Banking institutions in Liberia have been urged to respond to the lack of banking and financial services in some parts of the country to meet the needs of small and medium scale entrepreneurs in those areas that don’t have access to such facilities.
The banking institutions here had its fare share of the 14-year-old Liberian civil conflicts. Lack of such facilities in parts of the country has affected fast economy growth in those areas.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Harbel, Margi County Branch of the International Bank of Liberia Limited (IBLL), Commerce Minister, Miatta Beysolow, said it is time that the banks here respond to those needs to include those areas in the mainstream of the Liberian economy.
Minister Beysolow said IBLL with its reputation as an industry leader can play a lead role in serving these SMEs by extending customized financial services targeting specific sectors and industries.
“We strongly believe that the empowerment of the informal sector, especially those involved in trade and trade related enterprises, is the key to decentralized economic growth,” Minister Beysolow said.
She said the empowerment of traders and trade related entrepreneurs in the informal sector is an important element in the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, Liberia’s roadmap for trade development and mainstreaming (the DTIS).
The minister said the provision of such financial services to the majority of those whose businesses fall within the informal sector, will in turn provide mf survival for thousands of dependents.
She, however, conceded though that one of the most challenging aspects to the decentralization of the economy is how to reduce the informal sector to the most productive use and entice those in the rural areas such as Harbel to use the banking system.
The minister indicated that opening of the branch in such a densely populated area with many out-growers and smallholders could no doubt widen IB’s customer bass and promote banking culture in the community.
Speaking earlier, IBLL Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Patrick Anumel, told the gathering that IBLL is here so that together with Liberians they can help build the country.
He added that savings and investment constitute the driving force for economic growth and by implication economic development, and that the banks exist to facilitate this process.