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Breaking Down Barriers Together

When it comes to access to finance for SMEs in Monrovia, there are pretty much only two games in town: Building Market’s Factor Finance for Procurement (3FP) and Investing in Business Expansion program (IBEX). As 3FP is to Building Markets, IBEX is to International Executive Service Corps (IESC). 3FP is funded by the IFC while IBEX is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Both programs work to break down the barriers to lending between Liberian banks and Liberian businesses. In order to avoid duplication, increase cooperation and therefore increase the overall impact of both programs, 3FP and IBEX signed an MOU on Monday, October 14. Building Markets is looking forward to this formal collaboration.

3FP's Country Director Javier Betancourt shakes hands with IBEX's Chief of Party Watchen Bruce after signing the MOU.

Prior to the agreement, IBEX and 3FP, as well as SMI-L, have collaborated many times before. This is due to the similar nature and goals of both programs. IBEX provides risk management and outreach and technical assistance to SMEs interested in accessing credit. 3FP also provides technical assistance to SMEs in the form of preparing financials, writing business plans and navigating the credit process. 3FP also ensures that the banks it works with take the time to review loan applications submitted by the SMEs.

Together, IBEX and 3FP sit on the policy committees of the National Investment Commission and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Both projects worked together to help plan the nation’s first MSME Conference and Trade Fair, in which the $1 million LIFE fund (Liberia Innovation Fund for Entrepreneurship) to help businesses access credit was announced.

3FP looks forward to collaborating in the future with IBEX on helping investors find opportunities in Liberia while helping SMEs access credit to enable their businesses to grow and find success. Sharing information between the two programs is the best way to do this.

The 3FP concept grew out of Building Markets’ experiences working with SMEs throughout the world through the Sustainable Marketplace Initiative (previously called the Peace Dividend Marketplace). As part of the G-20 SME Finance Challenge by President Obama, the 3FP concept won the People’s Choice Winner. 3FP began its pilot project in Liberia in December 2012. So far, the program has helped SMEs access more than $7 million in credit. For more information about the idea behind the program, click here.

 

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