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Going, Going, Gone Green

“When it comes to environmental issues, [what was taught today] are things I didn’t know,” said Isaac Doboyou, Administrative Assistant and Finance Officer of Liberia Reconstruction and Development Company.

Since its inception in Liberia in April 2012, Building Markets discovered that most business owners don’t know much about environmental standards and regulations. Many don’t know that the Government of Liberia has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), let alone its mandate and the importance of considering the environment in every day practices.

It was with this knowledge that Building Markets, in partnership with the Monrovia City Corporation and the EPA, hosted a Go Green Environmental awareness, training and matchmaking event last week from August 13-15th. Just over 100 local businesses attended from medium to high impact sectors, such as waste collection, fumigation, printing and copying, and construction. MCC, EPA and Building Markets all provided technical trainings related to the environment.

Isaac said that he learned the most from the MCC’s training on chemicals and pollution while others said the mandate and regulations of the EPA was the subject they knew the least about.

“A lot of topics covered, I didn’t know, [such as] ways to sustain the environment,” said Jimmy Wright, the Project Finance Officer of Tohnlo Women and Youth Training Empowerment Program, which trains women how to make and sell soap.

On the third day, a matchmaking event took place in the afternoon. Seven buyers attended, including Winrock SHOPS, Chevron and the World Food Programme, among others. This portion of the event allowed suppliers to network with buyers.

“It’s an eye opener,” said Helen Kulue, General Manager of Safety Plus, Inc. “Matchmaking connects us to buyers we cannot meet easily.” Helen set up future meetings with WFP and an organization that works with unemployed youth to discuss ways they can work together. “If it hadn’t been for this event, I wouldn’t get these opportunities,” Helen said.

A local supplier (left) wearing a Go Green t-shirt meets with a buyer during the matchmaking portion of the event.

Such events are not only an eye opener for local businesses. Buyers meet companies selling items they need that they didn’t know existed, and partners often realize gaps in knowledge or miscommunication.

For example, a representative of the EPA said they needed to make technical trainings more available to businesses, in particular on how to properly and safely discard asbestos. For Building Markets, we learned important information that would improve our Environmental training modules and met businesses working with MCC that can also benefit from our services. We can help these businesses find more customers and expand their business.

The event garnered significant press coverage from All Africa, New Liberia, Liberian Nation, the Microscope, Truth F.M. and one particularly flattering op-ed from The New Dawn (not all local newspapers have Web sites).

Events like these provide invaluable opportunities for Building Markets to interact with local businesses and publicize our services. However, they also allow Building Markets to provide more comprehensive business development services by bringing together a variety of partners, each with their own strengths and specialties. While Building Markets does offer two training modules on environmental awareness, we are not the experts in this subject that MCC and EPA are. Providing a space where local businesses can learn about why they should care about environmental standards straight from those who know it best is invaluable to local businesses.

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