Many people travel the world in search of what they call ‘green pastures’ and sometimes never return to their home country. A Liberian named Parker Barcolleh almost had a similar fate. Instead he returned to start a new life and new business in in post conflict Liberia.
After traveling to Europe and other parts of the world, Barcolleh returned to Liberia and established a business call Bedrock Construction Company in 2011. In the beginning his business had its share of challenges, such as finding customers and high taxes. In search of an answer to these challenges, Barcolleh heard about Building Markets, USAID Sustainable Marketplace Initiatives Liberia (SMI-L). He was interested and contacted SMI-L to be verified.
From the day his business got verified, he began receiving tender notifications by SMS and email from SMI-L. “It is unbelievable what the tender notifications are doing for my business,” Barcolleh said. Determine to succeed Barcolleh enrolled in the SMI-L general procurement and financial management trainings where he acquired skills in preparing bid documents, setting up his business financials, customers service, and fundamentals of business management.
Bedrock Construction has won two contracts through SMI-L’s tender notifications. His first contract, valued at $3,671, was to provide internet cabling service for ACDI/VOCA’s LAUNCH project. The second contract, valued at $646,379, from the Ministry of Agriculture and funded by the African Development Bank (ACDB). This contract is to carry out construction projects in Harper City, Maryland County, including construction of a rice field. Many of his workers on the swamp rice field are Ivorian refugees.
Before winning the contracts, “I virtually knew nothing about bidding, especially for big contracts, but all of that changed when I learned about SMI-L and underwent their trainings,” Barcolleh said. “My business has been greatly impacted by the contracts won and has enabled me to employ more staff.” Before winning the contracts, Bedrock had four full time employees. Today Bedrock has over 163 full-time employees at both sites and 137 part-time employees or daily hires.
“Liberian businesses like any other can grow and become big and competitive,” Barcolleh said. “I view myself as a man on a mission to make a difference in the Liberian marketplace.”
The African Development Bank, which is funding the Ministry of Agriculture’s contract for the rice field has rated his project the best in Liberia. They are planning a visit to Maryland County to see on-going work at the project site. “I know Liberians can make a difference and this is what I have started doing,” Barcolleh said. “I am so proud that my company can be selected as the best company. As a Liberian we must believe in ourselves and compete with foreigners.”
Through the end of April, USAID Sustainable Marketplace Initiative Liberia has helped local businesses win 37 contracts worth $ 5,815,638 through tender distribution.