The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in collaboration with the Liberia Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) and with a USD1.5 million funding from the Government of Japan has empowered nearly 200 Liberian returnees through Entrepreneurship Development Training.
On January 11, at the William V. S. Tubman High School on 12th Street, Sinkor, Monrovia, a lively graduation ceremony of 193 Liberian returnees, who had completed an extensive 120-hour training in Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP).
Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly, Education Minister Etmonia Tarpeh, who represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as well as LRRRC Executive Director, Cllr. Abla G. Williams, graced this occasion.
In her opening remarks, Madam Williams outlined some of the achievements the Liberian Government has made in helping Liberians returning home to resettle; such as the provision of US$250,000 to support the reintegration projects of the Commission, as well as funding the academic education and skills training fees for returnees studying at various institutions. However, she stated that despite these interventions, challenges remain for the Commission.
“Against this backdrop, the Japanese Government in collaboration with the GOL, LRRRC, and UNIDO were able to draw out plans that would provide skills to returnees in entrepreneurial development for self-employment,” Cllr. Williams stated.
The EDP is the heart of this UNIDO’s intervention and responses to the need of the majority of Liberian returnees, who wish to set up their own businesses.
Education Min. Etmonia Tarpeh congratulated the graduates on their achievement and encourage them, with their new skill, to enter the world of work.
Liberian trainers, who had been trained by UNIDO in TOT last September, carried out the trainings of 193. This was an important step in capacitating Liberians to train their fellow citizens in how to start and manage a business.
Internal Affairs Min. Morris Dukuly, who delivered the keynote speech, praised the graduates: “The fact that you desired to be part of this entrepreneurial development training is evidence that you do not want to be held back. I am commending your courage and decision to return home.”
Minister Dukuly emphasized that “If there were a time when Liberia ever needed its people to just begin to believe in themselves, in their country, and in the promise of recovery, reconstruction, and social- economic development of our country that time is now. We have had 10 consecutive years of peace and we must work each of us in small and big ways to advance, nurture, and strengthen peace in Liberia.”
The training comes in time, as it is in line with the economic agenda of the Government of Liberia, which identified the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as central focus to foster growth in Liberia.
The EDP training is part of a comprehensive UNIDO intervention, which contributes to the efforts of the Government of Liberia in empowering and reintegrating the Liberian returnees. The project will assist more than 800 Liberian returnees through high standard training in Entrepreneurship development and in marked-driven vocational skills.