The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) along with Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) have signed a US$2 million Small Business Pro-poor Development Fund Loan Scheme, a statement said on Thursday, January 17, 2019.
The loan scheme is aimed at empowering Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) and Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) across the country for payment over three years period at the interest rate of seven percent.
According to the statement, signing of the Loan Scheme took place in the conference room of the Ministry of Commerce.
Today’s loan signing is a signature project from President George Weah’s Inauguration Speech during which, he assured that Liberians will not be spectators in their own economy,” Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning said.
Tweah described affording Liberian-owned small businesses access to loans through the Fund as one of the tangible and practical steps in fulfilling the President’s promise about Liberians participation in the economy.
“This loan is minimum, but a maximum will depend on the performance of this initiative. I hope you will hear it from the President that he is willing to do more, and the bank is also willing to do more and increase its contribution,’’ he added.
He said the Pro-poor Development Fund Loan scheme is meant to support private sectors expansion, business activities, support innovation, but not consumption.
He emphasized, “we are not signing this loan for people to consume the fund.”
Tweah said that the government has learned from previous ventures, and things that went wrong in the past five years, and would help Liberians to succeed with capital supply and productive activities.
LBDI President, John B.S. Davies, applauded President Weah for his “demonstrated commitment to improving Liberians participation in the economy through conceiving the idea of a Loan Fund for Liberian-owned small businesses.”
Mr. Davies expressed gratitude for the government recognizing the LBDI as a financial institution to work with in actualizing the vision.
He assured the government that during the loan process, LBDI will create a separate unit to follow up all transactions between the customers and the bank.
Davies said that the bank will also dedicate officers with the full responsibilities to follow up on each and every borrower potential under the program.
He then assured entrepreneurs and other small business organizations that he wants to be a vehicle of success, not of failure, during the loan process.
Mr. Davies:”The loan is being backed by a comprehensive vetting framework that will ensure all concerns are addressed.”
The signing ceremony was attended by ministers of Finance and Commerce, representatives from the private sector actors, entrepreneurs, and representatives of small business organizations.