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AfDB to promote youth entrepreneurship in Liberia

A visiting team of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in the country has been meeting with officials of Government, including Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and the private sector about establishing a Youth Entrepreneurship and Investment Bank (YEIB) in Liberia.

The proposed bank will primarily fund Liberia’s Youth Entrepreneurship program aimed at enabling youths across the country to have access to financial and non-financial services, address unemployment and promote self-reliance.

Headed by Mr. Solomon Quaynor, Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, the team arrived since Monday, 3rd April on a three-day official visit, and has been holding high-level strategic discussions with Liberian authorities and other development partners including the private sector.

According to the delegation, financial services will focus on provision of loans with zero interest rates and longer tenure for repayment, while its non-financial services will provide capacity building, mentorship and financial skills to help entrepreneurs and encourage youth entrepreneurship. The proposed project and will cover three core components namely; an Angel Investment Fund, a Credit Guarantee Fund and a Technical Assistance Fund.

The AfDB delegation further revealed that the Angel Investment Fund will support youth entrepreneurs who have ongoing businesses to expand at commercial levels and meet market demands, while the Credit Guarantee Fund will assist in addressing collateral for financial support, thereby facilitating access by youth entrepreneurs to funds for business, and the Technical Assistance Fund will support business development services and capacity building for entrepreneurs to develop and sustain their businesses.

The proposed YEIB will be funded by the AfDB and Mastercard Foundation on a gender balanced basis in support of government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

When approved and subsequently operationalized, Liberia will be the third African country to benefit from the program after Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor welcomed the initiative and pledged the Government’s unwavering support to ensure that the youth of Liberia are empowered.

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Speaking to journalists early Monday prior to their meeting with VP Taylor and other stakeholders, AfDB Vice President, Solomon Quaynor and the Bank’s Country Manager in Liberia, Benedict Kanu, hailed the Bank’s long years of development collaboration with Liberia through both the public and private sectors.

They reiterated the institution’s commitment to particularly boost private sector growth and development, amid global economic challenges caused by the impact of COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war.

The African Development Bank Group, in 2020, appointed Mr. Solomon Quaynor as  Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.

An American citizen, Mr. Quaynor brings over 25 years of experience in development finance and investment banking.

He is an emerging markets specialist with experience in investing across financial institutions, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications, Infrastructure, Energy, Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services.

Besides, he was Senior Advisor to IFU (a Danish Development Financial Institution) for sub-Saharan Africa, including serving on the investment committee of a West African private equity fund; and was senior advisor to boards of medium corporates in Africa, as well as international companies exploring market entry in Africa.

Liberia was instrumental in the creation of the African Development Bank and is also a founding member of the Bank, having joined in 1964 with the late Dr. Romeo A. Horton crafting the vision for the formation of the Bank. The AfDB remains one of Liberia’s key development partners. 

Its current portfolio in the country comprises 14 ongoing and recently approved operations with cumulative commitments amounting to US$ 376.96 million, dominated by road transport and energy infrastructure.

Since it started developmental activities in Liberia in 1968, the Bank has helped to respond to some of the key drivers of fragility, including weak state institutions and human capital, inadequate basic social services and infrastructure, food and nutrition insecurity, limited good governance and accountability, and slow economic revival. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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