The Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) in partnership with the international Finance Corporation (IFC) as part of the World Bank Group on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 held for the first time SME Conference which brought together some members of the business community at a local hotel in Monrovia.
The aim of the event is for the SMEs to be able to identify and better articulate the benefits of corporate governance for their operations and performance; by strengthen their framework these businesses will aid development within the private sector in Liberia.
Prior to the start of the conference, the President of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Mr. J. Wendell Addy spoke of the importance of the SME Conference hoping that participants will learn more of how to manage and run their businesses successfully.
For his part, the Senior Private Sector Specialist at the World Bank Group, Mr. Vaanii O. Baker expressed thanks to the organizers of the Conference, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and urged participants to use the SME Conference as a stepping stone in the growth of their respective business.
The Secretary General of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Stephanie Duncan who addressed the SME environment: Challenges and opportunities outlined several issues relating to the objective of the Conference; defining what is SMEs in Liberia, which she noted help to create jobs and eradicate hunger.
Speaking further, Ms. Duncan recalled that 2012 of the 9,000 businesses that were registered at the Liberia Business Registry, only 83 were Liberian owned businesses, and stressed the importance of SMEs are key to economic growth in Liberia. She further disclosed that SMEs are more than 80% of Liberian businesses is also provide care about 60% of the country’s youth.
She named challenges to Liberian business as access to finance, lack of capacity, access to market, infrastructure, delay in payments by government, poor data base among others as some of the challenges face with the Liberian businesses, Ms. Duncan noted.
The Corporate Governance Consultant of IFC, Mohamed Wurie speaking on IFC SME Governance Framework on how this can add value to SMEs in Liberia includes accessing a firm’s corporate governance practices and provide advices on how to improve them; providing specialized advisory services on board effectiveness, the control environment and family business governance, and building capacity of local partners, institute of directors, media, and educational institutions on corporate governance services, training and reporting among others.
For her part, Ms. Jacqueline Williams of IFC also spoke of the importance of family businesses: issues and lessons, tutored participants on how to professionally manage their businesses successfully.
Participants at the SME Conference expressed thanks and appreciation to the organizers; the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank Group, and hope such initiative will continue.
At the end of the conference, a panel of experts including Mr. Francis Dennis, former President of the LCC, the current Secretary of the LCC, Ms. Stephanie Duncan, Jacqueline Williams and Mohamed Wurie both of the IFC was setup to address questions coming from the participants on issues that they need to understand for their businesses to be better.