Business Growth Increases Opportunities
Ambitious for quality education and eager to be a successful local entrepreneur is Mr. Emmanuel Saye Mator, owner and Chief Executive Officer of Business Systems Solution, Inc (see left of the photo). Mr. Mator, 43, happily married with three children, started his current business activities on Randall Street in Monrovia during the second phase of the Liberian civil crisis in 1999. For him, starting this business was not an easy task: the first phase of the Liberian civil crisis had just ended and there were few buyers, he had no technical and financial capacity, and he had no formal means of connecting to businesses. Shortly after, and at the restart and subsequent intensification of the civil crisis, Mr. Mator abandoned this livelihood and sought refuge in Ghana, where he remained and underwent engineering training provided by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Initially helped by only one staff member, Business Systems Solution repaired and maintained office equipment, such as printers and other machines. “Often, when repairing a machine for a client, they would ask about whether we provided photocopying services,” Mr. Mator said. “At first we said no, then we realized we should go into that.” The cost to expand into such services was high; electricity alone could be up to 40% of operating costs. “I also thought to further diversify my services and products by including other consumables but could not afford the associated cost,” Mr. Mator explained.
Mr. Mator described Building Markets’ USAID Sustainable Marketplace Initiative Liberia (SMI-L) as instrumental to opening new markets for his company. SMI-L made it possible for his business to know about contracts through its tender distribution service (TDS), which sends email and text message alerts about such opportunities.
“Without SMI-L, some contracts won by my firm and others would not have been easily possible. SMI-L really knows and responds to our needs, especially when you contact them,” Mr. Mator asserted.
Through TDS, Business Systems Solutions won more than $100,000 worth of contracts, which boosted his sales and profit margin and enabled him to increase employment from 2 to 6 full-time staff and hire 12 apprentices, all of whom he provided hands-on training for. Additionally, the contracts enabled him to fully liquidate a loan previously obtained from a local commercial bank thus increasing the business’s credit ratings.
Even more important, SMI-L’s online Supplier Directory expanded Business System Solutions customer base by providing buyers, such as UNICEF, a way to find his business and information about the products and services offered. Through the use of the Directory, UNICEF awarded Business System Solutions two contracts worth about $41,000.
Not only does Mr. Mator feel motivated about the progress of his business and its exposure to new customers and business techniques through SMI-L, but he also wants SMI-L and its donors to know that their intervention is worth the cause. Furthermore, he recommends that SMI-L should expand its services to remote communities in Liberia, as they may never have access to such opportunities as those in urban Liberia.
In conclusion, the Chief Executive Officer of Business System Solution said that although his business was steadily expanding in terms of capital and other assets, there was a lot more to do to ensure its sustainability. This would most likely require developing a new breed of managers to assume managerial responsibilities as he plans to retire in 15 years, securing a reasonable loan for expansion, and enhancing the capacity of his staff through training, such as SMI-L’s general procurement training. Ensuring the business becomes sustainable increases the opportunities of all his staff members.