By Reagan S. Lebbie
Monrovia, Dec 19 (LINA) – President George Manneh Weah has launched a US$3 million loan scheme for Liberian-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and microfinance institutions across the country, a major sign the leader is keeping his promise to the sector.
In his inaugural speech in January, the Liberian leader vowed that local businesses or entrepreneurs should know that gone are the days that they would become spectators in their own economy, and that they will not be placed on the margins of events.
The capital infusion is equally intended to support and advance the government’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), by creating or widening opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
Presenting the cheque of US$3 million to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for onward transmission to the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (the administrator of the loan program), the President said that the monetary gesture will strengthen Liberian-owned businesses.
It will lift ordinary business people from the sidewalks to shops and from market stalls to factories and then become competitive in the business environment, the President ambitiously indicated.
President Weah noted that the returns of loans will further enable the government invest in many other areas within the economy while it expands small and medium enterprises to full-blown businesses.
This loan is not free money, and that would-be beneficiaries are expected to be creditworthy by paying back though in a rather favorable (extended) period of time with a ‘pro-poor’ or « very low » interest rate.
The President recounted that during his professional soccer career, he immensely contributed to the development of his compatriots, therefore now that he is the leader of the nation, « I will use your money on you without fear and favour. I will build your roads; I will build your hospitals and I will promote education and your businesses. »
Meanwhile, a representative of the Liberian businesses, Janjay Dennis, also the Superintendent of Red-light Market, hailed the President and government of Liberia for the initiative of the loan scheme which, he said, will greatly help to transform the local business climate and boost efforts to stabilize the economy.