Nimba County is a bustling center of business in Liberia. Ganta City, located on the border with Guinea, is a major commercial hub with a long list of NGOs operating there. Major concessionaires, like ArcelorMittal, BHP Billiton and COCOPA Rubber, all have large operations in the surrounding towns, such as Yekepa, Saclepea and Tapita. So it’s no surprise that Building Markets has made Nimba its second priority after Monrovia. Last week was the first part of a two-week engagement by members of the Building Markets team.
The Communications team spent their time in Ganta, taking to the airwaves and visiting businesses — with the invaluable help of the Ganta Business Association — to get the word out about Building Markets’ services and the events that would be happening in Ganta the following week.
The verification team visited Saclepea, Sanniquellie, Tapita and Yekepa and verified 66 new businesses in six targeted sectors for the Supplier Directory. This is one of the most successful verification trips we’ve had in the counties. Targeted sectors include agriculture, catering, construction, lodging, transportation and woodworking. The business development team tailed along, engaging buyers operating in Nimba and getting a sense of what they can and cannot procure locally in the area. This information helps Building Markets bring the right kinds of buyers and suppliers together for Matchmaking events. It also helps the team think strategically about linkages that could be made between the two groups in the future with a bit of capacity development and communication.
A Palava Hut meeting was held on Thursday morning to further explain the services and how business owners in Ganta can participate. More than 30 enthusiastic businesses attended, signing up in droves for verification and training. It was clear that Liberian business owners and managers want to grow their businesses. Many just don’t have knowledge about procurement processes, business plans or financial management. Lacking these can be a barrier to working with international and national buyers.
Building Markets’ training addresses this barrier. Business owners in Ganta requested training opportunities when the team visited last December, and this week Building Markets fulfilled it. We trained over 40 businesses this week. Interested local businesses exceeded the number of spots we could offer.
The trip culminates in a two-day Matchmaking event held in Ganta. Buyers, including concessionaires and NGOs, and suppliers in the targeted sectors will meet each other and exchange information in the hopes of doing business together.
Building Markets’ services can help Nimba businesses grow from small “mom and pop” shops to fulfilling large, regular orders from other businesses. This will encourage businesses to learn and use better management and customer service practices. Businesses that grow and learn will begin being able to compete regionally and internationally.
The Sustainable Marketplace Initiative is made possible by USAID: from the American people. See more photos from the Palava Hut meeting below.
Tags : Ganta Nimba County Saclepea Sanniquellie Tapita Yekepa