The whole Liberian nation knows that Simeon Freeman is an outstanding Liberian businessman, and a good man. Yesterday’s poor Liberian boy from Grand Bassa, who remembers that he once worked for the Daily Observer, has done well in business. He is the sole distributer in Liberia of DSTV (Digital Satellite TV Service), which connects most homes, businesses and video clubs with television services, including international stations.
Simeon donates generously to charity, including the indigent and others in need.
But he could do even more were he to concentrate on his business and find creative ways in which to expand and develop it.
Even though the Daily Observer runs a daily Business page, we are not business consultants. But here are a few ideas we would like freely to give Mr. Freeman: Think seriously about building mini hydro-electric plants in say three populous counties, including your native Grand Bassa.
That would encourage most of its people to buy TVs to watch the news, sports, movies, etc. Thousands more people and their families would, out of sheer appreciation flock to DSTV. But even without the hydros, Simeon could travel the country and sell his service to the rural people.
There are many huts and homes in the interior with small generators and TVs. Just imagine how much more business he could generate by doing that!
Besides the impact of the mini hydro-electric plants on entertainment, think how much electricity could be generated to support and increase business activities and improve the living standards of people in rural communities.
Another idea would be to crisscross the country selling his business to the people. Just show up in the towns and talk to people about DSTV. Carry with you a small generator and show them what you have to offer.
Moreover, Simeon could award competitive scholarships to students in various counties based on how much local and international TV they watch, beginning with the news. Students would rush to catch the news on DSTV in a bid to win a high school or university scholarship.
Why are we so kind to Simeon? Only because we think he is not spending his time too wisely chasing politics—especially politics that he might not win. He is from Bassa, yes, but he is no Charles Walker Brumskine, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence nor Jonathan Kaipay.
Mr. Freeman also needs to improve his customer service and strive hard, in the wake of recent competition, to reduce his prices. These two fast moves would bring back many of his customers.
Now let us look at the hard political facts. Having been away from home so long, can he claim Grand Bassa as his constituency? Nor can he claim Montserrado, where he has lived for so long, since George Weah, for better or for worse, as long as he’s in politics, has the votes locked down. Why? Montserrado is not the county of the fifties, sixties and seventies. Since the war the county’s population has more than tripled, thanks mainly to internally displaced people from the war, who have found no tangible reason to return to their home counties. You are talking of the poor and economically downtrodden people who have found passionate attraction to football superstar Weah.
Does Simeon have enough money to turn these people to his side? Even if he did, what other counties could he effectively swing over—and at what cost?
For these reasons, we think Simeon should focus on developing and expanding the one talent the good Lord has given him—business acumen. Heaven knows that, with our economy overwhelmingly in the hands of foreigners, we need more serious, resourceful and successful businesspeople like Simeon Freeman.
And by his continued success, he could inspire other Liberians to emulate his noble example. That would be a monumental contribution to nation building.
One last point we would like to pass on to Simeon—and to many others chasing this one Liberian presidency—a target that continues to elude (flee from, confound) many of them. And here is the point: You don’t have to be President to help your country. There are many other ways to help lift Liberia.