Dempster N. Harris and Hawa P. Dorley
Mercycorps has conducted a daylong business oriented training for fifteen (15) SMEs. The SMEs recently benefited from a Mercycorps grant after rigorous vetting process.
Speaking at the opening of the seminar last week, Mr. Nyema Richards, who is also the Prospects Program Manager said the prospects grant initiative is aimed at addressing the gap of unemployment by supporting start-up and small and medium size businesses which in turn will employ disadvantaged youth.
He said Mercycorps was giving the 15 SMEs all the necessary support because as he puts it “ they are poised for growth and development”.
He said the objective of working with the SMEs was to assist these businesses with financial and technical knowledge that will enhance their scope of operation and so as to be able to expand.
According to Mr. Richards, Mercycorps has doled out the grant to the SMEs as means to provide them the financial support that enables them expand their businesses, grow their ideas and create employment opportunities for other young people.
The seminar was also an opportunity for Mercycorps to be brought up to speed on the progress and challenges facing these businesses.
The training was part of a series of activities geared toward the development of a Small Business Toolkit. The small Business Toolkit supports Liberian owned SMEs in the start–up, development, and growth stages of their business.
He said outcome of the exercise will inform the process of developing the contents of the Small Business Toolkit.
The Social Business for development and employment grant is one of three components of Prospects Social Business component, which aims to support 25 businesses broken into: 15 medium to growth stage private sector companies; and 10 start–up companies (co-sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce flagship program, E+). The intervention objective is to create meaningful employment and mitigate labor market failures affecting young women and men through financial and business advisory support from prospects.
Over the last 12 months of the program implementation, 12 (10 E+ and 2 SB) businesses were awarded grants ranging from $8,500 to about $20,000 to support business activities in four key areas of Agriculture, Information Technology (ICT), E-Commerce and service. As a part of the business advisory support provided to businesses, the Social Business grant will also support the development of an SME toolkit to support Liberian owned SMEs at every stage of development.
The overall objective of this training is to get a first-hand understanding of issues regarding business operations that local SMEs experience in an effort to inform the development of an easy to use small business toolkit.