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West Africa venture fund boosts recovery in Liberia

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaInternational Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, announces the launch of a local rice milling plant and a modern bakery that will promote food security, economic recovery and job creation in Liberia following the protracted Ebola crisis.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf presided over the launch of both facilities. The FABRAR Liberia Inc. rice mill in Margibi County will purchase rice from local growers, parboil and mill it for sale on the local market. The financing from West Africa Ventures Fund (WAVF) enabled the mill to increase its capacity from one ton to 30 tons per day. The Hope Bakery Liberia in Paynesville is a facility that provides bread and other confectionaries to consumers at affordable prices. The bakery recently moved to a new facility, which features modern equipment in a standardized set up.

According to a press release, IFC is supporting these two initiatives through a $13.5 million investment in the Fund developed under the SME Ventures Program for investments in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The fund targets small and medium enterprise equity investments, and aims for commercial returns.  WAVF owns 49 percent of the rice milling plant and 65 percent of the bakery. The SME Ventures Program is an IFC initiative targeting small and medium enterprises in eight countries globally, including Liberia. IFC invested $13.5 million in WAVF to provide direct equity investment to SMEs in Liberia and Sierra Leone. With CORDAID, a Netherlands-based investment fund also contributing $4.5 million in October 2014 to WAVF, the total funds under management amount to $18 million.

 “New projects created through funding by the West Africa Venture Fund demonstrate the positive impact of IFC’s support for entrepreneurs, and our commitment to Liberia throughout the Ebola crisis,” said Saran Kebet-Koulibaly, IFC Director for West and Central Africa. “By promoting the growth of local businesses and entrepreneurs, these projects will stimulate private sector activity and job creation.”

 IFC’s strategy in Liberia, the release said, is to support investment climate improvements and small business growth, and to encourage investment in infrastructure, and help strengthen the financial sector. As part of innovative advisory programs in the country, IFC has helped Liberia establish a modern Commercial Code and Court, design a policy to support micro and small and medium enterprises, and has launched its Business Edge training programs to support small business growth.

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