As Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Dr. J. Mills Jones, contributed tens of millions of Liberian and United States dollars to ordinary Liberian businesspeople in order to empower them to improve and expand their businesses. In so doing, he helped them lift themselves out of poverty, better educate their children and improve their living standards.
Dr. Jones is no longer at CBL. Now there is an Acting Executive Governor, Charles Sirleaf, the President’s son. He was part of the Board of Governors that made possible the empowerment of ordinary Liberian businesspeople.
Hopefully, shortly, President Sirleaf is scheduled to appoint a new Executive Governor. If Charles Sirleaf and later, the new CBL Executive Governor are able to steer the CBL in the positive direction that Governor Jones left it, retaining its position as the nation’s richest and most successful public financial institution, how do we know whether the new CBL leader will favor ordinary Liberian businesspeople with the same generosity and vision as Governor Jones?
Remember the ancient saying, “There came a pharaoh that did not know Joseph”?
Joseph, favored son of Jacob, was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. But God’s favor was upon Joseph and he later became the Prime Minister of Egypt because he correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream of seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. The famine spread to Israel and Jacob sent his sons to buy food in Egypt. There they met their younger brother Joseph, but did not know him. He, however, knew them. And when he revealed himself to them, they all bowed to him, in fulfillment of a dream he had as a boy.
As the famine continued in Israel, Joseph sent for his father, brothers and their families. Pharaoh gave them the choicest land in Egypt—Goshen—where they farmed and became very rich.
Alas! Pharaoh died! There came a new Pharaoh who did not know Joseph! So what happened? This new pharaoh enslaved the Israelites for 400 years, just as God had prophesized to Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather. God later sent Moses to Egypt to tell Pharaoh, “Let my people go.”
Lusu Sloan, President, Liberian Marketing Association (LMA), and D. Maxwell Kemayah, President, Liberia Business Association, (LIBA), must now look seriously to the day when the new Central Bank Governor WILL NOT KNOW YOU! So what shall you do—return to the slavery of poverty and powerlessness? That, you know, is what the rest of us Liberians are today—enslaved to the foreigners who completely dominate our commerce and economy. And HARDLY ANY of our pharaohs—the Liberian officials—know anyone called Joseph! They know only Eid, Habib, Haddad, Abi Jaoudi Singh, Punjab, Mustapha and Mohamed—not Joseph, Lusu, Kaema, Bindu, not Dahn, Sonpon, Juah, Flomo or Zizzay.
Mills Jones has done for our small businesspeople one thing more: He has created and sharpened their political sensitivities. But the LMA and LIBA must never forget that that was NOT Mills Jones’ sole intention. His primary aim was to empower them in business, lift them out of poverty and assure them a better future for themselves, their children and country.
So how should the LMA, LIBA, all their members and the microfinance beneficiaries propel themselves in business and economic empowerment and NOT return to the slavery of poverty? Yes, these people should continue to sharpen their political sensitivities, for this is essential, even crucial to the future of Liberia.
But—and this is a BIG BUT—they all should continue to GROW their BUSINESSES and graduate from selling their bitter ball and used clothes on the ground and open their own shops, stores and supermarkets all over the country. They and their children should go into not just retail, but WHOLESALE businesses and become ENTREPRENEURS. And yes, the children should complete high school and university, yet NEVER forget business. After university they should not go seeking jobs. They should rather develop and expand their parents’ businessesor create their own and themselves become employers.
The LMA, LIBA and all the other microfinance beneficiaries Governor Jones empowered should develop their rice, cassava, coffee, cocoa, potato, plantain, pepper and other vegetable farms, and become rich!
While focusing on their businesses, our people must also think about whom we elect in 2017 that will put Liberians first before foreigners in every field of endeavor, including BUSINESS.
In order to make it easy for our leaders to encourage us in business, however, we must be very serious about business—diligent, efficient, totally committed and determined to achieve and succeed!