The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) will today launch the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) annual Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) conference at the Liberia Marketplace in Monrovia, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph N. Boakai gracing the opening of the conference.
During this year’s MSME conference, the government of Liberia will offer US$20,000 in prizes for ICT exhibitors and E+ Business Plan Competition with US$100,000 in grants as part of the initiative to empower entrepreneurs.
The MSME conference is the largest annual gathering of small businesses with the chance to exhibit their products to a larger audience and connect or build partnerships.
Axel M. Addy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said the Liberian leaders will be accompanied by members from the Cabinet, members of the Legislature and the Judiciary.
Minister Addy said the US$100,000 in grants and showcasing of Liberian-made products remain a golden opportunity for empowerment of Liberian-owned businesses, which has the propensity to change one’s business from one level to another, especially the building of partnership or connection.
According to MOCI, they will address Liberian entrepreneurs, business executives, local and international partners, members of the diplomatic corps, youth and a cross-section of stakeholders at the Liberian Marketplace, Nancy B. Doe Jorkpen Town Market, 8th Street – Sinkor.
This year’s annual MSME Conference, according to an authority from the Ministry of Commerce, will be held under the theme “From Vision to Implementation, Buying Liberian, and Building Liberia” with a special focus on “Promoting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Liberia.”
Since its inception in 2013, the SBA MSME Conference has focused on different topics and allowed MSMEs to explore partnerships and receive financing to expand their operations.
The conference has facilitated over US$42 million in public procurements from SMEs in FY2015/2016 and led to several innovations, such as the Small Business Empowerment Act, which created the Small Business Administration, the E+ Project, the Lofa Women Weaving Center, and the Liberian Marketplace funded through the Liberia Innovation Fund for Entrepreneurs (LIFE).
Last year’s conference centered around ‘Women Entrepreneurship’ and covered topics such as financing options available for MSMEs; the role of government in support of MSMEs; challenges and opportunities faced by MSMEs today.
The theme for 2015 emphasized ‘Youth Innovation for Economic Empowerment’ and was a platform for young entrepreneurs to showcase their creativity and innovations at the Trade Fair.
The annual flagship conference organized by the MOCI provides opportunities for capacity building, product exhibition, networking with investors, partners and clients and business linkage events.
Ahead of the pending election to usher in a new government, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) has launched a transition report, which highlights numbers of computers, vehicles, motorbikes, gains made, challenges, among others, which is intended to create a smooth beginning for the incoming government.
The report also highlights the number of small businesses worked with and empowered over the years and opportunities created for Liberian-owned businesses and foreign businesses at large.
Meanwhile, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called on other ministries, agencies, and commissions to follow-suit of the Commerce Ministry to ensure that there is a smooth landing or beginning for incoming governments.
President Sirleaf made the remarks when authorities of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry presented the transition report to her and other international partners, including the European Union, African Development Bank, United States Government, Swedish Embassy, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) among others.
According to the MOCI report, to counter the employment shortfall of around 600,000 jobs by 2030 the ministry has shifted its focus towards industrializing Liberia, promoting private sector development and expanding trade opportunities both through regional integration efforts and alignment with international norms through the accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).