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Developing Business Plans: Expanding Opportunities

Peace and post-war recovery efforts in Liberia are being championed by many players, including Woodwork Shop. As its name clearly suggests, the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) Woodwork Shop produces office and household-related furniture. Located in a rural town Gben Gbah 15km away from Monrovia, the enterprise initially focused on residents in the small town but eventually spread beyond its operating region. Initially staffed by its founder and general manager, Rev. G. William Kanga, and two novice volunteers, Woodwork Shop now has three full-time employees and three volunteers. At first, doing business was difficult in many ways, due to lack of resources, low level of incentives, networks  and information to grow and expand. Additionally, well-established buyers, such as NGOs and concessionaires, and banks are not willing to do business with an SME without a business plan. Moreover, banks require a well-developed business plan from SMEs seeking credit. Yet Rev. Kanga didn’t know how to prepare one.

This is a familiar story to Building Markets. Since December 2012, Building Markets’ access to finance program called Factor Finance

for Procurement (3FP)offers a training that covers financial management and business plans. So far, Building Markets trained 370 businesses. From the training, Building Markets saw the need for a specialized training for businesses, who had taken 3FP training, and were currently drafting their business plan. The first one of its kind took place on Wednesday November 13 and featured 12 number of businesses, including Rev. Kanga of Woodwork Shop.

Participants at a Building Markets training event

During the training, Rev. Kanga learned how to develop and manage his own business plan thus attracting more customers and setting long-term goals and objectives. His business plan will enable him to better manage his earnings and be able to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of his business over the short and long-term.

“I thought it was prudent to take advantage of the [training] since such training was not only hardly available in Liberia but also quite difficult to find a specialist trainer for it,” said Rev. Kanga “The training has served as an eye opener and will help me to be much more focused in my business operations,” Rev. Kanga said. Unlike previously when he did things as they popped up in his mind and without regard to long-term business strategy, he now knows that to have a successful business, he must have a plan to guide him along the way. This was particularly important, he said, to be able to navigate such a competitive business environment with so many economic difficulties.

Rev. Kanga intends to transfer the skills he has acquired during the one-day course to his colleagues and even beyond. Operationally, he will continue to develop his master business plan to share with future clients and other interested buyers, as well as to access a loan in order to expand his production and service delivery. He plans to serve as an ambassador of sorts to share this training opportunity with others and encourage them to follow in his footprints.

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