The Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has urged 100 agriculture trainees to set their future ambitions on becoming entrepreneurs.
Mr. Antonio Vigilante spoke recently at a program held in Bentol City to acquaint him with successes and challenges at Center Songhai Liberia Initiative (CSLI).
Vigilante said that CSLI would not be sustainable if it does not partner with the private sector and remains independent, pointing out that even long term support from government and partners cannot generate what is necessary for CSLI’s to be sustainable.
“The private sector must be seen as the critical arm to bring greater benefits to agri-business at CSLI,” Mr. Vigilante asserted.
He reminded the trainees that the future is in their hands because the agri-business knowhow and technical skills being acquired will make them successful entrepreneurs.
“Make use of the professional skills today at the CSLI and I believe tomorrow you can transform yourselves for sustainable livelihoods,” Mr. Vigilante told the trainees.
As stakeholders in Liberia’s overall development, Mr. Vigilante said support partners must make available microfinance the prime indicator of microloans to entrepreneurs in Liberia.
Mr. Vigilante noted that Liberia depends heavily on the export of rubber and iron ore, the prices of which have declined on the world market.
“Our approach at the moment is to attach entrepreneurship to institutions that continue to expand to other parts of the country,” Mr. Vigilante said.
“I wish that some of you will become successful entrepreneurs in tomorrow’s Liberia and don’t forget that everyone will not become rich, super rich, but some of you will excel at certain appreciable levels in most of your business endeavors,” he added.
Earlier, CSLI Program Director Christopher K. Fayia made a power point presentation outlining some of the success stories of training programs from a few years ago.
He disclosed that past trainees continue to make some impact in small business enterprises in their various communities in the country.
Mr. Fayia also indicated that CSLI covers a land area of 1,500 acres while Bonzu, the community where the center conducts its agric-business training courses in Bentol City, comprises 28 villages.
He said that CSLI’s objectives include making the rural sector competitive and profitable so that agriculture endeavors can be transformed into businesses for young people.
He further explained that the trainers at the CSLI are themselves entrepreneurs who impact the trainees as a result.
Fayia disclosed that the current training program at CSLI runs for 18 months after which the trainees return to their communities to practice what they learned at the center.
He said the CSLI needs funding to ensure continuity of the training program.
“We need vehicles to convey trainees, commodities, staff on farm visits and other activities in various parts of Montserrado County,” Director Fayia noted