SME Links to Concession Supply Chain with Support from SMI-L
Extractive companies have long been active in Liberia, but incorporating local companies into their supply chains has been difficult for both buyers and suppliers. Local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not always able to identify opportunities with extractive companies and, in turn, these companies use closed tender lists and can be unaware of a local company’s abilities to fulfill a contract. Prince Locah experienced these complications firsthand with his construction company Dayuu Enterprises.
However, in June 2014 Prince attended a matchmaking event in Buchanan put on by the USAID Sustainable Marketplace Initiative Liberia (SMI-L) and there he met with representatives from ArcelorMittal, a multinational steel and mining company.
After their introduction at the matchmaking event, Dayuu Enterprises won its first construction contract from ArcelorMittal for $2,050. Since then, Dayuu Enterprises has been awarded eight additional contracts worth over $70,000. With the increase in contracts, the company was able to purchase two vehicles, one for carrying materials and one for general transport.
“Once [the first] job is perfect, you’re going to get a contract,” Prince says. “We have a good relationship with ArcelorMittal and we are trying to build more relationships.”
As these two companies continue to work together, ArcelorMittal is not only testing the current capacity of Dayuu Enterprises to meet the company’s needs, but also building Dayuu Enterprises’ capacity to handle future jobs with ArcelorMittal and other companies.
In addition to adapting his company’s practices to comply with ArcelorMittal’s standards and deadlines, Prince notes that he and his employees are also learning how to collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Prince credits SMI-L for jump-starting his relationship with ArcelorMittal. SMI-L also connected Prince with the USAID Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) program, which provides training to SMEs on access to finance.
“SMI-L has done well, but we’re still asking them to do more [with us],” Prince said. He plans to continue using SMI-L’s services, including the Tender Distribution Point, and to attend trainings.