25 April 2013

Liberia: IFC Supports Small Business Growth

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is helping strengthen smaller businesses in Liberia by supporting improvements to the country's investment climate and by providing business owners with the financing and training opportunities they need to succeed.

In partnership with Liberia's Better Business Forum, Liberia's Ministry of Commerce and Industry, USAID and IFC is hosting a conference in Monrovia from April 24-26, bringing together government officials, private sector representatives, experts on small business policy, and business owners to explore ways to expand and speed reforms that are helping Liberian businesses grow.

According to a release, participants at the three-day 'Breaking Barriers and Expanding Opportunities for MSME Growth' conference are discussing reforms under Liberia's National Policy on MSME's, implemented in 2011 with support from IFC and designed to stimulate growth in the country's small but vibrant small business sector.

The conference is also providing networking opportunities and offering business owners training sessions and capacity building workshops, helping them overcome the challenges they face.

Peer Stein, IFC Director for Access to Finance, said, "This conference is part of IFC's wider strategy to help Liberia strengthen its private sector and give its smaller businesses the opportunity to thrive. IFC is committed to helping Liberia make a full recovery from years of conflict and will continue to grow our investments and advisory services programs in the country."

Liberia's smaller businesses face a number of challenges, including difficulties accessing financial services and business development training. Smaller businesses in the country are often also constrained by limited access to electricity and a lack of general support services.

IFC, which re-engaged in Liberia immediately following the end of the country's civil war in 2003, is working in Liberia to address many of these obstacles, including supporting improvement to the investment climate and helping rebuild Liberia's shattered infrastructure.

IFC has helped cut the time it takes to register a business in Liberia from three months to only 48 hours. IFC also supported the creation of a Commercial Court and Code in the country, which are offering greater security for business transactions. IFC's has invested more than $45 million in Liberia's financial, agricultural, real, and extractive sectors.

Liberia is also one of eight countries supported by IFC's Conflict Affected States in Africa Initiative, which is supporting private sector growth, job creation, and increased investment in countries recovering from conflict. CASA is backed by donor partners Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. The group helps developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and provide advisory services to businesses and governments.

In FY12, IFC investments reached an all-time high of more than US$20 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world's most pressing development challenges.

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