Live from the city of hospitality, on September 30, 2021.
Entrepreneurs from the ten semi-finalist ventures gathered for a three-day Visioning Boot-camp in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County. Those in attendance were warmly welcomed by a local traditional dance group that created a relaxing ambiance. Then came the dialogues, Deputy UNDP Country Representative to Liberia, Violet Baffour urged the ten participants that were selected for the Growth Accelerator Liberia programme, to take ownership of the program, and to use it to create massive impact nationally. Madam Baffour explained that UNDP believes in what will drive and deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, as such, they must do whatever it takes to grow their businesses and make an impact. “This is your space, not a UNDP space or any other. Therefore, take it as your own. Grow it to create jobs for other Liberians and change the lives of others. Grow for your customers, especially for Liberia because when you grow it that means you will employ other people who will impact others’ lives,” she said.
The boot camp follows an arduous application process and a competitive vetting system that led to the selection of the ten (10) semifinalists of the program. The event was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) and other international partners virtually.
Luther Jeke, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of iCampus Liberia, provided an overview of the program and said the Accelerator program was set up to equip these businesses with mentorship, technical assistance, and financial incentives -of up to 40,000 USD- to enable them to grow and achieve
sustainability. “For instance, Covid-19 has starkly highlighted how having access to digital assets and connectivity as well as a bank account, and digital ID is key in the increasingly integrated global economy. The growth accelerator is a proven model that works,” Jeke said. He highlighted that the application process went on for ten (10) days and forms were made available both online and offline, with about 167 applications received from businesses in nine Counties in Liberia, although the programme specifically targeted seven (7) Counties. According to him, the primary Counties included: Grand Gedeh, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Nimba, and Sinoe counties.
Jeke disclosed the selected businesses include the following ventures:
Kodah Enterprises (Poultry).
Evergreen Enterprise and Trading Inc.
The Lunch Box.
Modern Agro Corporation.
Youmtornor Enterprise and Developmental Services Inc.
Ma-Bandu Steel Mill.
Nimba Venture Inc.
How were these businesses selected? Mr. Jeke indicated that an Independent Investment Committee, comprising representatives from the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Liberia Business Association, Central Bank of Liberia, and Ministry of Commerce and Industry, vetted and selected the ten businesses. The boot camp was facilitated -in person- by two internationally accredited business development specialists who provided participating entrepreneurs with training covering; understanding customers, handling competitors, and product innovation. Each venture had two representatives in attendance. What did the participants think about the training? They lauded and expressed immense appreciation to the UNDP Liberia, iCampus Liberia, and partners.
Representatives from the ventures present vowed to apply the knowledge provided to take their individual businesses to the next level.