President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is expected to address Liberian entrepreneurs, business executives, local and international partners, members of the diplomatic corps, youth and cross-section of stakeholders at the Liberian Marketplace or Small Business Administration (SBA) annual MSME Conference scheduled to take place on 25 November at the Nancy B. Doe Jorkpen Town Market in Sinkor, suburb of Monrovia.
A media advisory dated 15 November from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, says the conference will be held under the theme: “From Vision to Implementation, Buying Liberian, Building Liberia” with a special focus on “Promoting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Liberia.
The ministry’s advisory also discloses that since its inception in 2003, the SBA MSME Conference has focused on different topics and allowed MSMEs to explore partnerships and receive financing to expand their operations. The document adds that the conference has facilitated over US$42 million in public procurement from SMEs in 2015 and 2016 leading to several innovations, such as the small Business Empowerment Act which created the Small Business Administration, the E+ project, the Lofa Women Weaving Center, and the Liberian Marketplace, founded through the Liberia Innovation Fund for Entrepreneurs (LIFE).
According to the document, each year the conference has had a specific focus, adding that last year’s conference centered on ‘Women Entrepreneurship and covered topics such as financing options available for MSMEs today.The media advisory maintained that the annual flagship conference provide opportunities for capacity building , product exhibition, networking with investors, partners and clients thereby providing the chance for innovative Liberian ICT professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs to win US$20,000 prizes through a business competition in which applicants showcase their solutions that help solve community and business problems.
Four prizes of US$5,000 each will be awarded in several categories including Agribusiness, E-commerce, Education and Government, indicating that besides showcasing ICT innovation, in partnership with Mercy Corps and the Embassy of Sweden, the second annual E+ Second Class Business Plan competition will be launched.
Accordingly, the trade fair will also showcase SMEs from all over the country with exhibitors receiving various training including IFC business edge training by BSC. Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, members of the Legislature and the Cabinet will also grace the ceremony.
By Emmanuel Mondaye