Of all the people, concessions and companies that have massively exploited Nimba County of its forests, its minerals—diamonds, gold, iron ore—and its labor, one of the few who emerged to give back by engaging seriously in other businesses is Tomah Seh Floyd.
Why? What is it about this young man that has caused us this year to single him out among Liberians?
The first thing about him is that he, though hailing from a poor maternal family in Sanniquellie District, is enterprising. He is so enterprising that though he did not graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Tubman University, Floyd did not go from office to office seeking employment. He entered business, starting first as a producer and seller of charcoal. He then moved on to an extractive industry engagement, alluvial mining, and made some money from diamonds.
This intelligent and highly focused young fellow, unlike many who made quick money from Liberia’s extractive resources, LAMCO and many diamond dealers, mostly foreigners, Tomah has come back to give back. He started grocery stores that quickly flourished.
Floyd then opened gas stations, and when these, too, began to do well, Floyd quickly branched off into the hotel business, building Sanniquellie’s first modern, 50-room guesthouse. Now he owns and operates three in Sanniquellie, with a 150-room capacity.
Floyd then moved to Ganta, Nimba County’s commercial capital, where he not only opened other grocery stores, but two more Jackie’s guesthouses—named after his wife. One of these hotels is the city’s most modern. Floyd then took a big jump. He traveled to Monrovia where he ventured into the Lebanese-Indian heartland, Via Town and Clara Town, and opened a wholesale clothing store with goods from China!
This clearly demonstrates that Tomah Seh Floyd is just beginning. Under his business name, Jungle Water Investment, Inc., he has also built a guesthouse in Monrovia, in addition to his own family compound.
He has done the same thing in his hometown, Sanniquellie’s Yaphea District, where his compound houses his family, including his mother.
Two things more we need to say about Tomah Floyd—and we hope and pray that this will inspire many of Liberia’s sons and daughters who were far more fortunate to have been raised by both parents, most of them very wealthy. Floyd has never met his father. After his mother became pregnant with Tomah, the father disappeared! So the child was left to be raised by his mother, whose family name he has carried all his life. Secondly, Tomah has a scholarship program that awards hundreds of scholarships to poor Liberians.
By telling the story of Tomah’s missing father, we wish to reassure the sons and daughters who hail from prominent, well to do families that it is not too late to venture into business and become entrepreneurs.
Mr. Floyd is not the only Nimbaian forging ahead in business. We have in the past frequently spoken about Prince Howard, who a few months ago established a garment factory in Ganta. This was even after he suffered heavy losses when looters in Ganta, mainly motorbike drivers and youth, destroyed his hotel in Ganta. But the indomitable Prince did not give up. He is rebuilding his hotel, which is now 80 percent complete, according to our Nimba Correspondent Ishmael Menkor.
Another Nimbaian in business is Mrs. Jestina Yormie who recently erected a one-story restaurant in Ganta. And how did she get started?
By selling water and soft drinks from a wheelbarrow on the streets of Ganta.
Another Ganta female entrepreneur is Mrs. Felicia Yormie (no relation to Jestina), who also started from wheelbarrow peddling, and now owns and operates a home supply store in Ganta, selling pans and dishes imported from Monrovia, La Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere.
We are watching Nimba for more entrepreneurs, which the Daily Observer will bring to public’s attention, in our determined bid to encourage more Liberians to start their own businesses.
We again appeal to all our education institutions, beginning with the University of Liberia and Cuttington University, to introduce business, including Marketing and Import Export training, and entrepreneurial development as a core part of their curricula.
This will motivate more and more of our people to enter the lucrative field of business and become independent and prosperous, just like Tomah, Prince Howard, Jestina and Felicia in Sanniquellie and Ganta as well as the many foreign residents in Liberia, who dominate Liberian commerce and industry.
With more Liberians emulating Tomah Floyd and his fellow Nimbaian entrepreneurs, the end of foreign domination of Liberian commerce and industry is in sight. But all stakeholders must come aboard, beginning with the Government, led by the Finance and Commerce Ministries and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).