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A Year in Review: Building Markets Liberia Presents 2015 Market Overview Report

A year ago, containing the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and reducing the escalating number of cases was the number one priority in Liberia. Now, the public health emergency has receded and focus has shifted from disease containment to economic recovery.

To mark the year that began with such uncertainty and ended on a more hopeful note, Building Markets’ USAID Sustainable Marketplace Initiative-Liberia (SMI-L) is pleased to present its annual market overview report: Liberian Businesses: the Engines of Economic Recovery and Growth. Data collected from over 2,000 businesses during 2015 demonstrates the resilience and versatility of MSMEs in post-EVD Liberia. Local businesses won contracts and saw their revenues increase, and they continue to seek new opportunities to expand and improve their businesses. The economic impact of MSMEs cannot be underestimated, and Liberian Businesses: the Engines of Economic Recovery and Growth demonstrates that local businesses drive employment creation, unlock opportunities for local investment and catalyze economy-wide growth.

Tubman Blvd

A bird’s-eye view of Tubman Boulevard, one of Monrovia’s main thoroughfares and prime business locations. (Photo by Allison Bickel)

However, MSMEs continue to face the same constraints as before the EVD outbreak: limited access to finance, insufficient capacity, poor infrastructure and low business skills. Policies and programs have bolstered MSMEs in the past, but in post-EVD Liberia, they are increasingly recognized by the government, development partners and the private sector as the engines of inclusive, sustainable recovery and growth.

Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • Liberian businesses are generally small. Eighty-nine percent of firms employ less than 20 people and 56% reported an annual turnover of less than $20,000 USD;
  • Eighty-eight percent of businesses stated that tenders are easily accessible;
  • Fifty-four percent of buyers think they receive competitively priced proposals from local businesses and 78% believe they receive sufficient and honest information from MSMEs;
  • 1,796 jobs were created as a result of contracts facilitated by Building Markets between January 2015 and October 2015;
  • On average, 10% of local business expenditure goes to salaries. This means that for every $1 USD of local procurement, approximately 10 cents supports a job in Liberia;
  • The multiplier effect for the average business in the sample is 1.81; every $1 USD spent on local procurement results in additional spending in the local economy of 81 cents;
  • Fifty-eight percent of local firms reinvest profits from contracts into their business in the form of employee benefits/training, equipment purchases and expansion.

Building Markets is pleased to publish this Market Overview Report during a critical window of opportunity in post-EVD Liberia to create an enabling business environment that supports the growth and development of MSMEs. Any feedback on the report can be addressed to our Market Research Manager, Allison Bickel, at bickel@buildingmarkets.org.

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