Liberia: Overview & Impact

Launched
2011

Country Context

Population: 4.5 million (World Bank, 2015)

Languages: English, 29 African languages belonging to the Mande, Kwa or Mel linguistic groups

Monetary unit: Liberian Dollar, US Dollar is also accepted

Main Exports: Diamonds, iron ore, rubber, timber, coffee, cocoa

GNI per capita: US $380 (World, Bank, 2015)

ODA received: $744 million (World Bank, 2014)

Human Development Index ranking: 177 out of 188 (UNDP, 2015)

Estimated GDP growth: 3.8% (World Bank, 2016)

Liberia is rich with market opportunities. In recent years, private investment has increased considerably with billions of dollars in concession agreements completed or underway in the mineral, petroleum, rubber, timber, and palm oil sectors. There is tremendous potential for this investment to promote wider economic growth through local sourcing. Several multinational corporations are already exploring ways to increase their local procurement and investors are increasingly interested in identifying new growth opportunities. 

Products & Services

4,639
$92,872,110
4,382

Operating in Liberia for five years, Building Markets has deep knowledge of the local private sector and the largest and most comprehensive network of verified Liberian SMEs. This information and expertise is used to run its USAID funded Sustainable Marketplace Initiative program, which promotes job creation and inclusive economic growth by enabling supply chain linkages between larger buyers and local suppliers.

Bringing Visibility to Local Firms and Markets

Building Markets has collected detailed business profiles of over 4,100 SMEs in Liberia. This information is used to identify trends, challenges, and opportunities in the marketplace, to connect local firms to new business opportunities, and to inform products and services offered:

  • Launched and maintained a local business directory that includes up-to-date profiles of all SMEs in Building Markets network;
  • Researched and published Liberia’s first in-depth mining sector overview report and a timber value chain study in the forestry sector;
  • Conducted research to identify drivers of conflict in concession zones and specific ways the private sector can mitigate potential conflict;
  • Leveraged SME network to undertake research on the impact of Ebola on the local economy and cross-border trade with Sierra Leone and Guinea;
  • Published an annual Market Overview Reports that provides a snapshot of the Liberian economy;
  • Worked with the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) to increase their expertise in data collection and analysis of the local business sector.

Building Capacity

Building Markets provides basic and advanced training across a range of topics to SMEs to improve their competitiveness and success. Training topics including procurement standards, financial literacy, management and business planning, sales and marketing, environmental awareness and practices, and customer service.

  • Trained 1,228 businesses (75% are owned or managed by women) helping them improve their business knowledge and successfully compete for and win contracts;
  • Funded by Humanity United, the Supplier Diversity Project increases the skills of the Liberian workforce to capitalize on the economic opportunities offered by international companies and, in turn, encourages these companies to develop local supply chains, capacity, and livelihoods;
  • The Supplier Diversity Project also supports the inclusion of vocational and entrepreneurial training programs in Liberian institutes of higher education to provide livelihood skills, particularly for at-risk youth.

Connecting SMEs to Supply Chains and Investment

Building Markets integrates local SMEs into supply chains and connects them to growth opportunities by making valuable information available to suppliers, buyers, and investors through the following activities:

  • Disseminated over 5,000 tenders to SME network via hard copy, SMS, and email to increase supplier access to opportunities, expand buyers' pool of applicants, and create more transparency in contracting;
  • Worked with ExxonMobil to develop a pool of qualified local suppliers, including conducting in-depth capacity assessments, providing recommendations on local supplier capabilities, and developing technical training;
  • Provided targeted assistance to suppliers in the communities surrounding the BHP Billiton concession areas and worked with BHP’s procurement team to identify opportunities for local contracting;
  • Participated in annual MSME Conferences and Trade Fairs, which bring together hundreds of key stakeholders to discuss challenges and opportunities for SMEs;
  • Hosted 28 Business Linkages Events across 5 counties, bringing buyers and suppliers together to facilitate business opportunities;
  • Produced over 280 Business Linkage Reports.

Donors and Partners