Three executives of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) are back home exploring ways to establish a financial institution through which members of ULAA can directly use as an investment bank to help the economy of their struggling nation.
In an exclusive interview recently, the head of the delegation and Chairman of ULAA’s Board, Mr. Alfred Sieh, said in addition to setting up the bank, they are also in Liberia to continue discussions with major stakeholders in the government on their dual citizenship quest and also to further explore ways to set up a “Diaspora Educational Resource Center.”
Sieh stressed that their push for dual citizenship, which has been their advocacy since 2012, would always be chief among all the items on their agenda.
“As you know, before the economy grows, it must grow from the middle. We believe that establishing an investment bank here is one of the ways to help build the economy of Liberia from the middle,” Sieh said.
Sharing their experience, Sieh said for small business owners to get loans from banks in Liberia is not favorable. “You don’t expect to give me a loan today and you expect me to start paying while I have not even started the investment. So, it means that the very loan you have given me, which is the ‘principal, I am using the principal to start paying on the loan interest. So, it hasn’t been favorable.”
He stated ULAA’s financial institution, when set up, will help Liberian businesses to sustain their businesses and create flexibility for those owners to have some “turnovers” before they can begin paying their loans. He, however, added that the bank is not only going to be there “just to give out loans,” but it will tackle financing projects including agriculture.
Sieh did not say exactly when their investment bank would be set up, but assured that they have now begun discussions with some senior officials in the financial sector. He also mentioned that the capital base of their financial institution is going to be in the amount required by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), and those monies are going to be direct deposits of Liberians who reside in other countries across the world, including North America, Europe and Australia.
Diaspora Education Center
Conrade Nyekan, ULAA Board Member, stated: “Realizing that Liberia’s education sector needs to be improved, ULAA has taken the initiative to negotiate with families or interested parties to open a resource center.”
Nyenkan further added that the learning center will include laboratory and rooms in the Center will be named after “permanent” people or institutions in the society.
The organdization disclosed that interested persons or institutions will have to donate a little amount towards the project so as to have a room named in their honor.
Chiming in, Mr. Sieh said one of the reasons why Liberian students had failed massively in the West African Exams is the lack of laboratory equipped with resource materials; therefore, he said it is such a problem that ULAA is trying to set up this project in order to improve students’ capacities in the sciences.
“We Liberians are proud people; so, we felt that we can’t sit back and continue to see our students failing in the science courses. We, therefore, decided to have a center where we will have a science lab.
Sieh thinks that by implementing such a project, high school teachers’ capacities will be improved.
He also disclosed that ULAA is going to negotiate with the Lebanese and Indian Communities to form a collaboration in this project.
At the moment, these two foreign communities operate the largest business including building material stories around the country.
Mr. Frank Carter, National Executive Vice President of ULAA, also added that even though both projects are very important, ULAA is, however, going to focus more on getting the bank set up. Carter said they are working to get it setup before they depart Liberia for the United States.