Tomah Seh Floyd, Sr., 52, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Jungle Water Group of Investments (JWGI), is Daily Observer’s “Man of the Year 2016.”
A team of Daily Observer reporters searched throughout the country to identify a single Liberian who has made a significant positive impact on the lives of Liberians in line with the popular Agenda for Transformation (AfT). They have chosen Mr. Floyd, for several reasons, to earn the recognition of this newspaper.
As owner of the JWGI, which started in 1995 with less than US$,1000, Mr. Floyd had one ambition: to take Liberia out of Monrovia. He knew back then that whenever any mention was made of Liberia, most people thought of Monrovia; but he knew that Liberia was bigger than Monrovia.
To accomplish what he had envisioned, he told the Daily Observer he knew that his challenge was to “create economic avenues for the sustainability of the rural people.” He therefore decided to venture into providing goods and services, and in fulfillment of his dream, he established the JWGI, with headquarters in Sanniquellie, Nimba County’s political capital. Floyd’s passion to see effective economic activities in other parts of Liberia, particularly in the country’s central-southeast, spurred him on to work assiduously to grow his institution gradually, from the creek (where they got the water) to a small shop, and later on a five-bedroom guesthouse, which has now grown to 50 bedrooms.
Meanwhile, the guesthouse business in Sanniquellie alone has grown to three, with a combined room capacity of 150.
Floyd also has guesthouses in Ganta, Nimba County’s commercial city, including the city’s most modern, Jackie’s Guesthouse, with at least 50 bedrooms.
His overriding concern was to bring relief to Liberians outside Monrovia, but he was aware of the then prevailing challenges, which included limited capital, bad roads, security threats and the insincerity of people.
Floyd had promised himself that he would take Liberia out of Monrovia and make people feel that there is life in other parts of the country. “I managed to add another shop to the first one. As the stores, which included grocery, building materials and other merchandize, were growing in the face of many challenges, I ventured into the cocoa and coffee trading on a small scale, to buttress the stores and to touch the lives of more people in line with the goals and objectives of the JWGI,” he told the Daily Observer.
By the year 2004, the business was legally incorporated and he saw the growing potential the entity was moving towards. It became necessary to expand into other lines of business and a need to bring on board more trained professionals.
Today, Jungle Water Group of Investments has over US$3 million worth of assets in inventory both in Nimba County and Monrovia, focusing on real estate, including three modern hotels in Nimba, and other capital assets, among them a fleet of trucks, small vehicles and yellow machines.
The JWGI employs more than 300 Liberians and Floyd says he has found another means to assist Liberians, who approach him for employment opportunities that he cannot provide at JWGI.
“It hurts me to turn away any Liberian who comes to me for employment and I say to them, can we provide you with a freezer that you can work and repay for the cost? To others, I offer bags of flour and other goods that they can sell before repaying. Sometimes it works out, other times the beneficiaries take advantage and don’t return, but majority of the people who have been involved in this plan have been empowered and they are throughout Nimba County and this makes me happy,” Mr. Floyd said.
When a team of Daily Observer reporters toured several parts of Nimba, Mr. Floyd’s story was confirmed and many showed evidences of their own empowerment and wished there were more Liberians of his type, ever willing to provide assistance through shared economic activities in other parts of the country.
Mr. Tomah Seh Floyd is also the managing director of Jungle Energy Power (GEP), after his company formed a partnership with a Ghanaian company (Energy Venture Ghana) that administers and provides electricity to Nimba County from the West African Power Pool (WAPP) in the Ivory Coast.
WAPP is a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), covering 14 of the 15 countries of the regional economic community (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo). The aim of WAPP is to ensure Regional Power System integration and realization of a Regional Electricity Market. WAPP is made up of Public and Private Generation, Transmission and Distribution companies involved in the provision of electricity in West Africa. It has to date, 27 member companies including Jungle Energy Power.
During our interview with Mr. Floyd, he re-emphasized that he has no interest to venture into Liberian politics. His major interests, he insisted, are to use his businesses to bring economic relief to rural Liberians, starting with his home County Nimba, “and also to take Liberia from Monrovia.”
Married with five children, he completed the sixth grade at Duo Gorton Public School in Nimba and later entered St. Philip’s Ecumenical School, in Gardnersville, Monrovia, where he completed junior high school in 1982.
From 1984-87, he studied machinery at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, earning a diploma in machinery, and a certificate of proficiency from the West African Examination Council (WAEC). It was at BWI that he met his wife Jackie, before moving on to the William V. S. Tubman Technical College (now Tubman University) in Harper, Maryland County, to study mechanical engineering. After two semesters, the 1990 civil-war broke out ending, his dream.
He returned to Duo Gorton, and as the war affected several other Nimbaians, Floyd developed an interest in mining and organized a group to engage in the lucrative trade in the county.
“My uncles and others in the county told me minerals in the earth are put there by ‘Jinna’ the common Liberian name for genie, and therefore, those who get the resources usually turn out to do things that are not profitable. But I was wiser and the wise use of what I got from the mines made me to see the other side of me.
“I began to develop my businesses and we are here today talking about what I have achieved so far. I did not inherit any huge amount from anyone; I made myself because I was determined and the blessing flows my way,” he said.
To continue helping others, Floyd has the Tomah Seh Floyd Foundation that provides scholarships to needy students, benefitting more than 300 students in several academic institutions, including universities.
“Those who benefit from my scholarships don’t have to show their Grade Point Average (GPA) as is normally done in various institutions. My scholarships are for those in need,” he insisted.
For now, Tomah Seh Floyd’s highest desire “is to work and serve my people and country. It has become expedient to venture into the decentralization process of our economy by taking Liberia out of Monrovia by means of making the needed goods and services accessible to our people at affordable prices that will make life comfortable. It is in this direction that I have endeavored to seek every avenue to provide goods and services, thereby buttressing all efforts of the Central Government to bring economic relief to the citizens.”
It is based on his continuing fulfillment of this noble dream that the Daily Observer named Mr. Tomah Seh Floyd, Sr “Man of the Year 2016.”