Liberian Business Owners Participate in First Trade Fair

May 17, 2013

The DAI-led Food and Enterprise Development (FED) project in Liberia earlier this month facilitated a trade fair and conference focusing on the private sector—the first time a conference of its kind has ever been held in the country.

The event—”From Vision to Implementation—Buying Liberian, Building Liberia”—was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. It entailed a two-day conference and a three-day trade fair, where more than 50 local small companies were represented.

photo courtesy of the Center for Global Development

The Government of Liberia, with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded FED program and partners, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Liberia Better Business Forum (LBBF), Building Markets and other stakeholders, brought together about 680 participants from small local firms, microfinance institutions, banks, and civil society organizations.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (pictured above in lavendar) encouraged business owners to take advantage of the many opportunities the event offered. “You should see this not only as an opportunity to showcase your products, but also to take advantage of the exposure to experts in the field, multinational corporations, and members of the financial sector,” she is quoted as saying in opening remarks.

The goal of the trade fair was to help the government take stock of the micro, small, and medium enterprise sector in Liberia, deliver training to the firms for all stages of development, and examine practical steps that other supporting players such as banks and microfinance institutions can take to promote economic growth.

Representatives from 44 FED-supported lead farmer groups and agribusinesses from across six counties were in attendance, and seven FED-supported businesses participated in the trade fair.

On the second day of the conference, FED organized a two-hour breakout session, “Enabling Policies to Stimulate Growth in Agriculture,” to provide participants an opportunity to discuss the latest findings and current policy reforms around seed certification, crop protection chemicals, and livestock policy.

President Sirleaf has high aspirations for a future trade fair. “By this time next year, when we hold the second MSME conference, I hope to hear that companies exhibiting here today have improved their products, found new customers, and grown their markets.”

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