Weah Launches US$3M Loan Scheme for Small Businesses

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President Weah (2nd from left) and platform guests, including LBDI president John B. S. Davies (far right) launch the Liberia Business Development Fund with a symbolic check of US$3 million

In fulfillment of some of his campaign promises to empower Liberian-owned businesses, President George Weah launched a US$3 million Pro-poor Loan Scheme aimed at empowering “struggling Liberian businesses to surmount their ordeals.”

It can be recalled that in his inaugural speech early this year, the President promised to enunciate policies and programs towards the empowerment of Liberians to take ownership of the country’s economy, instead of them being mere spectators.

The program, which was held at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) branch in Red Light, Paynesville City, brought together government officials, business people, partners and superintendent of the Red Light market, Janjay Dennis.

President Weah said the launch of the US$3 million micro-finance loan scheme for Liberian businesses indicates concrete steps to place citizens in a controlling position of the economy.

He said one of his greatest desires has been to find ways by which Liberian-owned businesses would benefit from loans to move them from low to high business levels; from traders to manufacturers.

“Since I took over as President, there have been so many programs and occasions in which I have participated to support and advance the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development,” President Weah said.

He added, “the launch of this scheme is just another milestone in helping you overcome poverty, and become masters of your own destinies.”

He reassured Liberian businesses that his government would prioritize their interest and offer programs to help them become more competitive.

“Today is the launch of the Liberian Business Development Fund (LBDF). We are here today to witness a promise fulfilled. The LBDF has been established by my government as a multi-million dollar loan scheme exclusively for Liberian businesses and micro-finance institutions,” he said.

He said Liberians will have borrowing access to the LBDF to enable them produce goods and services for the domestic market.

“My desire is to strengthen and support you, so that ordinary business people will be able to move from sidewalks to stores,” Weah said.

He continued, “this is to help them move from the level of petty markets to manufacturing, and from being spectators to being active participants in the national economy; so that in the near future, Liberian businesses will be able to take ownership of the Liberian economy.”

He said the interest rate on the loan scheme remains pro-poor in nature, one of the lowest in the Liberian financial market, with flexible collateral requirement and payment procedure over time.

Weah then admonished potential borrowers that the loans are not free money and they must exercise responsibility and seriousness in repaying their loans on time in order to create access for other Liberians.

He said the micro-loan scheme will be available and accessible in all the 15 political sub-divisions of Liberia and will be intended for vulnerable business struggling to recover and compete.

The President used the occasion to assure Liberians that his government would use every available cent on developing the country.

John B. S. Davies, president of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) lauded President Weah for ensuring that such money is provided to Liberian-owned businesses.

Mr. Davies said the launch of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development earlier in Ganta, Nimba County will serve as a focal point for rallying the growth of the economy.

“As president of LBDI and chairman of the Liberian Bankers Association, along with colleagues across government, see it necessary to incentivize the pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development,” Mr. Davies said.

“Today, we sow a seed as a partnership with the government to ensure that access to finance for small businessmen and businesswomen who, in any country, serve as the bedrock of the economy,” he said.

Of the US$3 million, Mr. Davies said the government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning made available US$1 million, while the LBDI made the remaining US$2 million available, lauding the Board of Directors of LBDI for making such worthy initiative.

He said the US$3 million will impact over 1650 small businesses across the country, stating: “It’s our expectation, honorable President, that five major areas will be affected positively, including trade, agriculture, service, manufacturing and transport.

According to Mr. Davies, beneficiaries of the loan will pay only 7 percent as interest rate for a year on the money received.

Mr. Davies continued: “everyone who has tertiary education knows that small business is the way to grow an economy. We agreed that it’s in our interest and a number of things will be done through this initiative.”

He also assured the government and the Liberian people that the money will go to small businesses.

Mr. Davies added that the loan also stands to be gender sensitive, and will also prioritize the vulnerable people who over the years have been overlooked, including the visually impaired people.

Wilson Tarpeh, Minister of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), said the provision of the loan was as a result of President Weah’s steadfastness and support for private sector development.

Minister Tarpeh said the Commerce Ministry along with partnering institutions is poised to ensure the success of the US$3 million loan scheme.

2 COMMENTS

  1. If banks, in the private sector, aren’t willing to lend money to Liberian owned small businesses, why is the government getting involved? Do you think the President and the bureaucrats in government know who should get loans better than the people who are in the business of making loans? I don’t think so.

    Look. Anytime you allow a government ministry or agency to pick the winners and losers of government contracts, loans, etc, the consequences are corruption, cronyism and stealing!

    In 2014, the Liberian Government established a program called PSDI (Private Sector Development Initiatives) to provide loans to Liberian owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). And guess what happen?

    According to the government internal auditor’s report, the man in charged of PSDI, Deputy Minister James Kollie, was handing out taxpayers money (loans) like Halloween candies to his concubines and political cronies! Many of them (PSDI applicants) had No collateral, No physical address, No comprehensive marketing survey, but they still got the loan!

    It’s criminal for the President to use other people’s hard earned money (tax dollars) to underwrite loans for bogus Liberian owned business! It really is.

  2. You can offer all the loans you want just do not tamper with our Liberian monies placed in Liberian banks. we must have them when we need them to give them to our children and grand, selling in the general markets and side walls or in pellet sales to keep the daily bread of the people and put them in well equipped schools. This is the survival base of the nation. As these sellers leave the streets selling and up grade themselves, Government should make incentives, optional, with public developed market spaces with business protection like reduction on permit tickets in the general market and reduced price for petite business licenses for Liberians. Not trying to impose foreign currency in commercial and investment banks to use the poor people hard working Liberian money until they are ready to put it back or use for their own official desires or personal tastes. This is one of the reasons why banks were busted and looted before and after the war resulting from many deaths. The people need their monies and the bank times were closed. We can no longer allow local currency shortage at times in bank. They must be made available to the constant flow of market price activities. We will not allow pro-plan to steal from pro-poor. Make your point to the Liberian people. No me.
    Gone to the silent people.

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