Empowering Small Business Owners
23-year old Josephine Gono, is looking forward to her wedding day scheduled for May 2018. She proudly shows her wedding dress design and smiles when she thinks of sewing it herself.
Josephine is a local seamstress who owns her business in Sanniquellie, Nimba County. She is well known for her skills in dress-making /sewing.
- BOSS is a UNDP-supported project in partnership with the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Commerce. It was established to enhance decentralization and support micro, small and medium enterprises policy implementation in Liberia through the establishment of Business Support Service Centres at the county level
- 0ver 200 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were identified in targeted Counties- Bong, Nimba, Bassa and Margibi for business development training.
- One of UNDP’s priorities in the upcoming year is to help Liberia’s small business owners to access bank loans and properly manage the repayments.
She was among local entrepreneurs who benefited from a business development skills training under the Business Opportunities through Support Services (BOSS), a community empowerment project funded by UNDP.
Josephine says she has become a better entrepreneur as a result of the training and her business is much better than before.
The training covered basic business development skills like customer service, record keeping, basic accounting and reporting among others.
She said prior to the training, she had no knowledge on how to keep record of her business-its income and expenditures. “Now I’ve a book where I keep a record of everything I get and whatever I spend every day.”
“I learned how to plan. When you know how to plan and keep good record, you can make a good business. To make a very good business you must know how to plan,” Josephine said.
“They prepared me to keep a record of my business, how to talk to my customers. Now I know that business pays when you know how to keep a good record and talk to your customers,” she emphasized.
Josephine also hopes to inspire other young women in her community. “I want to empower young girls in the county by giving them skills to be self-reliant. Most of them see me as someone who is blessed because at 23, I have my own business.
Josephine has employed seven people at her shop, six women and one man. Her fiancé, also a Tailor, is a Student of theology at the African Bible College (ABC) in Yekepa, but he helps Josephine at the shop on weekends.
She says since her mother died in 2012, she has been supporting six of her siblings. Josephine dreams of owning a big company one day. “I am proud that I can own a business for myself now.”
Eva Gomeh and her fiancé Nyan Yargawon were also part of the business skills development training organized by UNDP/BOSS for local entrepreneurs.
The couple runs a tailoring center just outside Sanniquellie, in Nimba County. Eva had had no proper accounting and record keeping system prior to the UNDP business development training.
“Now I know that if you keep good record in a business, you are aware of what you are doing. Record keeping is one important thing that I took from the training.” She now has a record of her annual income, daily and monthly expenditures.
Offices are now being created for accountants and the administrators for the business. However, Eva said access to loan remains a challenge for them.
“We are hoping to commence the access to finance component of the project this year. Our assessment team is going out in the field to assess and hold talks with financial institutions who would manage the fund on our behalf, said UNDP-BOSS National Project Manager, Marcus Zarway in response to Eva’s concern.
One of UNDP’s priorities in the upcoming year is to help Liberia’s small business owners to access bank loans and properly manage the repayments.
This is a welcome activity, seeing as many small businesses lack capital, which stifles any potential growth.
“The intent under this project is for socio-economic empowerment of rural enterprises that are faced with multiple constraints through decentralization” Zarway intimated.
Eva and Nyan have employed 10 people and are never short of work. They are contracted to sew school uniforms across the country and looking to expand their business by industrializing the machines to double their output and ensure quality control is paramount.
It’s important, says Nyan that their employees have access to savings, so he has started a pension fund for those who work for him and Eva longer than 5 years. For every Liberian dollar they save, he matches it.
“I want to have 150 employees and make one million dollars. That’s my dream,” Nyan stressed.
They also want to become a major source of employment in an area desperate for economic activity.
“Several of our current employees have been able to save enough money to build houses, and stand on their own two feet”, says Nyan.
BOSS is a UNDP-supported project in partnership with the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Commerce.
It was established to enhance decentralization and support micro, small and medium enterprises policy implementation in Liberia through the establishment of Business Support Service Centres at the county level.
It also strengthens the capacities of youth, women and agri- producing enterprises.
The project is said to be key to the implementation of the small business empowerment act and the micro small and medium enterprise (SMEs) development in Liberia.
“The intent under this project is for socio-economic empowerment of rural enterprises that are faced with multiple constraints through decentralization,” says Marcus Zarway, UNDP-BOSS National Project Manager.