The Chief of Party at USAID-funded Liberia Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) program, Mrs. Watchen Harris-Bruce, has pledged her program’s technical assistance in taking Liberian enterprises from the micro to the level of viable small and medium enterprises (SMEs). s
The pledge was contained in a statement issued in Monrovia over the weekend to media houses as part of its public relations strategies on their projects in the country.
Mrs. Bruce made the pledge Wednesday, November 6, during the launch of a mini processing center in Tappita, Nimba County.
Sponsored by Chevron Liberia, the facility was constructed by the African Women Entrepreneurs Program (AWEP)-Liberia. Mrs. Bruce described AWEP’s initiative as a means of self-empowerment.
She said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Liberia/IBEX program focuses on enterprise development and provides key business development and financial management services that women enterpreneurs could benefit from.
These services include technical support and capacity-building for SMEs and banks as well as small entrepreneurs accessing finance.
She added that, “IBEX can help prepare your business financial records and loan packages and then refer you to the banks” as well as build bank staffs’ capacity to deal effectively with SMEs. She also pointed out that Liberian entrepreneurs’ reliance should now be on their profits for the expansion and sustainability of their businesses and not on grants and hand-outs which, she noted, are not sustainable but only a means to an end. The women contributed to the construction of the facility by making available the raw materials and also providing the labor.
Speaking earlier, AWEP Ambassador to Liberia, Ms. Rugie Barry said her organization’s objectives is to ensure that the women of Liberia begin to properly package and label processed Liberian products in the country, for export.
Ms. Barry described the processing center as a dream come true and thanked Chevron for the grant to assist Liberian women throughout the country. She expressed the hope that the women would fully utilize the machines and not allow rust and dust to take them over.
The AWEP Ambassador appealed for additional zinc and cement to cover the remaining portion of the roof and plaster the building to protect the machines from the rains. She particularly called on the husbands to see how best they can support their wives to make the project a success.
The agro processing center is equipped with a milling machine, a de-stoner and a solar dryer. In her remarks, Chevron-Liberia’s Social Investment Leader, Ms. Deddeh Howard, called for close collaboration and cooperation between the women and their leadership if they are to succeed.
She, however, renewed her company’s commitment to its production-sharing contract and corporate, social responsibilies in the areas of health, education and enterprise development.
The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Director of Treasury, Armaso Bawn, who proxied for the CBL Executive Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones at the program, encouraged AWEP Liberia to explore some of CBL’s credit stimulus initiatives that may possibly include one that supports its cause.
Meanwhile, AWEP Liberia is shortly expected to launch similar mini-processing centers in Lofa and Bong Counties, as it extends its services to other parts of Liberia.
The African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) was started in 2010 in Washington D.C., United States of America, and was officially launched in Liberia in 2012 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.