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Buy Local, Build Liberia Campaign Kicks Off with a Radio Spot

Although Liberia is an English-speaking country, the local English spoken by Liberians is very distinct. Often referred to as Liberian English, or Simple English, but also called “collunqua” by locals, it is not easily understood by non-African English speakers. Likewise, locals do not find North American, British, or Australian English easy to understand.

This poses a communications challenge, especially for those with limited education and the marginally literate, or those who are not used to foreign accents. For an organization like Building Markets, which is seeking to find local entrepreneurs and connect them with international buyers from multinationals and NGOs, the language gap works against interaction, and can cause confusion and misunderstandings.

This is a challenge even in the case of Building Markets explaining its own services to these local businesses. Some of the vocabulary and technical descriptions, for instance of Verification and Tender Distribution, are unfamiliar to many Liberians, who either become confused or stop listening to the message. Our brochures and website don’t help to explain what it is we set out to do. This can be a difficult issue when introducing ourselves in new communities, where suspicion of unknown organizations further works against spreading our services to new businesses.

However, the various radio stations in Liberia have a nationwide following, broadcasting far beyond the capital Monrovia to places where there are no newspapers or other media. There is a half-joking maxim among Liberians that if you hear something on the radio, then it must be true! Making use of this popular format, which also overcomes issues of literacy and reading comprehension, Building Markets has recorded this Liberian English radio spot, describing our organization and what we offer to businesses. Have a listen for yourself, below. If you are in Liberia, perhaps you will hear this on the local radio this month as we launch or Buy Local, Build Liberia campaign later this month!

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