation and the Cummings’ family.