Mercy Corps Empowers Start-Up Businesses

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Mr. Gyeabour and one of the beneficiaries affixed their signatures to the grant agreement.

-Provides US$170K in grants to 13 SMEs

Mercy Corps-Liberia, one of the major non-governmental organizations (NGO) operating in the social financial services sector, has provided a total of US$170,000 as grant to 13 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to improve their operations and boost their viability.

The grant is also meant to empower these local entrepreneurs to build constructive and meaningful livelihoods by equipping them with confidence, skills, and opportunities to engage with their communities and the market.

Mercy Corps Country Director Kwasi Gyeabour said that the initiative is part of the organization’s sub-program, entitled, “Promoting Sustainable Partnership for Economic Transformation (PROSPECTS),” which provides employment for youth entrepreneurs.

Mr. Gyeabour spoke yesterday, September 12, at a program marking the signing of a one-year social business grant contract in Monrovia with the beneficiaries. Yesterday’s event coincided with the official handling over of assorted office equipment to authorities of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the smooth operations of the national cadet program and other youth centers in Montserrado, Bong and Nimba counties.

The program, according to Mr. Gyeabour, is expected to enable owners of those businesses (SMEs) benefit from financial and business advisory support from Mercy Corps.

He said that the grant was provided by the Swedish Government, through its Embassy accredited to Monrovia, to move small Liberian businesses to the next level so that they are able to offer employment opportunities for some of the country’s serious-minded youth.

“The beneficiaries will collect about US$7,500 to US$20, 000 as start-up grant to help them improve their businesses and also provide employment opportunities for some young people who are focused but out of job,” Gyeabour said.

He added: “Before providing the grant, we thoroughly selected some of the SMEs that we could identify as the most deserving businesses through analyzing their proposals. Some of them are here today to receive their packages.”

Mercy Corps Africa Director Mervyn Jouillie spoke of how he had been inspired on previous occasions by the big impact small businesses have made on the economy, “and that was why the grant was created to provide incubator support to enable young entrepreneurs with creative ideas in agriculture, ICT and creative economy start or expand their business concepts.”

Jouillie expressed optimism that the initiative will lead to startups and give a boost to economic growth by issuing a call to entrepreneurs to use the fund wisely to empower their friends that would want to follow their fine examples.

“For us at Mercy Corps, we strongly believe that supporting young entrepreneurs is an opportunity for the organization, because when the youth are empowered, the country will be at peace and will empower other people along the way,” Jouillie said.

He said that Mercy Corps intends to work with partners, because they cannot do it all by themselves; but with the help of others, they can achieve one common goal for Liberia; that is, to empower locals to develop the country.

Beneficiaries of the grant expressed gratitude to Mercy Corps for such an opportunity, which will enable them to expand their businesses.

They promised to use the fund for its intended purpose as is enshrined in the agreement.

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