The Executive Director of the National Investment Commission or NIC George Wisner is calling on Liberians to embark on innovative approaches to take complete ownership of the economy.
Mr. Wisner says Liberians should stop depending on the two traditional commodities here rubber and iron ore as prices of these commodities have drastically fallen on the world market with serious trickledown effects on the economy.
“…to where Liberia finds itself, we are under obligation to find a way to take ownership of our economy”, he stressed. The NIC boss spoke in Monrovia over the weekend at his UN Drive office during the turnover of truck to a local organization – African Women Entrepreneurship Program or (AWEP).
The truck was donated by UNDP to AWEP to enable the institution effectively respond to the needs of rural women, especially those engaged in farming activities. The presentation followed a request made by the organization to empower local women, especially farmers who face difficulties in bringing their produce to market.
Director Wisner said, “Today we are very pleased to present to AWEP from our partner the UNDP, a five ton truck to enable them carry out their work in their various counties, because we understand that they are engaged in cassava processing, and these are things we want to see our people engage into, being innovative is what we want to see, because we can’t allow foreigners to take over our economy.”
According to him, the African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) was established in 2012 to support women entrepreneurship, noting that since it was founded, the organization has provided business development support to more than 900 members spread throughout the country.
Mr. Wisner narrated that AWEP successfully created cluster in every county where women entrepreneurs pull resources and are taught skills to enable them provide quality products to individual clients with support from government through the Ministry of Commerce and the National Investment Commission, Chevron Liberia Limited, and UNDP.
He says under the UNDP-Liberia private sector development program, women famers in 10 counties under the umbrella of AWEP have benefited from training in food safety, packaging and branding, and have received cassava processing machines and other assorted farming inputs for the purpose of processing cassava products.
He continued that the private sector development or PSD program seeks to support the government’s drive for sustainable economic transformation by rolling out a package of measures aimed at reducing obstacles to enterprises, or private sector development, expanding access to inclusive financial service, while strengthening governance of natural resources.
UNDP Assistant Country Director Mr. Dorsla Farcarthy promised his organization’s continuous support to the government in its endeavors, including private sector development, and stressed a need to empower the women through skills training, among others to become effective in taking charge of the economy.
Mr. Farcarthy challenged Liberians to adhere to the call by the NIC boss to become innovative by engaging activities that will help to transform the country or else, he cautioned, foreigners will take charge. We can’t just sit and talk about taking the economy from the hands of the foreigners without doing anything; we must make maximum use of the little resources, and support giving to us by government, or partners”, he added.
Meanwhile, the President of AWEP, Madam Ruggie Barry has praised UNDP and the NIC for the level of support provided so far, promising to do her best in collaborating with various women groups involved in farming activities.
“Presently, we are working in every county with the exception of Grand Kru, where we haven’t been, but we will use this donation for the purpose intended”, Madam Barry pledged. She said one major problem the institution has been faced with in time past is lack of transportation because when farmers are through with cassava processing, they had no means to take their finished products to market, but thanked God that UNDP has intervened by donating a truck as well as the NIC for establishing a private sector development department, which AWEP will benefit from.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne