Women Entrepreneurs Call for Partnership, Cooperation

… At the final round of talks on the business climate in Liberia

Businesswomen under the banner of the Federation of Liberian Women Entrepreneurs (FEBWE) have stressed the need for unity if they are to triumph over foreign company dominance in the Liberian economy.

The women who shared their experiences of doing business in Liberia highlighted several challenges ranging from agriculture to economic empowerment, but with a greater focus on access to finance and networks.
“Individually it is not possible, but partnership and cooperation is. So we need to unite as entrepreneurs, use our resources and create other viable businesses. I think now is the time for us to come together and only then will we know that liberalization policies are at work. If we work together, we can beat foreign companies and we need to start looking in that direction,” the women said.

Most of them indicated that access to finance severely hampered them and as a result they were unable to expand their businesses due to the high interest rates charged by commercial banks and other financial institutions.

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During the day-long discussion, held at the US Embassy in Monrovia, the women said most of them had been restricted to certain markets by their male counterparts. However, with courage and determination, most of them are doing bigger business today, although they still need support from the national government.

The women entrepreneurs spoke at the concluding roundtable of the Liberian Women in Business Dialogue on the Liberian Business Climate Roundtable, held on September 22 at the US Embassy in Monrovia.

The event will provide an opportunity for women entrepreneurs in the country as well as the diaspora (US and Canada) to discuss the challenges of doing business in Liberia and to develop recommendations for improving the business climate for women entrepreneurs as well as for women in Liberia.

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In 2019, the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs launched a new State Department initiative to advance women’s economic empowerment called the POWER (Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise) program.

The initiative uses diplomatic resources to advance women in business and works with the private sector to build professional networks and business environments focused on advancing women’s economic empowerment in a global context.

According to FEBWE Liberia, they will also serve as a roadmap for lobbying the Liberian legislature for policies that ensure women entrepreneurs are treated fairly.

“I’m sure that when women work together, they narrow the space instead of everyone doing their own thing. So once we work together, it will be easy to achieve a breakthrough and we should look forward to that,” participants said.

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The dialogue, moderated by Charlene Carey and FEBWE Advisory Council Chair Luopu Garmi Blackie, was attended by National Investment Commission (NIC) Chair Molewuleh B. Gray, Esq., representing the Government of Liberia. Also present were Akaii Lmeberger, Agribusiness Advisor at the Ministry of Agriculture; Theresa M. Davies, General Secretary, Liberia Business Association (LIBA); and Mark J. Schaver, Economics Officer at the US Embassy in Monrovia.

Based on the discussion, the team will develop an action plan with measurable and sustainable recommendations for improving the business climate for women, and the action plan will serve as a roadmap for lobbying legislators for policies that ensure women entrepreneurs are treated fairly.

The women are supported by the United States government through its sponsored program, Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER).

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